The gaming world is an incredible place.
Brazil has the largest game market in Latin America, and the Brazilian Independent Game Festival (BIG), which is held annually and this year for the tenth year, is the largest independent game event in Latin America.
Different from previous years, this year’s BIG sponsor list includes several blockchain companies. The wealth of these new sponsors can only be seen with the naked eye: the live broadcasts are filled with cryptocurrency advertisements; the pavilion facilities are covered with their logos; Tokens)”, “blockchain”, “Web3” and other concepts.
Crypto App Ads in Live Streaming
July 8 is the second day of the opening of the Games Festival. At 6 p.m., Mark Venturelli, CEO of Rogue Snail Studios, will give a presentation titled “The Future of Video Games,” the program says.
The presentation did not go as planned. First of all, Ventelli contracted the new crown pneumonia and could only speak remotely through video conference.
Secondly, “I lied to you, the title of my speech is not “The Future of Video Games”.
After introducing his 15 years of experience in the industry, Ventelli switched the slides and crossed out the original title with a red line, “I’m worried that this speech will not pass the sponsorship level, and the real title should be— —”
“Why NFTs are a Nightmare.”
Perhaps such a question echoed the dissatisfaction of the practitioners and players present. There was a burst of laughter in the field, followed by warm applause and cheers.
Ventelli’s call for a boycott of blockchains and NFTs is not due to a reluctance to embrace new things or to understand new concepts. He claimed to have studied the blockchain for many years, trying to convert these obscure concepts into easy-to-understand words, combined with the illustrated slides made by colleagues, and sings against the sponsor representatives off the field.
At the social level, Ventelli presupposes a theory: when individuals in a group or society trust each other, the work of the entire group or society will be more efficient; distrust of each other will cause a huge waste of energy.
“Assuming I live with you and we don’t trust each other, I’m going to have to hide my valuables every time I leave the house, lock them up and even install surveillance. I’ll need to check when I get home too, just in case You messed up my stuff and made sure you didn’t break into my room while I was sleeping.”
The concept of “decentralization” of blockchain is based on a lack of trust, “lack of trust between people”, and people also don’t trust “laws, government agencies or any centralized authority”. The energy wasted in the encryption and decryption process of blockchain is far more than that of centralized economic institutions that blockchain users do not trust.
Ventelli gave an example: a Brazilian bank with 9,000 customers uses about 532.8 megawatt hours of electricity every year; while the 160 million bitcoin holders worldwide waste 84.7 million megawatt hours of electricity every year , almost three times the annual electricity consumption of New Zealand. From this, it can also be concluded that the so-called “environmental protection” of the blockchain economy is completely untrustworthy.
At the economic level, Ventelli criticized NFT and its derived “Play to Earn” (P2E) model, arguing that it is more expensive than charging for free items in games or opening boxes and other commercial models that are prone to ethical dilemmas. Oops.
The P2E model encourages players to earn cryptocurrency by playing games, but its essence is a speculative economy similar to a casino, a “zero-sum” economy. NFT and P2E games do not create economic and social value, but only allow wealth to flow between people’s e-wallets. If someone makes money, someone must lose money.
Because this process wastes a lot of electricity, it should be worse than a “zero-sum” economy
The lack of supervision in the P2E game market will inevitably lead to a monopoly. Large groups will grab wealth from retail investors or ordinary players, making the rich stay rich and the poor poor, “because that’s how capitalism works.”
Games are commodities, means of entertainment and recreation, and cultural and social values. The introduction of blockchain, NFT and P2E models into video games will only make the game evolve into a purely real economic activity with strong utilitarianism. In the end, there is “no play” and “only earning”. In the process of making money, “playing games” “The experience is gone.
There is no “earn and play”, only “earn”
At the game design level, Ventelli believes that NFT and blockchain cannot bring innovation and qualitative change to game design. The various “new concepts” that blockchain companies advertised have existed as early as in previous games that did not rely on blockchain.
Blockchain games inherit not only the good side, but also the bad side, such as RMT (Real Money Transaction).
RMT not only leads to the breeding of plug-ins and robots, destroys the game environment, but also sometimes provides shelter for illegal and criminal acts such as money laundering. It has always been an behavior that traditional game companies have strictly resisted. However, P2E games always acquiesce to RMT behaviors and groups, and some games directly give the green light to RMT in the user terms, ignoring the game experience of ordinary players.
However, RMT, which is hated by practitioners and mainstream players like Ventelli, is also a means of making a living for the poor.
We joke that “playing games is like going to work” in some games, but for them, playing games is like going to work.
In his speech, Ventelli mentioned the situation in Brazil’s neighbor Venezuela. Venezuela is in an economic crisis, the currency is severely devalued, and the people are unable to obtain the most basic living materials. Tens of thousands of Venezuelans are forced to run RMT businesses in MMORPGs such as “World of Warcraft” or “Runescape”.
The currencies used in the transaction process are generally U.S. dollars or cryptocurrencies, and at least they don’t have to worry about devaluation until they are exchanged for living materials or even fleeing Venezuela.
An Internet Cafe in Venezuela
In the past two years, the cryptocurrency business has continued to expand, and RMT has become more closely connected with the blockchain. Less developed countries such as Brazil and the Philippines have produced a new RMT industry chain that has been fully recognized by P2E game developers:
Many blockchain games require players to pay a certain “start-up capital” or “entry fee.” Take “Axie Infinity”, the P2E game with the largest number of online users, as an example. This is a game similar to Pokémon battle, but the player’s “Pokémon” – Axies, is a unique NFT purchased with cryptocurrency .
Players must purchase at least three Axies to enter the battle, but an Axie can cost anywhere from $90 to $900. This is not a small expense, and it also provides an opportunity for “scholarship” institutions.
The “scholarship” agency has multiple accounts that have already paid the “entry fee” and distributes them to poor people who are not financially strong enough to pay the “entry fee”, or want to learn something before committing their first start-up capital Players with introductory knowledge.
This business model is more like a “student loan” than a “scholarship”. Players use the account of the “scholarship” institution to earn cryptocurrency in the P2E game. The “scholarship” institution withdraws cash once a week and takes their share, and the rest is the player’s commission. The share ratio depends on the agreement reached by the two parties in advance. Most “scholarship” institutions will take 60% of the income, and this does not take into account the issue of withdrawal fees.
According to a report by Brazilian game media Overloadr in December 2021, currently in Brazil and throughout Latin America, a company called Coy.GG is the largest “scholarship” institution, only the “Axie”
Infinity has more than 400 accounts and employs more than 1,500 players. Most of them are male players aged 23-35 who can’t find a job and claim to play games for more than 12 hours a day.
A gamer’s resume: a 25-year-old male who can play games for 13 hours a day
As a formed enterprise, Coy.GG has a fairly complete operating system. In addition to players, it also has a professional administrative department, specialists who monitor players’ performance, co-hosts who collaborate and promote, and even coaches who teach new players how to play games.
The company’s founder, Iago Moreira Souza, said they have created a number of introductory courses to make it easy for those with little exposure to electronics.
The first test subjects for these classes were Iago’s mother and several aunts, who had never played any video games before. The mother, who originally ran a community radio station, lost advertisers and a major source of revenue due to mass store closures during the pandemic. Now that revenue stream has become “Axie
Infinity”, my mother follows the company’s requirements to play games every day.
In the same report, Overloadr interviewed two Brazilian university students:
João, 24, and Luís, 21.
They joined Coy.GG on the recommendation of their friends, and also shared this way of making money with their other friends, girlfriends, and family members.
The Louis family of five would sit at the table at 9 o’clock every night, rub their mobile phones for 2 hours, and earn the daily income specified by Coy.GG in “Axie Infinity”. Coy.GG doesn’t schedule holidays, players have to log into the game 7 days a week, and if they don’t log in for 2 days, the company will confiscate their accounts.
Their income is not stable. The market of the cryptocurrency SLP (Smooth Love Potion) in the game is not optimistic, and its price has dropped from 2.3 yuan in May 2021 to 0.3 yuan now.
Win this game, the gross profit is 2 yuan 4
Officials will also adjust the economic system or nerf certain types of Axies for reasons like “balancing the internal economy”.
“Axie Infinity” has a PVP arena mode and a PVE adventure mode. In the November 2021 update, the daily SLP acquisition limit for Adventure Mode is halved, from 150 (45 yuan) to 75 (22.5 yuan), and the rest can only be obtained in the arena.
There are winners and losers in the arena, and wins affect profits, making the game environment more introverted. At the same time, the arena has a ranking score (MMR), and players with a ranking score below 800 cannot obtain SLP in the adventure mode, and the income in the arena mode will also be reduced. Every 40 days or so, a new season will be entered, and the ranking points will be reset. If the Axies in the player’s hand happens to be weakened, they may not make any money for the whole season.
One of Joao’s friends who did not accept the “scholarship” is one of the update victims in November 2021. He plays games for 2 hours a day and earns less than 450 reais (about 561 yuan) a month.
Most people also only play games for 2 hours a day. “Axie Infinity” has an energy mechanism similar to that in free mobile games. After 2 hours of playing, the 20 points of energy issued by the game will be used up every day, and the game cannot be continued.
Unless the player pays to buy more Axies, every 10 Axies can increase the energy limit by 20 points, up to a maximum of 60 points. Coy.GG will offer elite players a “premium account” with a higher energy limit, in order to give those “who want to make more money and be more competitive” a chance.
Even if you don’t go to the inner volume, the work of 2 hours a day is not so easy. There are a lot of repetitive operations in the battle process of “Axie Infinity”. If things go on like this, Louis has tendinitis in his hands, thumbs, elbows, and shoulders, and Joao has even reached the point of seeing a psychiatrist.
“You can earn 400 reais (about 499 yuan) by spending 100 reais (about 125 yuan) per week to see a psychiatrist. In the past few weeks, I have talked with the psychiatrist The problem is to buy a game account of your own so you don’t have to worry about how to complete the daily quest at 9pm every night.”
The “first pot of gold” earned by working for the “scholarship” organization finally allowed Joao and Louis to buy an “Axie Infinity” account of their own. They “didn’t do well” in the game, but they also made three times as much as the commission they were getting.
People like Joao and Luis are only in the minority, and many more players simply cannot reach the passing line of 800 ranking points. Of Coy.GG’s more than 400 accounts, 70-120 are in a liquid state, handing over usage rights every month.
However, Coy.GG founder Iago claims that 60% of those who leave the company do not play well. “They didn’t put in the effort and thought the money was easy to make. It’s not, you have to put your heart and soul into it for at least two hours a day…because it’s a strategy game, and without strategy you’re going to lose.”
“So many people have to work eight to ten hours in the hot sun. And these people at least have the opportunity to earn the minimum wage in bed for two hours from the comfort of their own home. They are never grateful for the opportunity. .”
Iago wasn’t bragging. Brazil is the country with the second lowest minimum wage in Latin America (the first is Venezuela), which is about 1,212 reais (about 1,497 yuan) per month.
Brazilian drivers who take orders on the Uber car rental platform have to work 16 hours a day, eight times the working time, and only earn 3,000 reais (about 3,740 yuan) per month.
Political turmoil, inflation, social inequality, and the impact of the epidemic have made more and more Brazilians embrace the blockchain. Not only Brazil, but the entire Latin American cryptocurrency bubble continues to inflate, and blockchain investors are all looking to get a piece of the pie.
Cryptocurrency holders in Brazil have surpassed 10 million
In March 2022, Gustavo Steinberg, director of the BIG Games Festival, revealed in an interview with Overloadr that if it wasn’t for the generosity of blockchain companies, there might not be this year’s BIG. Unable to ignore the role of cryptocurrencies and blockchain, he intends to use BIG to provide a relatively open debate space to “show what’s going on.”
An advertisement for a “scholarship” agency in March this year
Ventelli serves as a consultant to the Brazilian Game Developers Association (Abragames), and is the representative of the “NFT harmful theory” in the association, but he did not choose to protest and withdraw from the association like several of his colleagues, so there is a scene at the beginning of this article.
Ventelli did show what was going on, and some of his theories were validated in reality. “Our gross national product has not grown for three years (2020-2022). Part of the result: BIG has become an open space for vultures. Now, here comes the vultures.”
“Vulture” touts the achievements of blockchain and peer-to-peer gaming, touting how they offer people a new way to support their families. But they didn’t seem to have the confidence to match their achievements, and when Ventelli spoke, they were “really pissed off” and tried to interrupt, only to be stopped by organizers who had censored the content of the speech weeks earlier.
Convention organizers give Ventelli ‘complete freedom’
After the BIG, Ventelli is still outputting opinions. In an interview with foreign media PCGamer, Ventelli emphasized that “these sponsors are just irrelevant outsiders at this conference” and “they just want to spend money on the relevance of the game to the blockchain.” He has always believed that if the blockchain game is exhausted, it will only achieve short-term commercial success, and it will do great harm in the long run.
Ventelli also has his own selfishness. He wants to use his game to rebuild trust between people in this “crisis of trust in Western society”, and blockchain games are the biggest threat to realizing this ideal.
A shooting game being developed by Ventelli
He wrote in a tweet: “The gaming world is an incredible place where there is always a chance for a player to win… When you think there is no chance of winning, the game is over. So, when you come up with ideas like this: ‘Let’s bring wild, unregulated capitalism into our play space’, you bring something that’s not part of the game, that’s oppression. People realize they can’t win the game, and that’s the death of the game time.”
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