The momentum of Web3 games is unsurmountable. It has made a safe space for itself by allowing in-game items to be traded on permissionless decentralized marketplaces in exchange for real money. And this has become its major catch.
This particular aspect of Web3 games has created avenues for the financially motivated to speculate and earn while also allowing game developers to incentivize certain player behaviour with financial rewards. It is safe to say that the complex open game economies have led to the rise of various participant classes with differing motivations and behaviours.
While you are at it, have a look at how Web3 gaming players influence the economics design consideration in various ways.
The players can be broadly classified into three categories of participant personas as in the table below. Let’s find out which one is the most suitable to have on board. (Content & Research Source: Vader Research)
1- F2P Players
F2P or ‘Free to Play’ players are the traditional video game players who play games because they enjoy them with no expectation of financial rewards. You will be astounded to know that some F2P players are more valuable to game developers than others? Wondering why? It is because they spend more on microtransactions or their eyeballs are worth more money to advertisers.
Let’s dive right into understanding the types of F2P players.
- F2P Whales
F2P Whales are the best pick as they spend large amounts of money in games on a frequent basis. They are hailed as ‘whales’ for a reason. They enjoy spending on experiences that signify power, social interactions and more. Alternatively, they might represent the majority of a F2P game’s revenue and their extravagant spending behaviour makes them an absolute favourite of the advertisers. The advertisers vie for their attention and spend large sums of money to get access to their eyeballs to sell them various products/services. Generally, they are known to spend from $500 to $100k per month.
These massive spenders know no limit when it comes to acquiring extra features to improve the game. They keep going until they get what they want. A whale is more likely to spend a huge amount of money in a short time in an attempt to get the best collectibles. Such transactions are very addictive in nature, and the gamer lifetime value will skyrocket as a result.
- F2P Non-Whale Spenders
Enter F2P Non-Whale Spenders – the type of gamers that are desired in a healthy long-term economy. Although they don’t spend as much as the whales, they are likely to spend relatively more time playing the game than whales and also spend a considerable amount of money. If you are thinking, where exactly do they spend their money? Then, battle passes, microtransactions and cosmetics are the common answers. Their spending limit usually lies between $5 to $100 per month.
- F2P Non-Spenders from Developed Countries
As per Vader Research, F2P Non-Spenders are those that do not spend in games. But their disposable income makes them valuable to advertisers. And, there is always hope and possibility that they can convert into a spender anytime. An average non-spender player from developed countries could help a game generate the gross advertising revenue around $5-$20 per month.
- F2P Non-Spenders from Developing Countries
F2P Non-Spenders from developing countries are those that do not spend in Web3 games at all. Additionally, they are also not very valuable to advertisers as the average non-spender player from developing countries is considered to have little disposable income and a relatively lower probability to convert into a spender. An average non-spender player from developing countries typically generates a gross advertising revenue of $1 per month per game.
In a nutshell, the majority of F2P players have a net deflationary impact on the economy as they are willing to spend more money than what they are getting paid by the game (if they are paid anything).
2- Capital Providers
- Web3 Gaming Guilds
By now, we all have heard of Web3 Gaming Guilds a lot. Needless to say that the existence of any for-profit institution is to make money owing to its artificial entity status.
While the founders, executives and some shareholders might have emotions but they also have a fiduciary duty to their share/token holders to maximise franchise value. Thus, they will always prioritize a decision to maximize profits/value over supporting ethical causes.
On a daily basis, we come across a lot of brands adhering to their Corporate Social Responsibility and supporting ethical causes (environment, peace, racial/gender equality, etc.). But in reality, these all activities are a part of a well-constructed PR campaign because the executives believe that the financial & social costs of supporting a specific ethical cause will result in a ROI positive investment. It will then further lead to higher customer & employee retention & monetization, resulting in higher franchise value.
Web3 Gaming Guilds like Yield Guild Games, Merit Circle etc. have financial motivations and tend to allocate their capital, time and labour to maximize earnings and franchise value. Other gaming guilds such as Guildfi, Good Games Guild buy & lend in-game NFTs to gold farmers (to be discussed in detail further) to earn a yield and invest in early-stage game tokens/NFTs with the expectation of capital appreciation.
Even though guilds spend very much like F2P whales, they don’t have physiological motivations and are very unlikely to spend on cosmetics, IAPs, battle passes unless they are able to justify the investment with a positive financial ROI.
Are you also wondering why is it so?
Well, it is because A VC-backed guild with a publicly listed token has fiduciary duties to its institutional & retail token holders to maximize earnings and long-term fully-diluted market cap. Therefore, it can’t waste fiduciary money on buying game cosmetics for personal physiological motivations of its executives.
A guild that is making $ millions in profits from a P2E game might then think of buying cosmetics from that game (as a part of PR strategy to seem supportive and non-extractive to get access to more early-stage game token/NFT investment opportunities).
- Crypto VCs & Hedge Funds
In the eyes of Vader Research, Crypto VCs & Hedge Funds are institutionalized investors. They are governed by financial motivations and aim to have an exit price that is higher than the entry price. However, the time horizons and asset preferences may vary. Mostly, VCs prefer early-stage private tokens/equity and have a 2–3 year horizon. On the contrary, Hedge Funds prefer tradable tokens/NFTs and have a 1–180 day horizon. These institutions are typically not very active within the game itself. In simple terms, these are the institutions that provide capital and look for opportunities & inefficiencies within the market.
- Retail Speculators
Retail speculators have financial motivations akin to that of the previously mentioned institutions. Retail speculators can either act collectively by being part of a chat group, community/forum, DAO or they can be individual lone wolves.
- Moonshot Traders bet on various tokens, NFTs with the aim of generating very high returns from the difference between the entry and exit price.
- NFT & IDO Whitelist Hunters are on a constant lookout for the next big gamefi investment.. They also do extensive due diligence on the projects, spend hours interacting and engaging on the Discord channels to get whitelisted for the next hot game’s primary NFT sale.
- Ponzi Yield Enjoyers get into ponzis where there is an estimated high juicy yield on their investment; with previously invested projects such as Axie Infinity, Thetan Arena, STEPN. They are likely aware of where the yield is coming from, enjoy the thrill & high returns and bet that the music will continue playing.
Although the individuals mainly have financial motivations, they can’t really be considered as the most rational investors and usually have a high tendency for gambling/wagering since they are already willing to invest considerable amounts in risky crypto projects.
A well-designed game economy is very likely to convert financially motivated retail speculators into deflationary players for the game economy.
3- Paid Players
- Gold Farmers
The name very clearly suggests that the ‘Gold Farmers’ have purely financial motivations — they play the game to make money. Their decision making process in a game is a combination of the following:
- how much $ they can earn per hour
- the effort required
- the probability of earning
To simplify it further, if driving a cab earns them a guaranteed $5 per hour and playing Axie to earn a risky $3 per hour — they might choose driving the cab.
The major difference between gold farmers and F2P players is that the former are interested in earning the financial rewards as soon as possible so they can cash out and extract value from the economy.
While the latter goes through the core game loop and are willing to reinvest back the physiological/financial rewards back into the game to go through the full journey.
- Competitive Players
Well, the name says it all!
In a very detailed research by Vader Research, competitive Players are the skilled players that top the leaderboard rankings in a game. They aren’t necessarily motivated by financial motivations. Their journey begins as F2P players but as they progress, they rank up and start earning through winning tournaments or through streaming.
Also, there is a high probability that when they start building a personal brand, esport teams poach them to start working for them in return for a stable salary and additional perks.
Furthermore, they aren’t necessarily inflationary for the game economy as their existence attracts new players, additional engagement for existing players (through streaming or playing together). But, a model where competitive players can be truly deflationary for the game economy is the ‘zero-sum wagering model’ where such players are willing to put their skin in the game and bet on their own skills.
- Micro-Influencers & Content Creators
Micro-Influencers & Content Creators have made a special space for themselves. They represent a strong distribution channel for games and attract, engage, and retain players through numerous activities. They boast off a big community of engaged members who have strong faith in their leader. As a result, such influencers promote new games/products to his audience to have a very high conversion ratio. Check out some of the top Web 3 gaming influencers here.
Their main source of income is through tournaments mainly financed by the game developer or advertising new games/products/services. An influencer’s capability to promote a game can be easily measured through several KPIs such as engagement, conversion rate etc. and thus the market will continue rewarding influencers that have an economically net positive (deflationary) impact for the game economy.
- White Collar Paid Players
A quite recent addition to the Web3 gaming players, White Collar Paid Players are known to potentially add value to a game. They are known to validate the hypothesis that paying players will result in larger and more sustainable franchise value created for games. With their strong social skills, they play a key role in increased retention & spending for players that interact with them which is why even though they might get paid, their overall impact is deflationary.
Making an entertaining game with strong core loops, great art and balanced rule sets are just tip of the iceberg when it comes to challenges and problems of the Web3 games. However, the biggest roadblock will be sustaining an open economy, distributing financial incentives optimally along with keeping the players/community happy to maximise lifetime value.
Source: Vader Research
A permissionless open economy of Web3 games inevitably attracts financially motivated participants who aim to extract more value from the game than they add. This is the prime reason why Web3 game developers should diligently evaluate the player types suitable for their game. And, the game economy and rule sets should be designed to reward/punish certain participants and behaviours.
Also, it is imperative to understand the pivotal symbiotic relationship that players share with other Web3 gaming stakeholders as given below.
Now that you have a fair idea of the various types of Web3 gaming players, which side of the coin would you like to choose? Let us know in the comments below.