Sustainable economy

A blockchain game will have a good chance of becoming successful if it is fun to play, free-to-play-and-earn, and easy to start. However, this is no guarantee that it will succeed. To increase the odds of success dramatically, a game also needs to have a solid in-game economy.

An in-game economy is a system that manages resource distribution, acquisition, and spending. Resources like gold, time, energy, ammunition, and so on. The rate at which these resources can be acquired and spent determines the player's progression speed. A balance is delicate: you don't want players to get to the end game content too fast, but you also don't want to discourage players by slowing them down too much.

The most valuable resource in any game is time. In traditional games (buy the game, no subscriptions, no in-game purchases), you need to invest time in playing and leveling up your skills and items. There are no shortcuts. But, with the introduction of in-game purchases (free-to-play and freemium model), spending money could save time.

This alters the way games need to be designed. Allowing too much advantage by spending breaks your game: gamers want to be competitive and want to be challenged. If you can simply buy your way to the top (or whatever you want to achieve), players lose interest: it is unfair (pay-to-win) and not fun (no challenges).

Cryptopia's unique game design allows players to manage their time as they see fit. A player can do quests and jobs to earn TOS (Cryptos) and use this TOS to buy game items. Or a player can buy the TOS with real money and then buy the game items. Gamers choose whatever way fits best with their circumstances, preferences, and mood ("No time tonight to quest, but I want to level this building").

When allowing players to buy shortcuts, it is essential to limit pay-to-win. In Cryptopia, the metagame is about building facilities that generate wealth for you and your faction. The construction of these facilities requires your time and other players' time. You can influence your time to a certain extent (buy shortcuts), but you cannot influence other players' time. This is the balancing factor for time, preventing complete pay-to-win.

Blockchain games add another dimension. The closed game economies are opened up: gamers can sell their items for real money and spend this outside the game. This is often one of the criticisms of play-to-earn games: you cannot sustain this model. The reasoning is that players withdraw value from the game (cash out) and leave the game’s treasury empty.

This is true for games that have no or very lackluster gameplay. Gamers lose interest, cash out and leave. The first generations of play-to-earn games experienced this cycle. At first, people were drawn by the monetary prospects, but when the required investment in NFTs became too expensive (and the ROI too low or unsure), there was no reason to play anymore.

Managing value streams is essential in blockchain games. A game needs to manage value addition and value extraction. At the end of the day, more value needs to be added than extracted. Value can only be added if you have a game worth people’s time…

So, what makes Cryptopia sustainable?

We offer gameplay that ensures stickiness: players will keep coming back. We reward time spent in the game. When you are an active player, you add value to the game. Even if you do not purchase, you still add value: you provide services to other players so that they can progress. When a player is active and playing (questing, exploring, building, socializing), this player adds value to the ecosystem and to the experience of other players. This player contributes to a lively game.

The purchasing player and the ‘free’ player need each other to progress in the game. And very importantly: they do so without exploiting each other. We have a non-zero-sum game: the gain of players is not at the expense of other players.

When a player wants to save time (‘buy a shortcut’), there is a transfer of wealth to a player who does want to spend time. Take the example of crafting. A player that spends time leveling up his/her crafting skills sells items to a player that does not want to spend time learning and leveling crafting. Both players win: the buyer can save time, and the seller earns.

The economy is circular. Whenever resources are spent to craft or create, these resources flow back into the game treasury. Quest rewards for future players are sourced from this treasury. As long as gamers play Cryptopia, future rewards for new players are generated.

We have a player-generated quest system. In addition to the quests related to building and producing (Tycoons recruit other players), players also generate quests when engaging in PvP. When you successfully loot another player’s ship, part of the loot sinks into the ocean and becomes a treasure. This treasure forms a reward for treasure hunt quests.

Cryptopia is sustainable because it combines a very low barrier to entry, engaging gameplay, fair rewards systems, and a non-zero-sum leveling environment where all players benefit, regardless of winning or losing.

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