The leisure economy is the embodiment of the hope that one day we could all be paid to play games. It was a common topic at our GamesBeat Summit events, and came back to our GamesBeat Summit 2020 event in a fireside conversation with John Linden, CEO of Mythical games.
While many people are currently struggling with unemployment, games are creating a new economy of people who can make a living by being paid to play games. These people include esports athletes, cosplayers, influencers, YouTubers, livestreamers, modders and many other people paid to play. Many of these careers did not exist a decade ago.
The recreation economics conference at our GamesBeat Summit 2020 event was moderated by Harold Goldberg, founder of the New York Game Critics Circle. He writes about games for the Washington Post and New York magazine. And he is also the author of Your entire base belongs to us: how 50 years of video games conquered pop culture. Goldberg also recently launched a podcast series with Reggie Fils-Aime, former president of Nintendo of America, on how games can have a positive impact on young people living in poverty and homelessness.
The big question is whether the game companies can create a long line for these people who invent careers that didn’t exist five or ten years ago so that more than just celebrities can profit. We already talked about this during our 2018 event.
Linden is a veteran of the Seismic Games (maker of Marvel Strike Force) and Activision Blizzard (Call of Duty, Skylanders). He started Mythical Games in 2018 with creative director Jamie Jackson and vice president Rudy Koch. The company announced that it has lifted $ 19 million in November. The idea is to allow players to earn money through digital ownership and savings held by players.
“It’s the concept that we can possibly make money in games,” said Linden. “A player could end up being in these virtual worlds and make a living in these virtual worlds. There have been many examples of this in the past 10 years, but we haven’t quite nailed it to the point of mass adoption yet. “
To raise funds for her own business, Linden assembled a team that had experience as studio managers. But he also promoted the idea of player-owned savings, where you can end up with a larger total addressable market. If the gaming industry is worth $ 150 billion today, you could increase the size of the gaming industry by increasing the number of stakeholders involved, said Linden.
The pandemic economy needs it
Linden believes the game is growing during the pandemic and that usage will remain high for some time. This enthusiasm for the game will be a catalyst for what Linden is talking about.
“We also consider it in the context of esports teams, influencers, brands themselves, in addition to the players,” said Linden. “We believe that two new archetypes of players are the result of this economic change. One is the trader or the speculator. We have seen part of it. People buy assets that may be scarce and keep them until they are worth more in the future. The other is the game entrepreneur, the one who understands how he can really be good at something and there is a financial aspect to it. “
If you watch the streaming, what’s interesting is that these people are making billions of dollars this year.
“And they are not in the game itself,” he said. “It’s a separate industry that sits at the top of the gaming industry.”
Goldberg asked for examples, like people wearing masks in Animal Crossing: New Horizons or other signs of DIY income.
Linden highlighted the 27.7 million people who attended Travis Scott’s concert inside Fortnite, the great battle royale game with over 350 million users.
“You brought a major artist into a major game and you see the effect of that,” said Linden. “And now most of his albums are back in the top 100”.
Linden also said that he liked esports team 100 Thieves, which distributed its virtual items for free in Animal Crossing. As a result, the team has gotten a lot of exposure for itself in the game. There have also been 100,000 trades on eBay’s gray market where players trade among themselves on Animal Crossing products.
Mythical Games is working on an open-source solution called Goods (short for Digital Goods) to create a commercially approved benchmark for the creation, management and distribution of in-game assets using blockchain, registry technology decentralized, transparent and secure. This technology tracks transactions and makes it easier to audit things. Mythical Games makes a double title Blankos, a sandbox world where players can create their own in-game toys.
Players can sell their creations to other players, and those players can take the creations and use them in new items. If the new item is sold again, the original creator may be paid part of the overall payment. You can buy characters and mix their parts to create new characters. This, in turn, ultimately fuels loyalty to the game, just as loyalty programs have won airline loyalty.
“People can make their own rules and bring out new game models,” said Linden. “The designer is ready for the ride. They have the ability to make long term money with these assets. We think it’s a must-have destination for games. We are starting to integrate these stakeholders into the economy. “