Profiling web3 gamers can help blockchain become mainstream | Opinion

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What’s a ‘gamer’? A G-Fuelled teen grinding battle royale victories? A cozy gamer enjoying an indie gem? A commuter playing Candy Crush Saga? The fact is, there’s no single definition. Most people play video games in some way, and they fall into a huge number of categories. Things have changed a whole lot since the original taxonomy of player types was created by Richard Bartle in 1996. 

A few attempts have been made to classify web3 gamers in the same way mainstream gamers have been categorized, notably Naavik’s 9 Types of Blockchain Gamers back in 2021. The web3 gaming audience is smaller than we’d have predicted in those heady days,  and that’s okay. It’s time to refocus and understand who we’re targeting right now and what makes them tick, which will make onboarding mainstream gamers and creating sustainable game economies more straightforward. 

So, let me introduce you to our core group of web3 gamers.

The Grinder

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The Grinder wants to see numbers go up and will work hard to make that happen. Think of that hardcore friend you had on Runescape back in the day or the World of Warcraft beast you’d desperately want by your side for every raid.

This player’s incredible level of dedication is essential for the health of the game. They’re ideologically opposed to spending money, but they’ll engage with game mechanics in ways that educate the rest of the player base, and their time commitment will lead a strong community within game ecosystems.

The Grinder shows the path, and other players follow.

The Optimizer

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The Optimizer sits between the Grinder and the Speculator. Instead of grinding for hours to maximize output or making major purchases to maximize potential profit, this player maximizes the efficiency of their time. If the Grinder is a WoW fanatic, the Optimizer is savoring the upgrades earned from their last run of a roguelike such as Hades, climbing the ladder in Candy Crush, or even getting a better time than their friends in the New York Times Mini Crossword. 

Unlike the Grinder, they’re happy to spend a little in order to make a little more, such as buying a card that optimizes their competitive deck so they can win more matches. By playing games much as any mainstream gamer does, this type of web3 gamer is key to facilitating the liquidity and sustainability of game economies. 

The Evangelist

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This gamer loves web3. The Evangelist wants to see web3 gaming succeed at all costs and will put in the effort to spread the good word. If a friend has ever desperately tried to get you to join a million Discord servers or squad up with them in a recent web3 release, you’ve met an Evangelist.

The merits of this profile are clear. The Evangelist will often lead community-building efforts and support the development team with a tenacity we rarely see in mainstream gaming. As a bridge between traditional gaming communities and the emerging web3 space, no one does it like the Evangelist.

The Explorer

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The Explorer is fuelled more by curiosity than advocacy, like someone who tries out a game they saw on Instagram just because it looks cool. They’re a digital native, aware of the excitement surrounding blockchain and web3 gaming, and they want to know more about what the hype is all about.

This is an example of a more entry-level web3 gamer bringing fresh perspectives and ideas to the web3 gaming space. We can learn a lot from the Explorer; in fact, they’re arguably the most important web3 gamer persona. If an Explorer is failing to make it through a game’s onboarding or churning out quickly from the game itself, it’s highly unlikely the average consumer will do any better. On the other hand, the more Explorers web3 can attract and engage, the more new and curious gamers will make the crossover.

The Speculator

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The Speculator is in web3 for financial gain. This individual seeks out early-stage web3 experiences that have potential to be big, allowing for a return on their investment into the game. Getting in early to purchase in-game assets and currencies is their bread and butter.

Blockchain skeptics may see a player like the Speculator as an unimportant or even undesirable person to have in the gaming community. It’s true that having a player base made up 100% of Speculators is unsustainable, but there’s a role for the Speculator now and in the future. By investing in gaming projects early, Speculators quite literally fund the development of the game itself and can help bring a lot of attention to high-potential titles. While they’ll likely eventually withdraw their profits from the game, there’s a space all types of web3 games can carve out for speculators. 

Web3 gaming isn’t where commentators in 2021 thought it would be. Again, that’s okay. Quality games and well-designed economies take time, and we’ve now got a much clearer picture of who web3 gamers are and what drives them. 

Gaming can be about more than just ‘fun.’ Even BAFTA has a “Game Beyond Entertainment” award category, prioritizing factors outside of sheer gameplay enjoyment and technical quality. So why is there a level of snobbery when it comes to web3 gaming bringing more motivation to play? Is there even a difference between motivation and enjoyment? Who are we to tell people that what they find fun isn’t actually fun? 

By focusing on nurturing a strong mix of the player profiles currently available, web3 gaming can create a positive and productive environment for the mainstream crowd to cross over and find belonging in the ecosystems we’ve created.

Canaan Linder

Canaan Linder

Canaan Linder has been at the forefront of blockchain gaming as CEO of Stardust since 2018. An engineer at heart, Canaan founded Stardust with a simple mission: to make game developers more successful in web3. Stardust has partnered with some of the largest web3-based games like Midnight Society and Tilting Point, a web2 mobile publisher. Canaan’s vision and leadership continue to redefine the gaming landscape, ensuring that through Stardust, the fusion of creativity and technology empowers game developers to unlock new realms of possibility in the ever-evolving world of web3 gaming.

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