New Ethereum Project Aims to Tokenize Video Game Items

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The ability to create decentralized applications (DApps) is widely considered to be one of the most promising use cases for blockchain technology.

Palm, a new Ethereum-based project, aims to provide developers with the ability to tokenize in-game assets in conventional video games as well.

Using Palm, developers can direct popular game development tool Unreal Engine to interface with smart contracts that run on the ethereum blockchain. In-game items can then be structured as ERC-721 tokens, which unlike ERC-20 tokens are non-fungible (CryptoKitties, for instance, uses ERC-721 tokens).

Gamers who purchase in-game items will have the autonomy to remove the ERC-721 tokens from the game — much like withdrawing coins from a cryptocurrency exchange — and sell them to other players or even transfer them into other video games that use a compatible in-game item system.

Palm was created by Tim Clancy, a University of Pennsylvania graduate student who told CCN that he first began experimenting with Solidity — the programming language used by ethereum smart contracts — after becoming involved with the Penn Blockchain Club.

“As a gamer and blockchain enthusiast, I want to see this kind of integration take off. Imagine being able to bring your favorite weapon or virtual hat from one game and into another,” Clancy said. “The idea is in its infancy, but I’m sure that some developers will find even more clever ways to integrate with the blockchain.”

One sticking point to convincing developers to utilize this type of system is that Palm is somewhat-antithetical to the prevailing business model governing microtransactions, through which items are sold in a walled garden to maximize overall profits.

But while Clancy concedes that Palm is an “academic exercise,” he also believes a system like this could gain traction if indie studios begin experimenting with cross-game assets.

“Both indie and large game studios stand to benefit from the security of the underlying Ethereum blockchain,” he concluded. “Instead of spending time developing or securing their own item sale platforms, developers can easily deploy item sale contracts and rely on the correctness of the underlying blockchain.”

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Josiah is an assistant editor at CCN. A former ancient and medieval literature teacher, he has been reporting on cryptocurrency since 2014. He lives in rural North Carolina with his wife and children. He holds investment positions in bitcoin and other large-cap cryptocurrencies. Follow him on Twitter @Y3llowb1ackbird or email him directly at josiah.wilmoth(at)ccn.com.