Recently cryptocurrency has become a major topic of interest, aided in no small part by Elon Musk’s ongoing mentions of Dogecoin. Most of us have heard of Bitcoin, Dogecoin, and Ethereum. But there’s a new crypto targeted toward gamers, and it’s got a fascinating angle.
Competitive gamers are probably already aware of the problem of “ownership” and currency in gaming. In competitive games, you can own items and accounts, but you don’t have the right to actual property or money. Selling items in-game is against most platforms and can get you banned. Game “currencies” take the form of NFTs.
But what if gaming rewards took the form of a decentralized “currency,” like cryptocurrency? The benefits of crypto are that there is no centralized entity controlling the wagering or the games, and that it can be traded between unrelated games.
Enter Chain Games.
Launched August 24th, 2020 with Super Crypto Kart, Chain Games describes itself as a blockchain-integrated gaming network that offers instant, decentralized payouts for gaming contests, in the form of its own cryptocurrency, Chain.
Chain tokens went from being valued at one cent at their debut to close to a dollar by mid-March. Today, chain tokens are worth a little more than a quarter each. The tracking data can be found here.
I was able to sit down with a Chain insider to discuss this fledgling platform and its crypto, giving a unique, inside look at how blockchain gaming platforms develop and grow.
Sandro Pires, an admin for the Chain Games Telegram and Discord and marketing partner for Chain Games, only got into cryptocurrency in the last three years. He discovered Chain Games in September of 2020 as a gamer. He describes most crypto or NFT games as being “too long and too boring,” with payouts that can take months to achieve.
“You want to put money on the table, play a game, and take your earnings home right on the spot.”
His first few games of Super Crypto Kart yielded him $20 in a half hour. Disbelief turned to interest.
Chain got its first big break when it partnered with Atari in October of 2020. (Note: Atari has a crypto called Atari Token.) Chain and Atari tokens can be used across both platforms.
Additionally, Chain Games supports Call of Duty, Madden, and FIFA. In a few days, Pires expects they will roll out compatibility with NBA and Apex Legends. But tournament-style e-games are only one facet of the Chain Games network.
“I don’t know if you know this, but moms are actually the biggest percentage of gamers in the world,” said Pires.
There’s a huge demographic of middle-aged women who enjoy casual mobile gaming such as “match three” or “bubble pop” games, such as Candy Crush. Pires’ own mother plays Chaino on her phone, earning a small amount of money on the side. (Chaino is Chain Games’ in-house version of Uno.) It’s these self-developed mobile games that separates Chain Games from its competition, according to Pires, as well as the instant gratification of getting paid out when one wins.
Currently, Chain Games has somewhere in the range of two dozen staff members, with much of its game development being contracted out to independent studios. In the next phase of their company’s growth, they are planning to create a marketplace, similar to the Google Playstore, where people can download and play games from out-of-house indie developers.
Many indie developers who make games to put on the Google Play Store rely on ads to generate revenue, or in-game purchasers. Using the marketplace, Chain Games wants to provide developers a lifetime commission; Every time the game is played, they will earn a percent of the revenue that is earned. What’s more, it won’t cost developers anything to put their game on the marketplace, and they will retain the rights so that the game can still be sold.
(Chain Games also wants to sell NFTs and merchandise on its marketplace.)
Another plan for the future involves the integration of fantasy sports to the platform. Pires says that fantasy sports betting isn’t due to hit the platform until 2022, but he has big ideas. In addition to the traditional model of fantasy sports, where people develop teams and then gauge their success based off of the real-life performance of the players, Piers envisions using the fantasy sport model to apply to e-sports streamers… or even developing competitive crypto teams.
But for now, Chain Games is keeping its focus on tried-and-true e-sports such as Call of Duty, FIFA, Madden, and Super Crypto Kart.
Pires described an early tournament in which a top player won a payout of tokens, valued at about $600. There was a two or three month delay in transferring the tokens; by the time the tokens were transferred, they had inflated to nearly $36,000. The company CEO, Adam Barlam, paid out the full amount.
“That gave me a lot of faith in the company,” said Pires.
Inflation is a concern for many crypto investors. To guard against it, Chain Games has developed a system called SmartBurning. SmartBurning ensure that the tokens don’t artificially inflate or lose value. For every dollar a player spends to play a game, 5% goes to Chain Games (of which 1% is “Smart Burned”) and 15% goes to stakers. This encourages people to stake tokens by ensuring they will profit from their investment, and also drives up token scarcity by having a built-in method of depreciation.
Chain remains a relatively obscure cryptocurrency. One of my major questions for Pires was whether or not Chain Games has pursued any celebrity e-sports players or streamers yet (or, following in Dogecoin’s steps, eccentric billionaires).
“Absolutely, that’s been a huge question lately.”
Pires says that some have expressed concern over a perceived lack of marketing.
“We’ve already started to approach top-level streamers and YouTubers. …they’re super excited, but we have them on hold until we start the marketing.” He says it will be “like an avalanche,” but as far as naming names, “it’s [still] a secret.”
“Adam [Barlam, CEO] loves his secrets,” says Pires. “He loves to keep quiet for five, six days. And people are like, these guys are lazy, these guys aren’t doing anything. And then he arrives and drops a few bombs. …He shuts up, talks about [it] when it’s ready, and blows everyone away.”
But Pires says it’s more important for the platform to ensure it’s on strong footing. He describes one online poker platform that was in development for four years – two of which it spent trying to get license from the Malta Gaming Authority.
“This is a thing people don’t understand… the amount of bureaucracy when you’re doing things the legal way.”
Chain Games is working not only to comply with laws but also to ensure the security of the trading platform. There’s also the matter of implementing measures like Paypal support and Fiat On Ramp.
Originally, the only way to stake tokens in Chain (in the United States) was to use the Ethereum network. (Outside of the U.S., Chain can be staked using Matic, Binance, and Pancake Swap.) Staking involves people holding tokens for a designated amount of time, which helps stabilize the currency.
Pires is enthusiastic about getting Matic support because of its lower “gas fees.”
Gas fees refers to the fees user pay to execute smart contracts when they buy, sell, convert, or trade crypto. Ethereum’s gas fees aren’t fixed and can run anywhere from $15 to $140, depending on the complexity of the transaction. Matic, on the other hand, has a fee of less than a cent.
As far as the Chain token gas fee, there is none. Chain Games pays the gas fees for the customer, since the customer is already using the Chain token currency to make wagers on games, and a portion of that feeds into the crypto’s stake.
For crypto enthusiasts, says Pires, this is all great.
“But I would say at least seventy or eighty percent of gamers have no clue how to do that [trading and staking]. So we need to make this as accessible as possible. Like a simple click.”
To that end, Chain recently partnered with Transak to allow people to buy Chain tokens directly, instead of going through the Ethereum network and losing money to gas fees.
For those who just want to play games and not worry about crypto at all, they can use standard U.S. dollars. But there’s a 10% fee for that, as opposed to the 5% fee for crypto users.
“This is to continue to benefit the token itself and the token economics. So the people who are using dollars also feel compelled to learn about crypto. So we’re also trying to teach people to do it, because it’s fully beneficial to them.”
Pires also points out that users are not depositing money directly onto the Chain Games platform. “Deposits” to Chain are put in the Matic Mainnet. He calls it a “ghost chain,” and states that the tokens are always technically in the crypto user’s position.
Learning a lesson from the Epic Games scandal with Fortnite, Chain Games is actively pursuing various licenses to protect itself.
As Pires put it, “We like to play it safe.”
Learn more about Chain Games: