In brief

  • PC shooter Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is gaining unofficial Bitcoin integration.
  • Players can win small amounts of BTC by playing the game and performing well.
  • Startup ZEBEDEE will launch the first servers this week with its Infuse technology for Bitcoin.

Crypto gaming is gaining momentum through original games like The Sandbox and Axie Infinity, but we’re also starting to see the technology implemented into some of the biggest traditional games on the market. Enjin’s plugin for using non-fungible token (NFT) crypto assets on Minecraft servers is one key example.

Here’s one that might actually earn you some crypto in the process. This week, Bitcoin startup ZEBEDEE will launch the first servers for popular first-person PC shooter Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) that implement Infuse, its technology that allows users to earn small amounts of Bitcoin based on their in-game performance.

And according to ZEBEDEE co-founder and CEO Simon Cowell, the news is already generating a ton of buzz in gaming circles: 

"The announcement of our Bitcoin integration with CS:GO has resonated with gamers in a way I haven't seen before in blockchain gaming,” Cowell told Decrypt. “Waitlist sign-ups are already enough to keep our first 10 servers full, so we plan to expand capacity very soon. I have a good feeling that we've finally cracked the infiltration of crypto into mainstream gaming."

Here’s how it’ll work: When playing on one of ZEBEDEE’s Infuse servers, you’ll scan a QR code at the start of the match with a smartphone app to pay a small amount of BTC, as little as 100 satoshis (1 satoshi = 1/100,000,000 BTC). Over the course of the game, your potential winnings will fluctuate as you rack up kills and/or die, with your share of the pot based on your percentage of the total game score.

At the end, if you had a successful match, you may finish with more satoshis than you used to buy into the match. Players can cash out at any time, and transactions are handled by the Lightning Network. Ultimately, ZEBEDEE plans to also launch servers that require no entry fee thanks to the support of partners, whose advertising will be implemented into the experience instead of charging players to compete.

While the amounts up for grabs will be relatively small, it’s an opportunity for players to “stack sats” and earn a little bit of Bitcoin while playing a game. ZEBEDEE is tapping into a potentially massive audience, too, as Valve’s free-to-play tactical shooter draws more than one million peak concurrent users on a regular basis, and had an estimated 24 million monthly active players as of early last year.

It also has a robust esports scene that has awarded more than $108 million to date and draws significant viewership for regional and global competitions.

According to Cowell, the company plans to launch 10 servers this week to start, and they will be open to all players 24/7 so long as there is space for them. Players will need to download ZEBEDEE’s desktop app to gain access to the Infuse-powered servers. ZEBEDEE plans to add more servers in time to accommodate additional players, and expects significant demand after demonstrating the CS:GO tech at recent MintGox Bitcoin gaming meetups, including one held last weekend.

Cowell believes that the opportunity for CS:GO players to earn Bitcoin will most benefit amateur and casual players who aren’t part of the professional esports scene, although he suggests that the ultimate impact will be wider-ranging across competitive gaming.

“The biggest revolution will be for ordinary players,” he added “At the moment, esports tournaments are only open to a small elite of pros who win all the money.”

Cowell said he believes the ZEBEDEE integration will change the world of informal esports gaming the same way Robinhood opened up the world of stock trading.

For ZEBEDEE’s sake though, let’s hope it’s not exactly the same way Robinhood changed trading.

Editor's note: This article was updated after publication to clarify that ZEBEDEE and MintGox are focused exclusively on Bitcoin, and not "crypto" broadly.