Given the importance of gaming worlds in today’s online economy, entertainment studios are always looking for ways to monetize their presence. Rockstar Games is the latest gaming giant that might have a crypto-based reward system in its hugely popular GTA franchise. At some point, market analysts and policy makers need to look deeper into the issue and propose a meaningful regulation for virtual assets and gaming communities, without stifling the segment.
Blockchain Tokens or a Real-Money Gaming World?
Amidst ongoing rumors that GTA 6 might include in-game NFT payments, gaming enthusiasts are talking up the importance of cryptocurrencies as part of online entertainment. One of the most successful gaming franchises in the world has already seen some short clips leaked and the fans are buzzing with excitement in view of its proposed 2023 launch.
While these tips have not been confirmed by the company, the inclusion of blockchain-based payments within a game is not something new. Hit virtual worlds like Decentraland, Axie Infinity and Roblox have long had non-fungible tokens (NFT) as a way to reward players, trade items and purchase in-game items. Some NFTs are traded outside the game platforms as well.
The gaming industry, in general, has been accepting crypto payments for a range of mobile app features, online cash contests and dragon tiger real-money games. What some see as a pioneering behavior from GTA 6 is merely due to the high-profile standing of the game.
More importantly, the times seem ripe to recognise the issue, look beyond gaming and have a public debate on the pros and cons of having crypto as a mainstream payment method. To many market experts, cryptocurrency monetization is already the elephant in the (gaming) room.
On one hand, countries like India have informally decided to ban crypto currencies that are not regulated by the RBI. A centrally issued blockchain currency is still in the making but the online economy waits for no-one – if GTA and other large gaming communities were to adopt crypto, how would the Indian government handle it?
On the other hand, limiting the question to entertainment alone is also an option. When asked about their opinion on making money while playing their favorite game, most users said they simply wanted to have fun. Others do it for the sense of bonding (online), given that many of us work at a distance from colleagues or live away from loved ones.
But NFTs in gaming are a solid reality, even when not linked to real-world money. GTA5 already had the LCN and BAWSAQ exchanges, providing in-game stock-market experience to players. And although the latest installment made Rockstar more than $ 6 billion, it might just go a step further, handing fans the chance to earn actual cash through crypto rewards.
Crypto Can Pave the Way for Gambling Regulation
As stated by Felicia Wijkander, Chief Editor at SevenJackpots, crypto and gambling are “cut from the same cloth.” Trading virtual assets is largely free from regulations, taxes, fees and anything else that is usually applied to real-world markets. At the same time, it is just as volatile as a gambling session.
And although we have seen a number of proposals to regulate crypto markets, the debate on gambling remains largely ignored – including in markets like India, Pakistan and across Asia in general – where it most certainly exists underground.
Most recently, India announced that its residents would be required to pay 30% tax on crypto earnings. The same slab is reserved for “grey area” profits like lottery wins and horse racing bets. Other markets like Europe and the US, considered mature by industry standards, have gone ahead and regulated the entire gaming segment – through licenses, limits, verifications and monitoring bodies.
Regulating crypto usage and trade is just as important as regulating gambling for the sake of protecting the consumers, not only minors. Rejecting the existence of an immense reality of online opportunities to play around with these makes no sense, not even for purely moralistic grounds.