Gaming has become the predominant form of entertainment online, and behind millions and millions of followers and audiences around the world exists various levels of economies dependent on the participation of gamers across all platforms.
The economic footprint cannot be understated, Amazon’s acquisition of Twitch — the gaming streaming service that acts as the most popular medium for connecting gamers to their audiences — for $970 million USD was a legitimate investment into the future of entertainment consumption, not just from an viewing perspective, but the ability to have game developers directly communicate and interact with their audiences at large.
To put this in perspective we need to analyze the growth of Twitch and it’s services.
The streaming service directly interacts with 100 million unique viewers monthly, and the economic powers that be at Twitch have not let this fact go unnoticed.
Enter the state of microtransactions and in-game purchases. There’s no doubt about the impact that in game purchases provide to the longevity of a game’s economic model.
The state of in-game purchases and digital assets within a game has become so popular that it has picked up the baton from the impact that app purchases on mobile markets created.
This combined with the “skinner box” psychological game model has produced near addictive levels of economic return for publishers. In fact the “loot box” offered throughout many popular games such as Overwatch, Call of Duty, and Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds has become a political debate about the legality of the probability aspect of in-game purchases teetering on gambling for children to access.
However, this exclusivity has not gone unnoticed as companies such as PUBG Corporation and now Epic Games are taking up the mantle introduced by Valve within their games such as Counterstrike Global Offensive and Team Fortress 2 by creating secondary economies for players to resell digital assets to each other.
Enter the microcosm known as Twitch Prime. Expanding their ability to service the evergrowing community of viewers and streamers, Twitch offers a premium service in tandem with other services offered through Amazon and their affiliates that allows them to provide players with different in game assets unique to Twitch prime subscribers for different games.
This uniqueness has lended assets provided from Twitch Prime quite an appraisal within the community, with “loot boxes” from games like PUBG and the potential for acquiring limited skins and costume modifiers was going for $70 — a price that seems excessive until you put it up against the “alpha loot box” set offered for over $1,000 on Steam.
Currently on auction sites like eBay, Twitch Prime accounts for access to Fortnite loot boxes are currently trending between one and five dollars, which may seem small but when taking into account the value of the previous example given, five dollars seems like a worthwhile investment for the potential to make hundreds.
However, there is a drawback in Fortnite particular instance as to reap the reward one requires a linked Epic account and Twitch Prime account, making the fluidity of the asset much harder to extract.
This hasn’t been a unique instance of economic benefit emerging from recent trends — but merely a regime shift in genre popularity and the secondary economies that follow it.
If we were to take a very general timeline of the last ten years we see various games showing very active economies outside of their in game marketplaces — Halo 3 had the Flaming Recon head cosmetic only available to Bungee employees and certain individuals, the emergence of the Hat Economy in Team Fortress 2, the rise of the weapon skins economy in CSGO, and the successful implementation of limited character skins in the MOBA genre in games such as Riot Games League of Legends have all stood as examples to the rise of secondary economies that participants have become quite wealthy over.
Now as the digital asset economy has become more tested within this past decade, more efforts are being made to provide security, trust, and a better way to exchange assets outside of internal marketplaces like the Steam marketplace — and coincidentally on the topic of new economic regimes, technology such as distributed ledger tech and blockchain have stepped up to the plate to provide said marketplaces.
Products like WAX have now created external exchanges supported by Distributed Concensus that disintermediates a near 400 million large audience who exchange digital assets who range from different fiat currencies globally and allowing them to find a medium of exchange that directly affects their respective bank accounts.
In any case the yield and the impact that gaming has had is evident in it’s projection to be the replacement for the preferred consumed media, and financial opportunities will always be available in growing subindustries.