While the pandemic has caused pandemonium in most economic sectors, there is one where it has been a panacea – the world of online gaming. And one country in Asia has trumped most others in leveraging it.
Covid-19 has reignited Vietnam’s already growing online gaming industry, especially among young professionals. As a result, the online gaming sector hit revenues of almost US$530 million in 2020, double that of 2015, according to the Vietnam National Innovation Centre under its Ministry of Planning and Investment.
One company has led the charge: Topebox. Based in Ho Chi Minh City, the company is the brains behind hits like Pocket Army, Sky Dancer: Free Falling, and King Rivals. In April 2020, it received US$1 million in seed money from mobile publisher Habby for 16 percent equity, specifically for an innovative blockchain game, My DeFi Pet.
Topebox entered the blockchain games market early with My DeFi Pet, its first game. It included both DeFi (decentralized finance) and NFT (non-fungible token) features. “Users could earn tokens by playing the game,” said Topebox’s Chief Game Officer, Mr. Tran Dong Anh. “Users receive rewards by participating in the seasons and selling their monster game characters for profit.”
The cloud is the natural platform for online gaming because players converge from around the world. Cloud gaming, or gaming on-demand or gaming-as-a-service, is the default service model for games like My DeFi Pet which needs a lot of computing power and bandwidth for a seamless gaming experience. That’s where the problems creep in.
Topebox received excellent support from the blockchain and NFT game communities. “However, because we were in a hurry to launch it, we encountered technical and other problems,” Mr. Tran said. “That included stability issues in the backend, lack of expertise and experience about blockchain among our software developers, and optimizing latency and availability. We turned to CK (Cloud Kinetics) to help us sort these out.”
Why GCP (Google Cloud Platform)?
Topebox opted to go with the GCP (Google Cloud Platform) and CK, which offered specialized expertise for gaming companies. “GCP allows gaming companies to control of their matchmaking logic – as well as AI-based productivity and collaboration tools,” said CK’s Chief Revenue Officer Mr. Ted A. “Gaming companies can also choose from GCP’s services to power their backend ops, run leader-boards, and manage player authentication and database issues.”
Moreover, GCP also offered data warehouse and detailed player insights and analytics as a service. “CK brought a ton of experience and a team that knew which services were required and when,” Mr. Tran said. “We realized huge benefits from the relationship. The game’s performance jumped by 80 percent. The remaining 20 percent benefit was cost optimization and beefing up backend ops. We couldn’t have done this ourselves.”
The global NFT games market generated US$2.32 billion in revenue in the third quarter of 2021, according to data compiled by the Blockchain Game Alliance. That was roughly 22 percent of all NFT trading volume industry-wide in the quarter.
According to an article published in the WEF (World Economic Forum), almost 3 billion people play video games. There is an entire infrastructure around professional gaming that has created significant opportunities and wealth for top players. The very best of them are considered athletes – they are employed as salaried team members, share in prize money at tournaments, and command lucrative sponsorship agreements. Others monetize live streams by playing games on Twitch or YouTube Gaming platforms.
“Video games now represent a US$336 billion industry, according to Bitkraft Ventures, accounting for a vast spread of software, hardware, and intellectual property,” the article states. “Gaming has grown to become the world’s largest media category, ahead of linear TV, on-demand entertainment, film, and music. Almost all game-based economic activity is centralized, giving developers and publishers the rights to everything within their games. The business case for this is to capture the billions of dollars generated from the sale of in-game content, digital items, and subscriptions – but it also means that most players themselves have few ways to share in the value without following the route of professionalization.”