look what i made for you: apparently, while i am not a dumbass, many cryptobros are, and i am going to address a consistent stupid take

So! I wrote an article about why NFTs are bad for game design (please read it first). Tons of discourse, lots of really good feedback, and a handful of cryptobros in my mentions. A couple cryptobros really, really, really think I’m wrong and keep trying to posit a really weird and stupid scenario I feel like shooting down.

but first, a digression, because it’s hilarious

Right, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, hey, if you want to support me in my fight against crypto (or my attempts to post helpful, educational things for free with no paywall, hoping that you will find my work valuable enough to offer your support), here’s the places you can support my work. This all goes toward medical bills, equipment for streaming, games to research and cover, all that jazz. Basically, if you give me money, I turn it into staying alive and more educational essays.

How?

paypal: paypal.me/stompsite

patreon: patreon.com/docgames

venmo: @forgetamnesia

cashapp: $docseuss

If you don’t want to or aren’t able to support, that’s totally understandable, especially for those of you who are low income. My belief here is that you shouldn’t miss out on access to helpful, educational stuff just because you can’t afford it. I know I’m distributing it for free and people may choose not to hit up the tip jar. I get it. I feel this is still the right thing to do, so I will.

How Data Works

So, to recap: in the real world, objects are inherently limited due to being physical, tangible things. There is exactly one ‘your body,’ just as there is one ‘my body.’ Maybe one day we can clone ourselves, but right now, that’s not the case.

Somewhere in human history, someone decided that property could be owned, and, while I often lean left in many ways, I do still like the concept of ownership. I think it’s because as I was growing up, and people would barge their way into my space and take my things and make me feel generally unsafe or that I couldn’t have time or space of my own, I came to treasure things that were genuinely mine. I don’t know if I can fully make that leftist leap into “nobody should own anything, it should all be collectively owned.”

I have a book that’s been signed by the author. It means a lot to me, that specific book, but what happened if some guy walked over and, because he owned that book as well, took it, and cut it up, and made an art collage out of it? That would suck! I mean, I liked reading that book. Sure, his use case is just as valid as mine, but that book mattered to me in the form it was in; for him to simply take it, causing me to lose access to it forever, really does suck.

So to me, because of various personal history and thinking about it, the idea of personal property seems like a meaningful thing.

But then there’s the internet.

The internet is very cool because data is infinitely reproduceable. Not only that, but it is being reproduced all the time. Like, if I take a cd and I rip it to create the mp3, the cd still has the music on it. The mp3 is now on my hard drive. When I double click on that mp3, it is instantly duplicated from the computer’s long term memory, the hard drive, and transferred into short term memory, or RAM.

This is not a perfect analogy, but based on all the crypto bros I talked to, crypto bros don’t understand how computers work, so I’m trying to explain this for someone at like a seventh or eighth grade level. Computer scientists, please forgive me for being approximate for the sake of analogy.

This is also how the internet works. I upload a file — which means that I have a file on my computer (and this file exists physically, on my computer’s hard drive, as a series of on and off switches— 1 means on, 0 means off). The computer I’m ‘sending’ that file to then creates a copy based on the instructions I sent. The file itself remains on my machine; it isn’t physically removed from it until I delete it permanently from my computer. But now there’s a copy on another computer!

Cool, right? If I have a notepad file and I send it to you, you and I can both open that notepad file at the same time and do whatever we want to it because we both have a copy.

The internet, as technology, is exciting because suddenly things aren’t scarce anymore.

Take videogames. If you’re following me, you probably care about that, right? Well, back in the day, when a game developer like me makes a game, we had to put it on a cartridge, which costs money to make. A lot of money, actually — there’s a reason Nintendo Switch games are often download-only.

Notice those prices? Yeah. You couldn’t release games at like $17.99, the cartridge would eat all that up. Heck, even releasing games on discs is expensive —look at this diagram, showing how a publisher only gets $27 out of a $60 retail game:

A big part of this is things like shelf space — the thing that Gamestop has to have. They rent a store, often for thousands of dollars every month, which means they have to sell literally hundreds of games just to keep the store open and the lights on. Then they have to pay employees, advertising, internet, all that stuff. Only after all of that do they make a profit. It’s tough work running a company; there are so many costs to keeping a business running.

The cool thing about digital is those costs go down. On a server somewhere is the game. When you request a download from a service like Steam, the Steam client on your end begins turning a bunch of switches on your motherboard, on off, on off, on off, etc. 1s and 0s, baby.

The game is still on the Valve corporation’s Steam servers, but now there’s a version of it on your computer as well. Since that data doesn’t actually take up the size of a physical disc, and isn’t susceptible to nasty things like disc rot or battery death or what have you, Valve can store a lot more games. Since there’s no inventory that they need to move to keep the lights on, Valve doesn’t need to physically store literally millions of copies of Cyberpunk 2077, nor do they need to rent a warehouse where copies of the game are returned to them by players.

A bunch of switches on computers get turned on or off. That’s it. That’s all that’s happening. When you ‘download’ a file, what you’re essentially downloading is a series of instructions to turn switches on or off on your storage. The file itself is still located safely on Valve’s servers.

So, let’s take another use case. Avatars!

I’ve got an avatar here on medium dot com. How’d it get there? Well, I got the picture from the comic book Desolation Jones, edited it to fit an avatar size, then I ‘uploaded’ it to Twitter’s servers. Now Twitter has computers somewhere that have the same pattern of switches pulled on their end as I do on mine. When I created a Medium account, Twitter’s servers told Medium’s what my avatar looked like — sending that same set of “here’s what switches to pull,” directions to Medium, so now someone who logs onto Medium will receive a set of instructions from Medium on what switches to pull. That will temporarily store a file on your computer — a copy of a copy of a copy of an edited version of a printed version of a real drawing that J. H. Williams III made back in about 2005 or so.

There is only one version of Williams’ drawing. But just for you to see that it’s my avatar, it has to be copied a lot.

It’s like if I tell you how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. You have two slices of bread. You put peanut butter on one slice and jelly on the other. Then you use the stickiness of the peanut butter and jelly to bond the two pieces of bread together.

You now have those instructions. You have a concept. This is information. The information did not leave me to get to you; there is no void in my memory where the instructions for making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich are. We both have these instructions.

And it cost us nothing to share other than a little bit of electricity (because I am writing this to be read on the web) and a few calories of energy (so your eyes can look around and your muscles can press the input device and scroll) — which is so little that, well, yeah, it’s basically free. It’s a rounding error of energy expended. The sun puts out more energy in a picosecond than this article will use in a lifetime, even if it becomes the most popular essay for all time.

Information can be shared because it is not scarce. It is not tangible. I think something, I type it down. That idea can be copied and spread around the universe nigh-infinitely.

The Intellectual Property Idea

Now, a potential problem with information’s ability to be copied endlessly without it being a loss to anyone is… well, here’s an example.

I made the video game Adios with my friends and employees. It is a digital construct, and at that point, it becomes infinitely reproduceable. Now, I did this because I’m good at it, but it required a lot of money to make. When I send it out into the world, my hope is that people will pay me $17.99 to download a copy of that data onto their computers and run it as often as they wish, experiencing the art that was made for them.

Realistically speaking, I need about 100,000 different people to pay my company $17.99, which then has fees and taxes subscribed from it by the stores that sell it and the government, in order to be able to be able to fully fund my next game.

The Disney corporation is one of the largest and most powerful corporations in the world. If they wanted, they could pay $17.99, at which point Valve would send them a copy of my game. They could then play it, take all the ideas from it — the characters, the plot, the words, and so on — and have Pixar take my idea and turn it into a movie.

Because they are bigger and more powerful than me, they can do whatever they want unless someone bigger and stronger than them can tell them ‘no, you can’t do that.’ And that someone is the United States Government. If Disney ignores the government and rips me off, then the government can send men with guns to put the people who did it in jail, or force them to give me money, etc etc etc.

I’m not going to say this is a perfect system, but this is the idea behind intellectual property — property that is not physical, but ideas we have — and copyright laws.

If you come up with an idea, there is a protection for that, and if someone takes it from you, you have a means of recourse. If this didn’t exist, Disney could take the ideas I had and use their larger size to deny me the income I need to pay rent and keep the lights on and stuff. That’s what that law is for — to keep me safe from Disney.

Enter Hasbro.

Trading Card Games

Hasbro owns one of, if not the most popular, trading card games in the entire world: Magic: The Gathering.

I’m not going to tell you the rules because it’s considered the most complicated game that has ever existed, but it’s super popular, and it’s based on the idea of cards — little pieces of paper — that have a picture and a series of instructions on them. Like, you might have a card like Black Lotus, and it looks like this:

The idea behind trading card games is that each player takes turns pulling cards from their deck (an organized pile of cards) and putting it into their hand. The cards are shuffled, which means the order you get them in is random. With a bit of luck and with your wits, you decide what cards to play based on what your opponent has done the turn before you and what cards you have available to you. You play them by putting them down on the ‘playing field’ (which could just be the ground, a piece of cardboard, whatever), so both you and the opponent can see them.

There’s all sorts of strategy involved in hiding what cards you have in your hand, not knowing what cards are in your deck, not knowing what cards your opponent has, and all that. Because decks are shuffled randomly, you only kinda know what cards you might get.

But you can influence the odds.

You buy cards in small foil packages called ‘card packs.’ You open the pack and look at the cards you got. If the cards you got work well together (maybe a card says ‘for every monster card you have on the field, you can deal 1 damage to the opponent’ so you need that card and a monster card, but if you really want the strategy to sing, you hope for a card that has an effect like ‘duplicates your monster every turn’ or something), you build a deck out of them, base your play style around them (making the enemy run out of cards, lose life, etc), and go to work against your opponents.

But if you don’t get the cards you want, you can go to your local game shop, ebay, or wherever and sell or trade cards. Because the cards, you see, are your property. The card itself belongs to you.

But… not the Magic: The Gathering intellectual property, which includes the games or the rule. That means you can’t copy that card art above, put it on a T-Shirt, and sell it. This protects Hasbro from people who don’t just hire their own artists to design t-shirts, allows Hasbro to create its own t-shirts, and so on. They went to the hard work of inventing it, so they own the concept. What you own is the physical card, but not the rights to anything on that card in concept.

This means that we, the game makers, can spend money making things and make enough money to keep spending money to make things. A cycle repeats where you give us money to make the game, we make the game with it, and you buy it. You get a new game, we get more money to keep giving you new games. We can’t exist without each other, at least in a society that requires all of us to pay money if we want to eat and sleep and wear clothes and so on.

Now, I’m not trying to offer a value judgement on capitalism here, I’m just trying to tell you that in a society that requires some kind of currency to function, people who make stuff will need that currency in order to keep making stuff. So society protects artists by giving them a window in which to make stuff, which is what all that intellectual property stuff is above.

Trading Cards On The Internet

Now, because trading cards are infinitely reproducible online — literally every time someone looks at this article, their computing device for viewing creates a copy of the Black Lotus image above so they can see it — trading cards become difficult propositions.

If Hasbro prints 5 black lotuses in a run of 100,000 cards, then there are only 5 black lotuses in the world. If one is destroyed, there are only 4, and so on and so forth. This was explained in the first episode of the popular children’s television show Yu-Gi-Oh, when the villain, Seto Kaiba, destroyed the fourth Blue Eyes White Dragon card, which meant he had the only three in existence, ensuring that “no Blue Eyes White Dragon Could Ever Be Used Against Me.”

He probably could have just… put it in his deck, but no, dude tore it up. Later, another character would underscore this point by throwing all the cards required to summon a monster that guarantees an instant win in the ocean.

This is not a problem online.

(some of you may argue that in Yu-Gi-Oh! it’s illegal to have more than 3 copies of a card in the deck, but you forget that Seto Kaiba does not follow the rules, or did you forget the famous “screw the rules, I have money” meme?)

So, how do trading card games work online?

Well, you download a client onto your computer. This is a program that runs the game. In most of these games, this client communicates with a program running on a computer that the game company owns. The server then sends a message to a player

Another thing on this server? Account information. You know when you sign up for, say, gmail? Well, they have a computer somewhere with your mail on it, and when you ‘sign in’ through your web browser, you’re basically opening a portal to the mail room that lets you look at your mail. It will stay there until someone deletes it, and you can access it whenever you have a browser or other mail program to access it.

But in a card game, it’s not just messages, it’s also your inventory. The client can trust the server, but the server does not have to trust the client. So if you say “i have this really rare card” and you haven’t unlocked it on your account, then the server will be like “no you don’t.”

This helps prevent cheating. In person, if a guy says “i play my really rare card,” then you and everyone else in the room can say “okay, where is it?” He can’t lie about what’s in his deck or in his hand. He has to play by the rules and play fairly. Online, the server serves as referee. A lot of game cheating happens when the client is able to send dishonest information to the server. Like, if someone is able to tell his server “I scored 900 points so I win” and his server trusts it, then he wins the game.

To create the same effect as certain cards being made rare, in digital games, they have a drop chance. Take our 5 out of 100,000 example earlier. In this simplified example, we could say that the loot table (a list of all the things you COULD get and what chance you have to get them) a certain card pack puts the Black Lotus drop rate (the chance you have to get it) at 0.00005%. You tell the client “I open a card pack,” it asks the server “does the player have a card pack they can open?” and if the answer is yes, then the answer ALSO says “and this is what the player got.”

That information is then added to the player’s account.

Now, at this point, the people making the game can offer the ability for players to trade cards. In the real world, I just go “hey, you want this?” and you go “yeah ok” and I hand it to you. Or we can trade, and I can be like “I see you have this card I want. I have this card that you want. Shall we exchange them?” and you and I can choose whether or not to do this.

But computer games aren’t in the real world, which means for any functionality to exist, a bunch of programmers have to get pissed off trying to make it work, and then the UX designers have to make it look and field good, and so on and so forth. It takes a lot of people to make any verb (drive, shoot, run) in a game function, and trade requires even more.

There’s a problem with that.

But first, a detour.

In my last article, I explained how it would be absurdly difficult to transfer, say, a Browning BAR gun through various console generations. It would have to get remade from scratch in time. In the past few days, I’ve thought a bit more about this, and talked to people online about it, so, here’s that:

A crypto idiot thought he cornered us by saying “if you get a skin in Fortnite, when Fortnite shuts down, wouldn’t you want to put that in another game?”

Well, the first question is: what kind of game? Like, consider, if you will, Mario, from Mario 64.

Now She-Hulk, from Fortnite.

You will notice that Mario is shorter and fatter than She-Hulk, who is tall and buff. Both of these characters have different skeletons, which means they also have different animations. Mario is rendered one way, Fortnite is rendered with much more modern tech.

Three different corporations are also in play here: Nintendo (owners of Mario), Epic (creators of Fortnite), and Disney (the owners of She-Hulk).

Let’s say it costs $50,000 to make the She-Hulk model (we’re clearing it through legal, she has a ton of voice lines, has to do every dance in Fortnite, etc), and Nintendo makes a new Mario game. Fortnite shuts down, but you paid real money for that She-Hulk skin!

The blockchain proponents will (foolishly) tell you that you can (and deserve to) just… put those assets in another game, but that’s not true. There are technical hurdles (different games have different technologies, so you might literally have to remake the entire character from scratch), and there are legal ones (what if Disney doesn’t want She-Hulk to show up in a Mario game?).

But also…? It costs money.

She-Hulk cost $50,000 to make in Epic’s game. Does Nintendo have to pay another $50,000 to recreate her with their own unique technology? Remember, if you bought the skin, you own it already, so you wouldn’t need to pay for it again. That means… Nintendo takes a $50,000 loss to make one character so you (and maybe no one else, if it’s a one of a kind skin) can enjoy it.

Ask yourself who in their right mind would ever take a loss just so one person could be happy they have the only Fortnite skin of its kind, and then transfer it into another company’s game entirely.

We kinda discussed that last time, but let’s continue.

The only way for this to happen is if everyone agrees to use the exact same technology and never change it. If you’re doing this, you’re holding back innovation; you’re saying we can’t move from rasterization to raytracing, or from pixels to polygons. The only way around this is to have to actually spend a ton of money recreating this stuff as technology advances, which is, again, why no one would ever want to do it.

Another goal of blockchain/crypto/NFT proponents is to do stupid shit like say “there can be only one She-Hulk skin, so you can feel good about being the only person with the She-Hulk skin, and no one else can have it,” which means Disney only gets money from one She-Hulk skin, which is stupid for them because it’s way better to get a cut from every skin sold than just one, and it means that literally 99% of the fanbase can’t have something, and they won’t feel happy about that.

That’s a huge waste just to make one person happy. There’s literally no reason for there to be scarcity online. We already covered this; for you to buy into the whole stupid idea of NFTs, you have to pretend to yourself that you have the only copy, even though for you to simply ‘look at’ the copy on your phone, you just copied the copy and aren’t looking at the ‘real’ series of bits.

Hell, even just… displaying the bits on the only hard drive it’s on are essentially rendering the series of instructions that are telling the monitor what pixels to light up.

You have to believe that, say, X-Men (1991) #1 “will be really valuable some day” (if you never ever looked at your copy of that comic that you bought in mint condition, thus never got any use out of it, well, uh, it’s now gone from like $1.50 to $12 — if you keep up with inflation, that means that $1.50 is worth about $3 now, so you barely made anything, and the lower current buying power makes it even worse lol) in order to trick yourself into thinking it’s a good investment. If you can’t convince anyone else it’s worth a million dollars, and they only believe it’s worth 12, the cost of storing it likely outweighs the cost of just… not investing in it. But hey, the copy of X-Men is still like a physical thing. If someone wants to acquire that object from you, they can compensate you for the absence in its life by offering you something for it.

All an NFT is? It’s a document saying “you’re allowed to pretend you have the only copy even though you don’t.” There’s no value in this for the creators, there’s no value for the players; the only value is inside the mind of the person who has it, and inside the mind of anyone he can convince of this. Of course, most of us aren’t stupid, so we won’t be convinced.

Again, all the blockchain is is a distributed ledger. That’s it. A bunch of computers with the same excel file (a dramatic oversimplification but a fair one to make). It’s not magic. It’s not autonomation. It’s just a bunch of database entries that a bunch of computers have to agree on, instead of just one (far more energy efficient) central server.

Anything the blockchain can do, a central server can do better.

The blockchain guys want you to pretend that we can’t just give that she-hulk skin to every customer, it wants you to believe you ‘own’ the skin. But of course, the skin is actually Disney’s intellectual property, made for use in Epic’s intellectual property, using Epic’s intellectual property (unreal engine 5) to render. What you now ‘own’ is… a token that says you can do what you want with the skin.

But!

That’s 3d.

We’re talking about card games. Theoretically, every card game in existence can use the same file/image for the Black Lotus. It doesn’t ever have to change. It’s not like cards have raytracing now or anything, right?

Why I’m Doing This

So by now, you probably get why I’m doing this. NFT guys keep saying that basically, cards are super easy, we’ll figure out 3d tech like the Browning Automatic Rifle later. That’s stupid, but even more stupid is their next suggestion, which is that when a game shuts down right now, including your account, you no longer have access to those cards.

With the blockchain, they argue, you would still have access to those cards.

The reason this is so fucking astronomically stupid that I have to assume they never graduated preschool is this: the cards need the game to exist.

See, in a physical card game, even though cards can be destroyed, or like, you and I could go print out every picture of a magic the gathering card we see, laminate them, and play the game ourselves without paying hasbro anything, or whatever else, no matter what, we can play the game.

Why? Because you and I are the computers and the software both.

I can read a card. It says “destroy target creature.” I know what that means, I can put the card down on the field, I can destroy the target creature, you will sit there and go “yes that’s what the rules say” and not argue that I don’t have the card (we can both plainly see it and we both know what it says) and we play the game by its rules and have fun.

Not so in computer land.

Remember the whole “client/server” thing I discussed earlier? Yeah, okay, just… do something for me real quick. Open up a notebook file and type “destroy target creature.”

Does anything happen?

No?

Right, it’s a silly example, I know, but the crypto bros are so stupid that I have to make sure this is operating at its most basic level. Nothing happens because there’s no context. Computer programs are basically just a way of interpreting what inputs (button presses, screen swipes, etc) change the pixels on our screens.

If I want to play a card that says “destroy target creature,” and that card needs to have the effect it says, then you gotta have a client that understands how to display the card, draw it from the deck, enact the rules once the card is played, and so on and so forth. I’m not physically reaching over to your side of the board and going “I destroy the target creature,” or if you pick it up, you’re not taking the creature going “you destroyed the target creature,” the computer is interpreting my input with that desired outcome and showing you and me that it happened. The computer is following our directions, and it takes a lot of work to do that.

But.

What this means is that the owners of the IP are the only ones who can actually make a Magic the Gathering video game. Or they can license it out to someone — give them permission to make it instead. They can control how the game is depicted and monetized and works, protecting themselves, (let’s say a licensor started advocating for pollution— in order to avoid appearing pro-pollution, Hasbro could revoke the license, and the licensor would suddenly be in trouble if they tried to associate Hasbro’s property with the licensor’s stance on pollution) and they can ask the government to stop certain people from trying to steal the efforts of their hard work and profit off it, undercutting their ability to do the same.

This is why fan projects get killed. Remember AM2R, the Metroid 2 remake? That got taken down because Nintendo was already making their own remake, licensing it out to MercurySteam. It was called Metroid: Samus Returns. That sucks, but it makes sense; if AM2R is free, why would anyone buy Metroid: Samus Returns, a $40 video game. If enough people failed to buy Samus Returns, then Nintendo would not have given MercurySteam a chance to make another game, and we wouldn’t have gotten Metroid Dread.

(an entire discussion could be had now on things like corporate incentives to innovate, how much it costs to create technology, how the world would be better if we lived in a post-scarcity society, etc etc, but let’s not do that now. i know that i’m kind of dangerously close to saying “nobody would make anything if they wouldn’t profit, you need profit motivation to innovate” and that’s a really stupid, pro-capitalist thing to say, but what i’m trying to say is that “while we’re trapped in the capitalist system, the only way we can organize most people to massive endeavors requiring hundreds of people is, in fact, profit incentive; the promise of a biweekly paycheck reward is currently a great way to get hundreds of people to work towards a common work of creative art”)

So.

Magic cards can only be played within the ruleset of Magic: The Gathering. In person, yes, theoretically, we could take Magic cards and invent a new ruleset with the existing cards, but on computers, a program has to be made that can interpret and enforce Magic’s copyrighted rules and display its copyrighted content. If we want to take Magic cards, designed for Magic, and we put them in, say, Digimon, then… what do we do with this?

HERE’S THE ENGLISH RULES FOR THE Sakuyamon BT5–044 Card Effect:
[Opponent’s Turn] When an opponent’s Digimon moves from the breeding area to the battle area, it gains <Security Attack -3> (This Digimon checks 3 fewer security cards) for the turn. [Your Turn] All of your opponent’s Security Digimon get -3000 DP.

How does a Magic card work with “Security Attack,” “moving from the breeding area to the battle area,” “checking security cards,” “reducing DP,” and so on. What does any of that mean? How do they mesh? The rules are different, and that’s just on a technological level.

In order to make it so cards can move from one game to the next, every card game has to be indistinguishable from another and play the exact same way, stifling innovation in card games, or someone still has to go to the monumental effort of telling every single card in every ruleset in every blockchain-fueled TCG how to actually function.

That’s potentially tens of millions of lines of code!

And that doesn’t even count the game design, which is thousands of hours of painstaking balance and tuning decisions. Even if you figured out a way for a client to understand adding Magic cards to Go Fish, how do you make sure that an octopus doesn’t instant win the game or something? So everything has to be redesigned, retuned, and rebalance, because you’re taking at least two different alien rulesets and slamming them into each other.

And, if you’re a game developer, once you’ve done all of this, how do you even know you have the rights to display, in your game, cards from someone else? Someone may ‘own’ that card, but they don’t own the IP rights. You can’t just take another corporation’s intellectual property and put it in your own game. You have to get their permission.

Imagine, if you can, the clusterfuck of trying to get 100 different corporations to let you put their hard work into your game for free because you made a stupid blockchain game and some jackass with cards from every one of those companies, as well as limited edition cards from non-trading card companies (magic: the gathering had a godzilla crossover, for instance, so you’d have to get permission from hasbro, who gets permission from toei, and you have to get permission from toei yourself as well).

Do you have any idea what this costs?

Do you or someone you know play Magic: The Gathering Arena? How much has been dropped on it? $10 a month? $20?

Well, if you’ve made a blockchain game, you have to pay employees, lawyers, and likely royalties, but you can’t sell or profit off of those peoples’ IP without a license. Those can be nearly impossible to get a hold of (this is why Vice City’s soundtrack has been gutted, why Forza Horizon 3 is no longer available to purchase online, and why the Ace Combat PS2 games will not be remade, for instance), or too cost effective for most companies to want to do. But if you’re on the blockchain and that means you must allow people to take the cards they own and put them in your game… you’re spending a ton of money on something you cannot make money from.

It’s the cost of doing business, a monstrous tax that has nothing to do with what you’re making. It’s literally just something you burdened yourself with for… what? So some guys online could pretend they owned individual copies of things from IP holders other than yourself? What does anyone get out of that other than some weirdos who pretend they have the real thing when all they have is a copy of a copy of a copy?

It’s literally cheaper, easier, and more logical to accept one simple fact: The card is useless when the game client dies.

The game can’t be revived by someone else — the IP holder owns the rights — the cards can only be transferred to games where they have permission to be from the rights holders and where the cards have all been implemented. The rules that say this magic card and this digimon card can be compatible with each other have to be written beforehand.

There is a way to simplify this: it requires blockchain devs to agree that no matter what, any game on the blockchain has the right to and control over your IP’s use in the confines of the game. Like… everyone on the blockchain has to agree to get along, forever. Everyone has to accept that maybe someone adds a political message they disagree with, there’s nothing they can do about that.

Like, what if you made a card game about musicians you liked and someone showed up and edited all your cards to say that you and the musicians you like are all “stupid hoes.” That’d be pretty uncool, right? Or what if an advertising company created a blockchain game and then used your brand to market their product? You have no control over any of this. That’s just what you’re going to have to accept if the blockchain requires all games to be compatible. Again, there’s no technological advancement that might eventually make the tech you’ve put in obsolete, and someone adding to the blockchain in 10 years is gonna have way more games they have to accept compatibility with than someone making it right now. So the cost goes up while the tech gets older? Who would want to play games like that?

“Oh, well, if magic the gathering arena was on the blockchain, it would just stick around forever.”

Why?

Microsoft moves Windows forward — software designed for Windows 3.1 or DOS doesn’t always work on a Windows 11 system. Even Windows 7 and 8 support is diminishing, and some games just don’t work right at all. At some point, that client won’t keep working. What happens if the company closes down and then someone discovers a nasty vulnerability in the client that lets people get hacked? If you force a client to stay up, it becomes less secure and less stable. At some point it just won’t run without maintenance.

If it costs them money and doesn’t make money, corporations won’t maintain it. That’s why MMOs get shut down. At the same time, for licensing reasons, the company might not be able (or want to) simply release the game to the public domain, so it’s not as if enthusiasts can take over. This means the game is just… gone. It is inoperable. Just like a theme park needs ride operators and constant maintenance, a game needs developers and constant maintenance.

So… if the company decides they don’t want you to keep playing Magic: The Gathering Arena, but they also don’t want to let other game developers make Magic: The Gathering Arena clones, or if they DO but no one could make money off them (because you already have them and so you are the only one for whom they possess value) then you have cards that are completely worthless.

(because, hey, there’s literally nothing in it for them within our current capitalist system)

(and the thing about blockchain and crypto is that it’s about making things literally scarce or limited that don’t need to be, attaching concepts like property and value — literally defining features of a capitalist system — to things that literally don’t need to be, so it’s conceptually completely opposed to the idea of someone not owning something so everyone can share it. none of the companies interested in getting into crypto have any interest in giving away their IPs like this)

Do you get it?

Do you get it at all now, Crypto fuckers?

What you want requires insane amounts of effort, more than anyone has ever put forward, out of altruism, out of a desire to give a minimum of one person the ability to take a thing with them through every game. Why? Why would I spend literally millions of dollars to lose control of my IP so some guy who paid me $3 for a packet of cards can will a digital copy of his card to his kid?

You’re making a lot of people do a massive amount of effort in order to believe a digital thing is scarce and possesses value.

How fucking stupid are you?

There’s no fucking return on investment. It’s just… choosing to spend a lot more money on an asset than you’ll make on it. Oh yeah sure I want to be trapped for life spending millions of dollars constantly fucking with my game so this dumb shit can slam his cards together like action figures in the hands of a five year old, even though he paid me like $0.60 cents for this.

There is no reason to design a game that is compatible with every other game unless you want to stifle innovation so all the cards can work together and a single program can make them all function when it costs more than you’d ever make to make it. It would literally be better to give your money to a bunch of kids on the fourth of july so they can burn it.

The games have to be less interesting, all the companies have to be willing to let people do whatever they want to their IP, and someone has to spend their time and money maintaining something that they will literally never get any compensation for.

What’s the point? Where’s the fun? The technology doesn’t make any goddamn sense. It’s so fucking backwards. The reasoning is backwards too. I get that you want to pretend you own a specific agreed-upon idea of a thing even though it would literally be better for everyone if we all just agreed it was infinitely reproducible, but doesn’t that just kind of make you crypto bros a bunch of jackasses?

Why is the labor worthwhile? What makes it worthwhile? So you can hope your fuckin digital beanie babies or baseball cards still hold value for your grandkids? News flash, ‘collector’s items’ are almost always anything but. Most of the things they’ve told you are collectible — whether it’s commemorative coins in the back of a magazine or a falling-apart-bad statue of an overpriced video game — get thrown out because nobody wants them. Building an entire ecosystem around an unpopular idea is something only stupid motherfuckers would do.

For this to work, you would literally have to change centuries of human behavior regarding the concept of collectibles. People would suddenly have to actually embrace, say, baseball cards at scale.

They aren’t gonna do that.

The whole culture would have to change to make your technology work. And that almost never happens unless the use case is simple, intuitive, and the benefits are tangible. Refrigeration made sense to people because it made storing food easier. Cellphones made sense because suddenly you were reachable anywhere and you could play snake.

The blockchain? You keep shouting “you don’t understand it” at everyone who tells you it sucks because either they’re smarter than you and understand it sucks, or they don’t understand what it’s used for because it’s a bad technology that isn’t simple and intuitive enough to work.

It’s not going to make it, you understand?

Asking people to move the pyramids so you can pretend something that isn’t true is true and declaring that your weak, consensus-requiring imagination is the way of the future is so goddamn tiny minded of you, you weird little freaks. Why is it you can only get your jollies off if you delude yourselves into thinking a copy of a copy of a copy is the real thing?

In the digital world, there is no real thing.

And that’s fucking awesome.

if you like my work, please hit up my tip jar or support me on patreon. if you don’t like my work, either hit me up in good faith with feedback or don’t do anything at all. and if you’re one of those weird crypto dumbfucks who keeps trying to make me feel bad for being disabled, shut the fuck up, you worthless, ableist shitstain. history won’t look upon you kindly because it won’t remember you at all.

edit:

And Another Thing!

If a company did want to go to the expense of taking content that existed in a game they made and move it to a future game themselves, well, Pokemon does it (because it’s a simple, turn-based game that doesn’t really change, and the changes rarely meaningfully alter the game — like transferring a pokemon with an illegal move just means it gets stripped of that move when moving into a game where it isn’t legal, because the pokemon company/nintendo/gamefreak/whoever ported the game made it that way). They’re not letting us add Digimon or anything, and even then, as one of the wealthiest companies in the entire world, they struggled to keep up with 800+ unique pokemon getting added to Sword and Shield.

The way players transfer Pokemon involves physical copies of the games and hardware: game boy advance cartridges being plugged into a specific set of variants of the nintendo DS that let you use them, the base model or the DS lite, then taking the ds cartridge and putting it in a 3ds and using a piece of downloaded software from the still-operating nintendo e-shop to transfer it into a different piece of software, which can then connect to either 3ds cartridges, games installed on the 3ds, or transfer the games to another software that’s installed on your nintendo switch, which can then transfer it to your save file on the switch.

All of this is done so you can transfer legal pokemon you can prove you caught from ‘legitimate,’ nintendo produced cartridges, one to the next. Nintendo has to keep the 3ds eshop open for as long as possible, in order to allow people to move stuff between Pokemon Bank and Pokemon Home, even though they aren’t making 3ds consoles anymore, in order to satisfy their existing customer base.

None of that needed the blockchain, and the blockchain, as I understand it, can’t, say, take orders from just one company, The Pokemon Company, to change and add pokemon 810–898, or reflect new games being added to the blockchain that make moves from past games illegal, or what have you. If it changes by consensus, then Nintendo cannot be the central authoritative voice, and thus it can’t add Pokemon. So… what’s the point? How does that shit even work?

If the blockchain could be controlled by just one company, then all the supposed advantages of the blockchain evaporate and it’s literally just better for Nintendo to use a central server. That way they can jump from 2d to 3d and rebalance pokemon at will.

“but if I own a Totodile, I want to put it in Sword and Shield. It’s my property and my copy of the game, I should be able to do that with the blockchain.” The Pokemon Company was literally already doing this for you for practically free, now you want them to move to a technology that makes it harder for them to do, if they can do it at all? It’s hard enough for them to get as many Pokemon as they did. The reason Totodile is missing is because they still have to actually make him in 3d, give him a walk cycle and other animation cycles, do all the ‘play with me’ animations, rerecord all his sounds (because it’s not using those same pokemon crystal sounds), make sure he’s balanced for the game, redesign his move set in case any of his moves have been changed or removed from the game, etc. They still have to go to a boatload of work anyways, so why make the barriers to them doing this even worse? They didn’t have to include the GBA port on the Nintendo DS or DS Lite, and they didn’t have to work to make software that would let you transfer from a ds cart to a 3ds cart. They did all that because as hard and annoying as it is, it helps the brand. But switching technologies to make all of that even harder for them to do?

There’s no point.

I do some freelance work, game design consulting, and I’ve worked on games Hardspace: Shipbreakers and created games like Adios and Paratopic.

I do some freelance work, game design consulting, and I’ve worked on games Hardspace: Shipbreakers and created games like Adios and Paratopic.