In today’s newsletter, I’m happy to present to you a really great discussion on the future promise and opportunity of blockchain gaming…
Hold up! “Didn’t you just present the bear case for blockchain gaming to us just last week?”, you may ask?
On Opposing Perspectives
Actually, yes. A really great discussion with one of the smartest guys I know Lars Doucet: Key Challenges to Blockchain Gaming.
Let me explain and get on a bit of a soapbox for a few minutes…
One of the most dangerous trends I’m seeing both in society and in the gaming industry today is a dramatic shift towards dogmatism. It used to just be dumb execs at large companies, but dogmatism is spreading more generally now with increased politicization and extremism in our society.
Crypto in particular is a specific example of dogmatism gone wild. Many people have gone all-in or levered up on crypto both as personal investments and some for their careers. For “crypto-maxis”, an attack on any aspect of crypto is an attack on the person. This makes a nuanced discussion and a thoughtful debate in many cases impossible.
Some weeks ago, a few folks shared my company’s Values presentation on various social media channels which somehow got a bit of attention.
In that presentation, I documented one of the most important core values that we believe in at our company that I learned from Professor Ikujiro Nonaka (creator of Scrum). This concept is called the “Synthesizing Cone Model” and highlights the importance of conflicting opinions in order to achieve “knowledge expansion.”
I believe that truth and the expansion of knowledge accrues through conflict and thoughtful debate.
GaryVee has a slightly different but associated version of this concept that he calls “pulling from opposite directions.” The important part to take away is the ability to hold contradicting perspectives in your mind and to be able to discern value from both sides.https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/liO5saLKxSM?rel=0&autoplay=0&showinfo=0&enablejsapi=0
To be honest, I’m very disappointed in the current shift to small-mindedness and the personalization of issues. And to Gary’s point, thinking way too much about the opinions of others. Why do people have to associate their perception of personal value with their opinions? Why can’t people change their minds? Why can’t people be more open-minded? It’s very frustrating to see where the mind space of many folks in our industry has been moving.
Paul Saffo was the original poster on the concept of “strong opinions weakly held.” Unfortunately, more of our industry is moving towards the importance of being perceived as right rather than actually being right. We’re moving towards “strong perceptions, weakly supported.”
According to Peter Thiel:
Even further, Thiel suggests the discovery of these secrets is a very hard problem.
Entrepreneurs who want to be successful in the games industry (or any industry), should be thinking more about how to find the secrets in their industry that matters. There are plenty of conventions and common wisdom that all the small-minded big company execs continue to espouse. They do so because it’s “safe” and helps them maintain their self-image of “being right.”
We need to be more focused on finding secrets which IMHO can only come through some form of the synthesizing cone model: through the debate of conflicting points of view.
While hard, entrepreneurs execute against secrets all the time, in fact, a few months back I wrote about one such example: the success of Royal Match. Common wisdom suggested that Match-3 was super entrenched, required massive technology infrastructure around machine learning and optimization of levels, and was generally impossible to compete in. Turns out common wisdom wasn’t true.
There are many more secrets in the world that are waiting to be found. The question of how many secrets exist in our world is roughly equivalent to how many startups people should start.
Maybe instead of being dogmatic, how about we engage in nuanced and thoughtful debate? Let’s find these secrets and help grow our industry instead of being even more small-minded.
Sorry for the long diatribe, but with that out of the way, let’s get to the bull case for blockchain gaming!
The Future of Blockchain Gaming
I am very excited to present a very insightful discussion on the future potential and opportunity in blockchain gaming. We have three speakers who are not only super smart but deep and thoughtful:
- Chong Ahn, VP of Product at Mythical Games
- Brian Peganoff, former Sr. Director of Corporate Development and Strategy at Glu Mobile
- Mitch Zamara, Lead Designer at Million on Mars
There are a bunch of insights and takeaways from this discussion. However, let me leave you with the 3 I personally believe are the most critical.
3 Key Take-Aways:
- Is Digital Ownership the New Stock Market?: The concept of digital ownership could potentially be a game-changer. For some millennials and many parts of the developing world, crypto is their stock market. Many people may be disaffected by or just can’t participate in traditional forms of investment like the traditional stock market or buying a house. Hence, for these people, will they view NFTs and playing crypto-based games as a way of participating in a future investment model? This may be what we’re starting to see play out with NFTs.
- Play to Earn Engagement Model: Assuming the economics of blockchain games is able to sustain. Perhaps a bigger risk to traditional F2P games will not be from a revenue perspective but more from engagement. Will players choose to play a game that is not only fun but then enables them to be rewarded for their time based on the potential to earn and have a potential economic incentive? If so, how impactful could this be to the gaming industry?
- What’s Next?: Interestingly, we had some very different perspectives on the potential future of blockchain gaming. Let’s pull from these opposite directions. On the one hand, Mitch suggested that we may see the first game played by a billion people, made more accessible by blockchain and potentially enabled by the economic model behind blockchain. Pulling from the other side, Chong suggested that conversely, blockchain may also enable the ability to create new paths to monetization such that blockchain games may actually move to smaller audiences. You can enable smaller, more niche audiences that are monetized more strongly. And finally, Brian suggests that we may see one of the incumbents put NFTs behind a large IP which may then blow out new records for pre-sale numbers that could become shocking perhaps $100M or even $1B in pre-sales.
That’s one thing I can promise from GameMakers: I will continue to write about controversial and many times unpopular views. For new readers, here are very recent examples:
- Team vs. Family DEBATE: We Are “Not a Family” 🖕
- Apple vs. Epic Trial: Who Won?
- On App Annie, Alternative Data, and the SEC
Also, I want to announce a new experimental content series I’m starting with Brett Nowak the CEO of Liquid & Grit. Brett is a deep thinker, a good friend, and someone with whom I can have a lot of disagreements and conflicting opinions. We both discussed the importance of real discussions about important industry topics and the necessity to disagree.
Below is a real and deep discussion on How to Become a Great PM. Warning: it’s a bit NSFW and we may piss off some folks in the industry. If you’re sensitive, please avoid our Philosophy series altogether, it won’t be for you.
Further, while I open the discussion suggesting we will disagree on many issues, it turns out there’s a lot we agreed upon wrt product management but with specific differentiation in nuance. However, our objective will be in future episodes to disagree much more!
Below is a link to the podcast and we will publish it on YouTube and I’ll write a follow-on newsletter on the topic this upcoming Friday.
How to Be A Great PM podcast:
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