Bandai Namco, the Japanese gaming powerhouse responsible for popular titles such as Elden Ring and Dark Souls, is actively engaged in research and development within the mobile blockchain gaming sector, with a specific focus on the Asian market.
In an interview with Decrypt at the Esports and Gaming Business Summit, Karim Farghaly, Bandai Namco’s Senior Vice President of Corporate Development, shared insights into the company’s perspective on blockchain’s potential role in video games.
Farghaly highlighted the company’s internal exploration of Web3 infrastructure and how it could seamlessly integrate into Bandai Namco’s mobile-centric business model.
Notably, he underscored the importance of understanding the differences between the Western and Asian markets regarding Web3, emphasising the more favourable reception of blockchain gaming in Asia compared to the Western world.
Expressing confidence in Asia’s receptiveness to Web3, Farghaly noted that the region’s lack of stigma towards blockchain games has resulted in increased activity by major publishers in Japan and Korea.
He predicted that the initial successes in Web3 and crypto gaming would likely emerge in Asia, citing the region’s more favourable environment for such innovations.
Bandai Namco has actively entered the blockchain gaming arena, collaborating with Double Jump.Tokyo and launching the AI-powered virtual pet game, Ryuzo. In Ryuzo, players can own Ryu creatures as NFTs on the Oasys blockchain, in which Bandai Namco has invested. Notably, Sega and Ubisoft have also committed to projects on the Oasys chain.
Farghaly sees a distinct appeal in blockchain games for gaming enthusiasts who are significant spenders, colloquially known as “whales.” He emphasised the allure of owning, trading, and retaining digital assets for an extended period. Additionally, Farghaly predicted that mobile gaming would play a leading role in driving the adoption of Web3 and crypto, citing the ease of asset extraction and minting on platforms like iOS and Google.
Thus far, games within the Web3 space have failed to really make an impact on the gaming space- primarily because they were designed with showcasing the impact of Web3 in mind.
However, taking a step back can be important sometimes- and in this case, we really should ask if people play games in order to marvel at the technology that made the game possible.
When phrased this way, the very notion seems almost preposterous- we don’t play games in order to see the latest technology being used, but because the game itself has content. Whether this content is an immersive storyline created by the developers or a very strong culture of socialising or engaging with other players in combat, people play games in order to enjoy the content of the game.
In many cases, what should be done really is to abstract the complications of technology away from the users rather than to put it front and centre as an attraction for users to play the game.
And this is where Bandai Namco’s entrance into Web3 gaming and Game-Fi can really make a difference. Japanese video game publishers have had a long-standing record of creating some of the most popular video game titles in the world- including Dark Souls, Pac-Man, Nier, Pokemon, and many more.
This expertise in video game creation will almost certainly translate into Web3 games with far better development budgets, stronger storylines, and more engaging mechanics that take advantage of blockchain technology without necessarily putting it front and centre for the audience.
As more gaming studios turn to Web3, the quality of games produced can be expected to improve- and GameFi may be due for a revival soon as these games not only attract new fans within the Web3 space, but also onboard fans that were previously only engaged in Web2 games of a particular series.