Play to earn or play to Ponzi?

Block rhythm2022-06-23 18:05:39
Let's let go of our obsession with economic models , Start exploring the game again .

Editor's note :「 With the two-year bull market coming to an end in an extremely tragic way , Many concepts and projects created and popular in this cycle have also begun to cool down . that , Are these once star products really useless ? Their experiences of success or failure , What valuable experience will be left to this industry ?

In the near future , I plan to use 3 To 4 The length of the article , To review and reflect on several key tracks or business models in this cycle .」

since Axie Infinity Of Play to earn And derived from it X to earn Since the birth of the model , His ideal of "all inclusive" goes hand in hand with the doubts of the outside world about his Ponzi scheme . In the past bull market , We have also witnessed the adoption of X to earn The rapid explosion and extinction of the mode chain tour project .

that ,X to earn Is the model really as unsustainable as the token prices of these items ?X to earn Is it Web3 Great innovation in the field , Or another unsustainable Ponzi scheme ? If X to earn The pattern is finally falsified in this cycle , So where is the future of blockchain games ?

In this article, we hope to start from the lower logic , Carefully examine the merits and demerits of blockchain game development .

How to simply distinguish Ponzi items ?

Before we begin our formal discussion Play to earn Before the model , In fact, it is necessary to review the basic definition of Ponzi again .

According to the most extensive consensus formed in the industry at present , Distinguish whether an item is Ponzi , The key is to judge whether it has created new value for the external society , That is, whether there is 「 Positive externalities 」. If a system does not create positive externalities , In fact, all values are just zero sum game and redistribution within the system , And is bound to collapse after a period of time .

But in Web3 In the field , Because many items are often combined with money 、 Consensus mechanism 、 Economic models and other complex concepts , This makes it more difficult to identify Ponzi schemes .

that , Is there a simple way for ordinary users to quickly identify Ponzi items ?

1. Observe whether the system has external revenue

One of Ponzi's simplest means of judgment , That is to observe whether it can generate external revenue .

Because in a normal economic system , The vast majority of economic organizations that can produce positive externalities , Will not provide free products and services to the society . Just like you must get paid for working for the company , A merchant must earn income from selling goods to you , A sound market can always reasonably price these positive externalities , And promote the transaction .

therefore , Identify whether there is external revenue , It has become the simplest way to identify whether an economy has positive externalities .

So for a chain game , Judge whether it is Ponzi , In fact, we don't need to study the complex game mechanism inside the chain game . Instead, you just need to treat the chain game as a whole , It is enough to observe whether it can obtain income from the outside .

But one thing that needs to be emphasized here is , If we want to answer whether a chain game has externalities , Then the object of observation must only be the whole chain , It cannot be a local internal component in the chain game system .

We can see , At present, many chain games have achieved so-called 「 income 」, In fact, they all come from inside the chain game NFT Fee income from the trading market . But because this kind of internal market serves all gamers , It is a typical internal revenue , Therefore, it does not generate external value for the whole chain .

This is like although the gambling industry is a typical zero sum game , But gambling companies can still make money . Their income comes entirely from within the gaming industry , Therefore, these incomes cannot prove that the entire gambling industry has generated value for the society .

Of course, we can also see , Some chain game teams like StepN In fact, I realized this problem very early , Even by setting up 「 Chief revenue Officer 」 The post of , Hope that through Brand Co branding 、 Advertising and other ways to obtain real external revenue . These are obviously attempts in the right direction , It is also an encouraging behavior .

2. Determine the nature of the participant's expenditure funds : investment or consumption

In addition to observing whether the system as a whole has external revenue , Chain game participants can also judge the nature of their capital expenditure , To distinguish the Ponzi degree of a system .

If the participants of a chain game mostly put their funds into the system with the mentality of consumption , Then these expenses constitute the main income of the chain game system . This also proves from the side that chain games provide some kind of externality ( interesting ), To encourage people to consume and pay for this externality .

But if the vast majority of participants in a chain game are taking part in the game with a speculative mentality , And the main goal is to make money, not entertainment , And attach great importance to indicators such as the current cycle , Then the system is closer to a Ponzi scheme .

After all , Funds of investment nature , The ultimate goal is to make a profit and leave the market . So when the system doesn't have enough real income to fill their income gap , The system will inevitably move towards the Ponzi model of borrowing the new and returning the old .

So how can we better attract more consumer users to enter the system ?

The answer, of course, is to create real value , Improve the playability of chain game products , Instead of deliberately guiding users' mentality . Because the blockchain technology is adopted at the bottom of the chain game , So the whole game must be an open economy . So a well-designed chain game , Must be able to accept and accommodate all types of users . A game cannot assume , Naturally, users should not be required to use their own products with a certain mentality , There is also no need to deliberately crowd out certain types of users .

Just like bitcoin never presupposes the goodness of human nature , But by designing a reasonable game mechanism to protect the system from malicious participants . If there is too much speculative atmosphere in a chain tour economic system , The phenomenon of low consumption demand , So the first thing we should reflect on is the design of the game itself , Instead of directly shifting the responsibility to the user , This is a complete reversal of cause and effect .

Is Ponzi's theory of rationality tenable ?

The Ponzi economy itself cannot generate value for society , Therefore, Ponzi was often equated with fraud in the past . But the birth of bitcoin and its soaring price , To some extent, it breaks the inherent cognition of many people . And then , It is the Ponzi combination theory and web3 The theory of Ponzi's special case is very popular in the industry .

that , Is there any essential difference between the basic economic laws in the encryption industry and the traditional economy ? Ponzi structure in the new economic system , Is there really a certain degree of existence value ?

Answer that question , First of all, we need to re analyze several commonly used arguments of Ponzi combination theory .

Why pensions are not Ponzi ?

Pensions are an essential part of almost every modern society , And it has obvious social value . But at the same time, the pension has obvious external characteristics of borrowing the new to repay the old , So many people recognize it as Ponzi structure , And quote repeatedly , To demonstrate the rationality of Ponzi structure in some cases .

that , Is it really a Ponzi scheme to borrow new pensions to repay old ones ?

Of course not. . Because the greatest significance of pension is not investment appreciation , It is to stabilize the financial risks brought about by the individual life cycle at the social level . therefore , The essential attribute of pension is insurance , And all insurance products , To improve the certainty of the future , And consumer financial products designed intentionally .

Just like we don't buy aviation accident insurance to get back the capital and increase the value , The main purpose of pension insurance participants is not to make profits from investment , It is hoped that the normal retirement living expenses can be guaranteed without the support of children .

The logic is the same as that of other insurance products , Endowment insurance is also a way to transfer risks from those who are out of danger to those who are not out of danger , At the same time, the capital flow has never been out of danger ( Young latecomers ) Flow to the casualty ( Retired first mover ).

We can't just because it was the old man who came first , And the young people who didn't get out of danger happened to be the young people who joined in later , Let's say that pension is a Ponzi scheme of borrowing the new to repay the old . Pensions and Ponzi are only formally similar , But the underlying logic is completely different .

How to understand the externality of bitcoin

The whole cryptocurrency market originated from bitcoin , And the success of bitcoin itself , It also subverts the inherent cognition of the vast majority of people . exactly , The first feeling that bitcoin gives many people , It is a pure Ponzi scheme . Even according to the simple method of judging Ponzi just listed , Bitcoin also seems difficult to meet any of the above definitions .

therefore , Bitcoin has also become the best argument for Ponzi's theory . Many people think that , Since bitcoin can exist for a long time , So it means that Ponzi scheme may be under certain conditions or certain 「 narrative 」 Next , Become a foam that will never burst , So that everyone can benefit from it .

If you want to refute this kind of view , Then you must answer : What is the externality of bitcoin ?

The externality of bitcoin cannot be simply understood as external revenue , It is more reflected in the absolute freedom and open environment , People's undisputed ownership of property , And the absolute trust in consensus within the system . Just these values , It has been extremely missing in oriental culture .

This may also be one of the reasons why Chinese public chain projects are often unsuccessful . Because if a public chain project lacks freedom 、 to open up 、 De trusting these things that can produce externalities , The difference between the rest and the capital market is not too big .

As we are BCH What you see after the bifurcation ,BCH The team's first thought is not how to improve transparency and openness to promote ecological development , But trying to attack bitcoin . The underlying logic is that I don't have you , With you and without me ,「 It's better to chase down the remaining soldiers , Don't sell your name to learn from the overlord 」 That set . Although this underlying logic is indeed in line with China's historical experience , But in the world of blockchain , This kind of thinking makes the only externality of a public chain disappear , Finally, it becomes more and more close to a pure Ponzi scheme .

The above two examples are actually intended to illustrate , In fact, there is not much essential difference between encryption economy and traditional economy , For Ponzi projects that cannot generate externalities , The final result will still be collapse and return to zero .

however , Is there another possibility , It is a project that increases the number of users through Ponzi model in the early stage , And when the number of users reaches a certain scale, it depends on the number of users to realize , And then become a normal economy that depends on income to maintain its operation ?

Play to earn Is there any possibility of transformation for the chain game of the mode ?

First of all, we have to admit it , At present, there are many so-called 「 Chain Tour 」 project , From the beginning, it was made by the fund team , So after they fall into the death spiral , The project party may have run away , Naturally, there is no question of transformation .

But we can also see , In this cycle, some such as Axie And StepN This kind of project has a long-term vision . So these early teams that relied on Ponzi growth to develop users , Is it possible to complete the transformation in the future ?

The essence of Ponzi income is debt

We already know , In the chain game project that relies on Ponzi model for user growth , The income of early users comes from the principal invested by late users . So for a chain game team that hopes to transform into a non Ponzi project , The benefits of these users are essentially the marketing expenses of the system , Obviously, the payment of marketing expenses cannot always be advanced by the last user .

So when such a system starts to transform , If you don't want early users to lose money , Then these marketing expenses will become the transformation liabilities that the system needs to make up through subsequent revenue . The higher the income of early users , Then the heavier the debt burden in the transition period .

Index growth and medical run

We know the main advantages of Ponzi growth , That is, it can make the number of users increase exponentially in a certain period of time . But the exponential growth of debt is obviously not a good thing for the transformation .

We have all experienced the power of exponential growth during the epidemic . If you want to control an outbreak in a city , In fact, the time window for solving the problem may only be the first two weeks , Once you miss it, you will have to pay a great price to recover it . Many chain games actually encounter the same problem , That is, when the system has appeared because of exponential growth 「 Medical run 」, When public relations and user service capabilities are on the verge of collapse , In fact, they have missed the time window of transformation .

Another serious problem caused by the growth of debt index , That is, the income side cannot keep up with the growth rate of the liability side . In the current normal business model , In fact, few products can achieve exponential growth , A few industries with corresponding networks, such as social networking 、 It is impossible for advertising to maintain the momentum of exponential growth for a long time .

Therefore, even if the chain game team successfully created revenue, it began to transform , We still need to slow down the growth of the debt side , In order to reach a balance with the revenue side .

Reduce incremental and debt restructuring

So for the exponential growth of debt that has been out of control , Is there any other way ? There are still some in theory .

On the one hand, we should try to reduce the rate of debt increase , That is to reduce the yield , But it will also lead to a decrease in the inflow speed of new users , Further aggravate the transformation crisis .

The other is to reduce the stock , That is, debt restructuring , Let some users admit losses and leave the site . however , Such clearing will also cause great damage to the brand reputation and the number of retained users , At the same time, it continues to reduce the attractiveness of the product to new users .

From this view , The transformation logic of Ponzi chain tour seems feasible , But it is still more difficult to implement in practice , It may not be a really feasible business route . Of course, we still welcome entrepreneurs to continue to explore in this direction , Just don't try and make mistakes with the user's money .

Where is the future development direction of chain travel ?

Although the current chain games have a strong Ponzi property ( Except for a few such as Dark Forest And a certain playability ), But I still think that chain game may be one of the earliest application directions in the encryption industry that can break the externality of the industry .

that , What should be the focus of the future chain game development ?

1. Games should be fun first

The primary value of games is fun . So when the product you develop is not fun , Please stop calling yourself game, I am not qualified to talk about anything gamenfi.

In this cycle , Almost all the chain games we see are pursuing financialization at the expense of the basics , Both rely on Ponzi growth to develop the number of users . But Ponzi growth is at best a marketing tool , Not the ultimate goal of the game .

Pure Play to earn Will only lead to Paly to Ponzi, It is very difficult to implement the strategy of relying on Ponzi expansion in the early stage and transformation in the later stage , So far, no project can really run through .

2. We should encourage innovation , But please don't try and make mistakes with the user's money

Whether it's exploring new ways of playing , Or try a new economic model , Nature has to take great risks , Failure is more common . An emerging industry needs countless entrepreneurs to try and make mistakes bravely , It is possible to explore a new business model .

Naturally, we should not laugh at those unsuccessful explorers , But the cost of failure should be borne mainly by entrepreneurial teams and venture capital institutions , After all, they take high risks , There are also opportunities to obtain high returns .

But please don't pass on the cost of trial and error to your users !! Some chain game teams earn a lot of transaction fees during the Ponzi growth stage , While the Ponzi model was about to collapse , Blame the user's greed for the game crash , This is obviously a very irresponsible attitude .

3. The core logic of chain game should be up the chain

Some projects that call themselves blockchain games , In addition to the game token and NFT The equipment is released to the chain , The core logic of the rest of the game still needs to run on a centralized server . therefore , We can see that the project side can modify the rules of the game at will , Increase or decrease some NFT Usage scenarios of equipment , You can even stop taking clothes and run away , The user can do nothing about it .

For this kind of game that cannot link the core logic , In fact, it should not be called a blockchain game at all , It is just a tradition of issuing money with the help of blockchain technology Web2 It's just a game .

Of course , At present, many chain games use centralized servers to run game logic is indeed a helpless move . After all, the performance and cost of the public chain at this stage cannot meet the needs of the game . Therefore, the further development of chain games , We still need to wait for the gradual improvement of the underlying infrastructure .

But anyway , The real blockchain game in the future , It is absolutely not the same as a game that has issued money on the blockchain . If the core logic of the game cannot be trusted by the blockchain 、 Guarantee of tamper proof, etc , Then users can't really own their own game assets , The so-called user ownership is just an empty talk .

4. Excessive financialization will destroy the feedback mode of users and teams

Want to develop a good game product , In the early stage, you must iterate quickly and try and error constantly . In the process , The team needs to get clear feedback from the market about the strength of the game .

But chain game's inherent token incentive seriously interferes with this feedback loop , Allow the development team to make any adjustments to the game , Will be directly translated by the market into changes in yield . In this incentive mode , The development team will unconsciously change its development direction , Gradually turn to the pursuit of yield , And then evolved into a more pure Ponzi model .

therefore , For a team that really wants to develop games , Excessive financialization and premature token incentive may affect the normal development of the project . The process of financialization will be moderately postponed , The token incentive will be carried out on the premise that the game has been fully verified by the market , It may be a chain game development strategy worth rethinking .

5. Openness and composability are the core advantages of chain games

A really fun blockchain game , It will not simply copy the successful experience of traditional games , Instead, it can take advantage of the underlying advantages of blockchain technology , Try to surpass the traditional game playability in some aspects .

The comparative advantages of blockchain games over traditional games , I think it is most likely to appear in the openness and composability of the game . such as , Users can deploy new game logic different from the official game logic on the chain without access , So that the game community can carry out secondary creation on the same chain game assets . For example, the assets of chain games can be used across games , And show different properties in different games .

In these aspects, we have seen some useful explorations and attempts in this cycle , But obviously, it has not become the focus of the development of the chain game industry .

The end of the

In order to put X2E Try to discuss the mode clearly , The article is really a little long . But the reason why so much has been said , I still hope our industry can avoid detours , At the same time, it can also make ordinary users suffer less losses .

Although I don't approve of pure X2E Pattern , However, I am still very optimistic about the development potential of blockchain games in the future , Even chain tour is one of the tracks I pay most attention to at present . But the development of everything must conform to the most basic logic or common sense , Chain tour is no exception .

Let's let go of our obsession with economic models , Start exploring the game again .


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2022-06-23