Previously, we discussed the importance of choosing the right P&O solution to help you integrate player ownership into your game. But, to do so properly, you also need to understand the differences between the networks that underlie player ownership. Each network has its pros and cons, and knowing them will help you decide which solution you need to power your P&O enabled game to get the most value for both you and your users.
Centralized networks are the backbone of web2. These networks function with a unique third-party entity owning, storing, and managing yours and your user’s data in a central database. The cloud infrastructure that supports most websites and platforms we know today is an example of these kinds of networks - a large central provider that builds and maintains the storage of data for other enterprises.
The benefits to this network include simplicity, speed, and cost: with a single point of control centralized networks are easy to set up, quick to connect to, and cheap to access. You only need to connect to the central provider to have access to your entire database. Further benefits are security and scalability, as you’re using a well-established and familiar technology, one that can accommodate your needs regardless of player demand or game complexity. Add to this the baked-in connectivity to all major app storefronts, and it’s easy to see why most apps and games choose centralized networks as their network of choice.
"Add to this the baked-in connectivity to all major app storefronts, and it’s easy to see why most apps and games choose centralized networks as their network of choice"
But these benefits come with trade-offs - most importantly, a degree of lost control. By giving the authority over your assets to a third party, there is a limit to the trust you, and your users, can reasonably have in the persistence of your data (since you’re ultimately reliant on the security and longevity of the network). In the unlikely event the network closes down, you’ll lose access to the data and assets you have stored there. On top of that, there’s also a lack of transparency in centralized networks - these networks are by nature closed, so you won't have visibility into the asset transactions that take place within it.
Nevertheless, in many cases, a centralized network will be the right architecture for your game. If a centralized network does sound like the right fit for you, it’s important to consider the reputation of your provider. Since your data will be fully entrusted to them, you need to make sure that they are a partner you can trust - both in terms of integrity and stability.
An alternative to centralized networks, decentralized networks are made up of many individual nodes that simultaneously store and verify data across the network. These nodes are each owned and managed by a variety of entities, not just a single central controller. This makes them highly distributed, as a change to the network needs to be verified by most or all nodes, and so no one or third party has control over your assets. Along with that, these networks are usually open (all minting and transactions are recorded in a publicly visible ledger), making it easy to collaborate and offer interoperability with other games.
But there are trade-offs to this type of network too. Connecting to so many nodes and verifying each transaction results in latency, and can require a lot of energy. Frequently, this also entails gas fees - a toll that is charged by the decentralized network for use of its infrastructure.
What’s more, latency isn’t the only cost related to speed. Decentralized networks can also suffer from lag caused by traffic surges. When usage spikes, performance across the network begins to slow, resulting in fewer transactions being completed. These traffic surges can also affect the cost of those transactions - if a decentralized network is experiencing above average usage, then gas fees will likely rise too. That being said, this is in part due to the newness of the technology, and, as it advances, it’s fair to assume these traffic issues will likely become less frequent.
"By their nature, decentralized networks are able to offer users control over their own data and in doing so, enable player ownership"
Another potential downside is lack of flexibility: decentralized networks are mostly isolated and deterministic, meaning you’re unable to connect your game to other networks once you’ve decided on one. In other words, you can access collaborators and users using the same decentralized network, but you could lose the ability to connect with those on others.
While these tradeoffs are significant, they are frequently outweighed by the benefits. By their nature, decentralized networks are able to offer users control over their own data and in doing so, enable player ownership. Plus, decentralized networks are difficult to manipulate and all asset transactions are recorded in an open database, meaning that you can see what’s been done in the network and by who - creating trust and transparency.
If you think a decentralized network is right for your game, it’s important to ensure that you use a partner that you can rely on to resolve issues and be held accountable. Fraud and get-rich quick schemes are a problem in the space, so a trustworthy partner is vital.
Another option is using an agnostic solution to access both centralized and decentralized networks at the same time. These solutions work by utilizing an added layer that operates as a portal - instead of connecting directly to a single decentralized or centralized network, you can connect to multiple of either.
"You can enable the true player ownership and trust of a decentralized network, as well as get the speed and affordability of a centralized network"
The benefits of this solution are a sum of the pros of both decentralized and centralized networks, since you’ll have access to both. In other words, you can enable the true player ownership and trust of a decentralized network, as well as get the speed and affordability of a centralized network. On top of that, you aren’t confined to a single decentralized network, so you’re able to stay flexible - giving you and your users greater access for collaboration, trading, and collecting assets.
But, similar to the benefits, the trade-offs you need to consider are a sum of the cons of centralized and decentralized networks (aside from flexibility). The biggest being the latency and cost that comes with decentralized networks - since you’re still connecting to multiple nodes, the same energy and time costs apply. The key difference is that with an agnostic solution you’re able to get even more for these trade-offs.
Want to learn more about a solution that gives your player’s ownership without the downsides of centralized or decentralized networks? Contact us.