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Levelling up with crypto: What does a future with cryptocurrency micropayments in gaming look like?

Speculation has been building that Electronic Arts’ title, Apex Legends, may begin accepting cryptocurrency micropayments for in-game content via a DLT-based marketplace. Such a move would be unprecedented for a video game of this magnitude and could open the door for more crypto-based purchases in the world of gaming. 

The future of cryptocurrencies is far from certain, but they look set to dominate the technological landscape for some time yet. At the same time, in-game purchases seem to be ripe for a convenient and secure micropayment system – where small fees can be paid for cosmetic modifications or additional content. So what will a future of cryptocurrency micropayments look like? EA’s big idea could pave the way for a brand new micropayments ecosystem in gaming, and it all started with a jokey tweet last year. 

‘Invest in Crypto’

When EA Tweeted ‘Invest in Crypto’ to their 5.6 million followers on Twitter, it was simply a deliberate play on words to promote a new character, Crypto, arriving in their title, Apex Legends. However, nine months on and the company’s pop at humour has taken on brand new connotations. 

Today, rumours are rife within gaming media that ‘skins’ and other cosmetic in-game items that exist more as an aesthetic enhancement as opposed to one based on performance will soon be available as a micropurchase on a third-party marketplace for Apex Legends, called DMarket. 

The move will enable players to trade among themselves conveniently using a decentralised currency that will aid small-scale international payments moreso than fiat currencies. Adding fuel to the rumours, DMarket’s CEO, Vlad Panchenko has continually expressed his interest in Apex skins on his personal Twitter page. 

DMarket exists as a DLT-based platform with an internal currency, DMC, which is pegged to the cryptocurrency, DMarket Token (DMT) at a 1:1 rate. Should Apex Legends skins become available to trade on DMarket, it will be the first time a game with a huge multi-million player based will be capable of purchasing content via a cryptocurrency. 

The Significance of Major Title Adoption

Apex Legends has proven to be one of the most successful entities in the online battle royale genre that’s also populated by the likes of Fortnite and Call of Duty: Warzone. Released in February 2019, Apex recorded as many as 50 million players within its first month. 

The game is still one of the world’s most popular titles today, and regular updates keep the userbase active. In its first month, EA made $92 million from in-game purchases, with character skins being the reason behind many purchases. 

Should EA embrace a peer-to-peer trading platform like DMarket, there’s vast potential for the Apex player base being opened up to more interest from players of rival titles. There’s also the potential for EA to raise some revenue with established trading fees accompanying each micropurchase. 

Embracing Crypto

Although peer-to-peer skins markets could in no way be considered mainstream, the concept certainly isn’t new either, with older popular titles like CS:GO and Dota 2 operating on a skins trading foundation for some time. However, crypto micropayments adoption would be wholly unprecedented for a title like Apex Legends, and it could really open the door for more of the gaming world to look into ways that micropayments can facilitate in-game purchases. 

However, it’s important to note that there are, as yet, no plans for cryptocurrencies becoming available to use directly in games, but more when it comes to trading on third-party marketplaces. 

Setting a Valuable Precedent

DMarket solely operates as an in-game content platform that runs on a distributed ledger of its own where trading data is stored. This has made DMarket an extremely appealing prospect for gamers to buy, sell, and trade items from various games like Team Fortress 2, Dota 2 and CS: GO. For developers, the arrival of Apex Legends on such a platform will aid the development of in-game economies and more seamless P2P item trading. 

If early forecasts are to be believed, Apex Legends content could be arriving on DMarket in August 2020. Such an arrival could help to revolutionise the micropayments landscape in the world of gaming. The significance of creating a platform where micropayments can be quickly and easily made across borders can’t be underestimated.

While skins are dominating in-game content today, smaller cryptocurrency-based payments could help gamers to purchase other small aesthetic items for their character or landscapes. Developers could add new soundtrack listings, new vehicles, even things like footwear and watches for players – all at an insignificant price that would only logically work if powered by a digital currency. 

There’s still a long way to go in terms of cryptocurrency adoption, but the true appeal of crypto-driven micropayments can already be seen in industries like gaming and entertainment. The arrival of a big player like Electronic Arts could be all it takes to kick a domino-effect of adoption off.

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