When we talk about video games linked directly or indirectly to the blockchain, one of the technical constraints is often to have a computer. This may seem normal for several reasons: to obtain the necessary graphics, to connect with your crypto-wallet, to fully enjoy the gameplay thanks to a keyboard or a controller or even to share a stream.
Not everyone has the time or the necessary equipment! In addition, how to progress in your favourite game if you are, for example, waiting for or during public transport?
Philip Mohr wondered in an article last year if the marriage between blockchain and mobile games was possible. Today, even without the help of a giant like Apple or Google, their expansion continues.
How is blockchain technology integrated into mobile games?
First of all, rest assured, you don’t have to buy the latest Exodus to be able to have fun on your smartphone.
Wallets are pivotal elements for us to talk about mobile blockchain gaming. Necessary to keep the assets that you will get while playing, they are also the first gateway to games on the phone.
The issue of the wallet is regularly debated (and that’s good!) because access to your private keys is less secure on a “Hot wallet“.The balance between ease of use and safety is a balance that is constantly evolving!
Being aware that the sites you are going to visit pose a security risk is the least of things before trying all the games presented in the wallet that you have downloaded.
Let’s take a closer look at how the use of wallets has evolved over time:
Depending on the wallet chosen, you will find on the home page, or in the tabs, an access to “Discover” or “Games”. These are web shortcuts that will take you directly to a Web3 compatible site. It can also be accessed by entering the URL manually from the wallet’s integrated web browser.
This method allows you to ensure visibility of different projects but also to discover new features if you are a little curious! For the most part, most of the games you find there will be gambling or apps that look like flash games from the 2000s.
Some applications requiring more resources than a browser have decided to separate the wallet and the game. The constraint of having two applications is twofold:
On the Bitcoin blockchain in particular, there are many examples of teams having overcome these challenges. Everdream Soft, creators of Spell of Genesis, with their Books of Orb’s wallet. Each NFT that you get in the game will appear in your wallet, and each NFT that you buy in a marketplace will appear in the game.
This method of connecting between games is also widely used in the EOS universe. Each action in the game requiring your wallet was recorded on the blockchain in complete transparency, and the ability to “whitelist” certain interactions made blockchain solicitation invisible.
In the example of EOS Knights, which had incorporated its own marketplace into the game, almost all interactions in the game were recorded on the blockchain. Leaving the choice to the end user to set up his transaction validation strategy is a choice of transparency which we support fully!
For its part, ITAM Store centralizes several things in one application: a wallet and several games. The games available from this platform will therefore be directly linked to the application’s wallet! That said, the only way to identify yourself in the wallet settings is to import an “owner” (private) key, make no mistake between your Active or Owner key 😉
In order to overcome the technical barrier to offer simplified access, some games have directly integrated a wallet. This is the case of Upland or Crypto Idle Miner but also recently of projects targeting the mobile market like Town Star or League of Kingdoms.
Since you are not in control of the generation of your keys, remember that you are entirely dependent on a centralized and online instance to have access to your assets. If the project stops, you will not be able to recover the various assets present on the integrated wallets.
That said, it clears you (in part) of a manipulation error on your part and your assets will therefore be stored on a third party who claims to be “trusted” – this really improves the control and UX developers can provide utilizing the block but also an often undesirable trait for blockchain related projects.
There is another wallet model built into the game, which is a bit special.
It’s to use your private key as an identifier to import all the data linked to your account. For Brave Frontier Heroes or Mega Crypto Heroes, if you started your game on a web browser and have just downloaded the mobile application, this is how you synchronize your data. Not very practical if you discover the existence of these two applications in public transport isn’t it? On the one hand because you don’t necessarily have your private key always with you. On the other hand because typing this key on the run is far from being practical.
An interesting model that we have seen emerging recently is that of a third party identification hosting system.
Chain Guardians will use the information hosted on the SafeName.io platform, which will link your account name to the signing of your wallet. In this way an invisible link is made between a classic connection to the application and the use of the blockchain to make your NFT appear in the game.
To access the Axie Infinity alpha, a slightly different model was adopted. Registration is only possible (for the moment) through the site’s Marketplace and via an email address. The link with your wallet will only be done afterwards, but at least you will no longer be disturbed by metamask popups asking for confirmation during your game.
In the same way, if one day WAXTycoon is worn on mobile, it will be possible to connect to it via a Cloud access which will be linked to your wallet.
The important idea that emerges from these models is not that it is hosted on centralized solutions but that the identification is disconnected from the project and the wallet. Some games sync your progress for you and some will sync to the blockchain on demand.
There are advantages and disadvantages to all of the methods listed, both in terms of security and user experience.
The idea of a disconnected identifier can make one think of projects like Ethereum Name Services: an NFT linking several account information. Today it uses public information, but would it not be possible tomorrow to guarantee the confidentiality of this information?
The “Custodial” or “Non-custodial” experiences carried out through the different games have helped advance the love story between blockchain and Mobile Gaming. Fortunately, this story has only just begun and there are still many combinations to try! The possibilities explored, all blockchains combined, are evolving very quickly.
We salute the imagination of passionate teams who have shown themselves to offer games that are increasingly accessible to the general public, and encourage them to continue making ever more ergonomic solutions!