Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is one of the most popular games in the world and is one of the highest-grossing game IPs ever. And despite being around since 2012, CS:GO is still today one of the most popular FPS (first-person shooter) games, with a very large player base that is supported by a large community of professional and amateur players.
Having this in mind, it should be no surprise that CS:GO is a cash cow for Valve, as the game studio turned game publisher and distributor giant was a pioneer of in-game cosmetic microtransactions.
Over the past years, there have been several reports of millions of dollars in CS:GO skins being stolen, and to make it worse, recent allegations suggest that the support staff outsourced by Valve was involved.
The allegation was brought forward by a Russian YouTuber who explained that a hacker conspired with one or more members of the support staff to target accounts that were inactive but had valuable CSGO skins. The support staff would obtain the account credentials, and the hacker would log in and transfer the skins to another account to sell on a third-party website. The buyers of these skins were unaware that they were purchasing stolen goods. The hacker would then delete all accounts involved and start again. You can read more about it here.
No need to say that even though CS:GO has a very loyal community, if these stories are proven true, no organization or brand is immune to the damage. Gamers will lose trust because their assets are not safe anymore, and the wreckage to Valve's reputation can be irreparable.
Blockchain and NFTs are two technologies that change the way we store, trade, and own digital assets. A blockchain, being basically a public online record of transactions, allow for the tracking of the movement of goods, services, and information. Data on a blockchain is stored on decentralized networks that are publicly accessible. This makes blockchains permissionless, more secure, transparent, and allows for new ways to manage data and digital assets.
One use case for blockchains is NFTs, which provide proof of ownership. NFTs are unique and cannot be replaced with another token. They contain identifying information that makes them different from other tokens and therefore valuable.
In a gaming space that is sometimes prolific to hackers, scammers, and thieves seems like blockchain and NFTs are a natural fit for the sector, and could have prevented situations like the CS:GO hack.
One of the main reasons why CS:GO items are vulnerable to theft is that they are stored in centralized databases controlled by Valve. This means that if the database is hacked or if an employee of the company gains access to the database, they can steal the items with ease. Blockchain technology, on the other hand, is decentralized and distributed across a network of nodes. This means that if one node is compromised, the others can verify the validity of the transaction and prevent the hack.
For years, gamers have struggled with issues related to in-game assets, including concerns around genuine ownership, decentralization, and hacking and theft of items. NFTs can help alleviate these problems, providing a solution that is secure, decentralized, and reliable.
NFTs can be used to prove ownership and authenticity of digital assets. Unlike traditional digital assets that can be duplicated or copied, NFTs are unique and can be verified on the blockchain. This means that even if someone steals a CS:GO item, they cannot sell it on a third-party website or to cash traders because the NFT associated with the item will not be authentic.
Moreover, NFTs offer a wealth of benefits for gamers, studios, and developers alike. They can help break down the traditional barriers of Web2 gaming and usher in a new era of more immersive, interactive gameplay. NFTs can also create new revenue streams and promote deeper engagement with the game, as well as enable interoperability with other gaming platforms.
The NFT market is expected to register an incremental growth of $147.24 billion between 2021 and 2026, according to a report by BusinessNews.
Gaming is already a huge market and an ever-growing sector, with games like CS:GO, Fortnite, and League of Legends, to name a few, earning most of their revenue through microtransactions.
So, by melding together NFTs and in-game assets — the key areas of digital ownership and decentralization are significantly improved which could help bring even more players into the valuable space that is in-game assets.
Utilizing NFTs for in-game assets provides a plethora of benefits that can take gaming to the next level in Web3. Not only do NFTs solve several core issues with in-game assets, but they also offer additional advantages that enhance the gaming experience.
One of the main benefits of placing in-game assets on the blockchain is the decentralized nature of NFTs. This provides advantages such as verifiability, transparency, and authenticity. NFTs are perfectly suited to be in-game assets since they allow for true digital ownership. For example, if a weapon skin is an NFT, it is available on the gaming platform, and depending on interoperability, it can be accessible across other platforms. However, the NFT always remains with the user, making it impossible for the gaming platform to take it away or for hackers to breach the asset.
Digital ownership through NFTs protects and promotes the player, ensuring that the value spent on accruing the asset is never wasted. Additionally, NFTs for in-game assets are protected from cyber-attacks thanks to blockchain’s decentralization, which leads to cryptographic security and traceability. This allows for easy verification and authentication of assets.
Last but not least, NFTs for in-game assets offer a significant advantage for game developers since they can be listed on NFT marketplaces to trade, rent, or sell outside of the gaming ecosystem. This increases the intrinsic value of the asset and provides another revenue stream for studios.
How much longer will Valve and Steam hold to its NFT-free word? Steam has inherent goodwill among PC gamers, but it’s goodwill that’s allowed them to dodge the criticism of several hacks, stolen assets, and millions lost.
Even if the ethical concerns and bad reputation, don’t put Valve off, this would be a great opportunity to embrace the web3 revolution and empower gamers by enabling the ownership of digital assets, and digital property rights.
The immense functionality and opportunities that NFTs offer for gaming studios and developers are becoming increasingly evident. As the gaming industry moves towards Web3 ideals such as ownership, NFTs provide gamers with the desired level of control over their in-game assets. Additionally, there are incentives for creating secondary NFT marketplaces, providing an extra source of revenue for developers.
Web2 games have certain limitations that gamers are eager to see solved, and blockchain technology can play a significant role in making games more player-driven. Although this shift towards player-driven gaming may take some time, implementing NFTs for in-game assets has the potential to kickstart this movement.
Even if Valve keeps turning a blind eye to blockchain and NFTs, it has already laid the groundwork for this (r)evolution. Many game studios, developers, and even gamers looking this out as there are ample opportunities for them to appeal to their users and to earn added benefits like a new revenue stream from NFT marketplaces.
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