The surge in interest towards skill-based gaming has become increasingly pronounced, reflecting a deep-seated desire among individuals to secure victory through a blend of skill, agility, intellect, and accumulated gaming experience. Mirroring the competitive spirit of traditional sports, skill-based gaming offers a unique avenue for players to engage in competitive environments with the added allure of potential earnings, all without the uncertainty associated with chance, thus captivating a substantial audience.

The global gaming market, a colossal industry with over 3 billion gamers and revenue exceeding $180 billion, witnessed a significant evolution with the emergence of play-to-earn games in 2021. More than $2 billion worth of NFTs were traded, contributing to a valuation exceeding $3 billion. These groundbreaking games leverage crypto-assets and NFTs to secure ownership of in-game currency and items, establishing a tangible link between the digital economy within the game and real-world value. However, the advent of the crypto winter led to a decline in player interest in these games due to a perceived lack of inherent "fun." Skill-based play-to-earn games have risen to prominence by providing gamers with the opportunity to compete in beloved games while earning rewards based on their skills.

What is Skill-Based Gaming?

Delving into the specifics of this genre and its distinctions:

  • Skill-based games or tournaments rely on a player's physical and mental acumen. Consider the classic example of chess, where victory hinges on strategic thinking, planning, and pattern recognition for effective defenses and attacks.
  • In contrast, games of chance rely on luck-driven outcomes, from dice rolling to roulette to lottery participation.
  • If money is involved, a game of chance may transition into gambling, characterized by three key elements: the wager, chance-based outcomes, and a reward or prize. Skill-based games offering monetary rewards differentiate themselves by being skill-dependent.

Changes to Expect in 2024 and Beyond

  1. More Games and More Publishers: The mobile gaming sphere has seen an influx of skill-based games, ranging from casual to competitive esports titles. As the esports and skill-based gaming community grows, legislation is evolving to distinguish between games of chance and skill-based games. Market conditions suggest a surge in the development of sophisticated and immersive games across various genres.
  2. More Platforms and Distribution: Currently, iOS devices host several skill-based games, but the restrictive policy of the Google Play Store limits their availability. An anticipated change in policy could lead to a substantial increase in adoption, with the rise of web-based games already becoming noticeable.
  3. Global Reach: The market, propelled by NFT and crypto rewards, is no longer confined to the US. Significant growth is observed in the UK and India, pointing towards a broader global adoption.
  4. Personalization and AI: The gaming industry is exploring AI applications, starting as productivity tools and evolving into features catering to individual gamers, courtesy of generative AI.
  5. NFT and Crypto Integration: The resurgence of crypto is transforming the play-to-earn model and skill gaming, fostering experimentation and innovation.

The Fast-Moving Landscape

Real stakes against other gamers heighten the excitement of gameplay, but the existing infrastructure must undergo significant overhauls to accommodate this new era of competitive gaming. Platforms need to consider multiple elements, including difficulty curves, matchmaking, ranking systems, tournament simulators, and anti-fraud systems, to ensure fair competition and balance.

Continuing to monitor the dynamic changes in skill-based games throughout 2024 promises exciting developments. Among the emerging players in this landscape is Game Changer, a rapidly growing Web3 game publisher specializing in skill-based play-to-earn games. Their innovative approach, reimagining classic games such as Solitaire, Bingo, and puzzles, reflects the ethos of "simple to learn, hard to master," with crypto rewards for highly competitive skills. With daily tournaments, some free to enter, Game Changer stands as a frontrunner in this evolving gaming paradigm.