In brief

  • Ethereum game developers shared their visions for the future of the gaming industry at Ethereal 20.
  • The creators anticipate significant growth over the next 24 months.
  • Unlike traditional games, blockchain offers players a chance at earning digital assets of "real value," say devs.

During a panel discussion today at the Ethereal Virtual Summit, developers of Ethereum-based games discussed the possibilities and challenges ahead, including an expectation of significant growth for the blockchain gaming industry over the next 24 months.

Ethereal 4 sponsor advert for Zerion
Zirlin said that it was important to highlight the “concrete benefits” of blockchain-driven games, as the technology and purposes may not be immediately obvious to the wider audience. “Recently, we’ve seen a big move towards this term: play-to-earn,” he said, with players getting digital assets of real value by playing. He noted that some crypto companies are keen on subsidizing games by providing tokens to players, thus expanding their own user bases.

Moderated by Cecily Mak of ConsenSys, the panel featured a trio of active blockchain game developers: Peter Kieltyka of Horizon Blockchain Games (SkyWeaver), Ben Heidorn of Blockade Games (Neon District), and Jeffrey Zirlin (Axie Infinity).

On a more abstract level, he pointed to the growth of collectible card game favorite Magic: The Gathering over the years. He recalled that card shop owners helped cultivate its popularity by evangelizing for Magic, hosting tournaments, and creating content—but there’s an obvious barrier of entry with operating a physical card shop. Not so with digital assets.


“Blockchain gamers come into this space with digital property rights by default, so our players are able to basically run a digital collectibles business just straight out of their Ethereum wallet,” said Zirlin. “With Ethereum, this idea of everyone being able to have their own mini digital collectibles-based business... the only thing they need is [the] Internet and an Ethereum wallet.”

Heidorn chimed in, saying that when playing Magic as kids, they didn’t tell friends to go beg their parents for $30 to buy a bunch of cards—they’d give away some of their own cards to bring more people into the game. There’s a takeaway there for blockchain games too, he said, in terms of giving away assets to compel players to stick around and get hooked in.

The future of blockchain gaming

The conversation continued across related topics, such as the benefits of interoperability between games and how to create a level playing field for players that isn’t disrupted by whales.

Ultimately, however, they finished by discussing what will be most surprising over the next 24 months—and everyone seemed convinced that what might seem like gradual growth now will be significantly amplified two years from now.

“Even given the current growth rate, there are no silver bullets,” said Zirlin. “The space is growing at a very healthy rate, and I think people will be surprised at how that compound growth over the next 24 months shows itself.” He added that he believes that it will eventually seem like a “chemical reaction,” or explosive growth.


Kieltyka suggested that the next two years will bring further experimentation and development in the space as companies learn from their own efforts and others—as well as how players respond to those methods. “I’m sure there will be a lot of discovery in the path, and also discovery in learning from people’s behavior,” he said.

Meanwhile, Heidorn acknowledged that the growth can seem very slow right now: “It feels like we’re crawling along, just inching to get more support,” he said.

But he said that success seems imminent, and that blockchain game companies will find an audience—and some may be acquired by major game publishers. In tandem, he believes, players will be enticed by the possibility of earning real, valuable assets and help drive that growth through word of mouth.

“Within two years, we’re going to be really surprised at how rapidly this grows, and how successful a lot of these companies become,” Heidorn surmised.

Daily Debrief Newsletter

Start every day with the top news stories right now, plus original features, a podcast, videos and more.