Explore ZBD's role in web3 gaming, where players earn Bitcoin rewards. Interview with Ben Cousens reveals trends shaping the future.
ZBD, or ZEBEDEE, is a leading player in web3 gaming, distinguished by its super successful games that rewards players in Bitcoin and its web3 services for developers. It also stands out due to its one-of-a-kind name, which has multiple meanings. Zebedee means "Gift of God" in Hebrew, which is a close guess but not quite right. It is a recursive acronym for Zebedee Empowers Bitcoin Enabled Digital Economy Engines. We learned about ZBD, its upcoming projects, the future of web3, and more in an interview with Ben Cousens, the chief strategy officer of Zebedee. Zebedee's primary mission is to enable virtual worlds to transact value in the same way that real worlds do.
Earn Bitcoin by Playing Zebedee Games, The Secret Lies in the Lightning Network
Ben: The core of what we provide is an API for the Lightning network, which is Bitcoin’s second layer of scaling. We are big fans of the Lightening Network and we think that it really works specifically for the games industry. The reason is that games as in industry it thrive on micro transactions. If you are playing a free-to-play game like Candy Crush, you make purchases once a week or twice a month. You buy something like a boost pack or power pack and that’s going to be a couple of dollars. The unit economics of that industry are measured in dollars are cents. Well, the perfect thing about lightning is that its for those micro-transactions that wouldn’t work on the main chain of Bitcoin.
So, what we can do is allow developers to share some of the value they are earning back to the player and then it becomes a different relationship of you as a game developer with your player. It’s also very sustainable because the revenue being shared with the player in the form of bitcoin price is a percentage of the game. So previous web3 games have overpaid to acquire users quickly but then they run out of ability to sustain the amount of earnings they have been giving the players. It says the rewards can grow with the scale of the player base. At first, the rewards are small but they get larger as more players join. Its the function of the revenue share.
Web3 Gaming Market Outlook, What Went Wrong?
Ben: A couple of years back we were independent of web3 and at that time the industry was seeing a tremendous amount of investment pouring in. Every number went up no matter where you looked. That began to collapse with the rise of inflation and interest rates. But being less macroeconomic, folks were over-anticipating market readiness for the technology. Another way to put it we were in the trough of disillusionment. So, you had a period of massive promise, the technology was discovered, and everyone got excited about the possibilities that it enabled. And then we got it with the hump of that and people started building and during the build phase people started to realize Oh actually this is complicated and it is going to take time. In many cases, the audience is actually not there yet. The community that was anticipated failed to materialize.
And it has multiple factors that got into play, it’s not only about crypto, it was the same with other technologies being adopted as well. VR is a great example, it had so many false starts before it got into any kind of mainstream audience and even today there is a question mark around whether VR is actually going to go mainstream. All eyes are on what happens with Apple’s goggles on that point of view. So, web3 is also in a similar place there is a lot of learning still to do, the user experience needs to get a lot better, the play experience needs to feel like entertainment, and the barriers to entry need to be substantially reduced.
The Use of Blockchain Tech to Market and the Driving Force or Use it as Underlying Technology to Further Game Elements
Ben: Blockchain as an underlying technology to further gaming experience is a fundamental belief I hold. I think you need to treat the protocols as tools, it's the same as email or the way the internet works using TCPIP, we don’t lead with that. When you send an email to your friend, it is the content of the email that your eyes and attention is drawn to, it doesn’t make you look for the technology behind the scene like the SMTP server you are connecting to. But in web3 we are still in that world, in Metamask you have to choose which RPC time you are connecting to, this stuff is far too technical. People aren’t going to do it.
There are so many contingent parts to making a web3 user experience more equivalent to existing user experiences call it in web2 or in entertainment mediums. There’s a lot of work to be done around here both around non-custodial asset ownership, security, etc. So there is a lot of work to do. All of these things mix together to result in very low userbases. We will get there, but I think people’s time horizons are a little bit off in terms of where the market really is.
Major hurdles to Developers and Game Studios in Web3/ What Mistakes Web3 Developers are Making?
Ben: I believe in the principle, of keeping it simple. Many game developers who were introduced to web3 concepts and blockchains in the last three years were led to believe or draw conclusions that the technology was ready for their audiences. As they began to work with it, they jumped head first, they went straight from a normal game, like a regular old game where there is nothing fancy about it, you play it, you beat the boss, and finish the game. And now, I am going to form a DAO, a governance token, an economy token, and then I am gonna gate it with an NFT mint that you need to access it.
So, basically, this is like putting up walls to access, suddenly, the user base just plummets. It is because people had to figure out how to get a Metamask, how to go to OpenSea, how to swap their ETH into Matic, and how to use that Matic to purchase the NFT. How to take that NFT and bring it to the DAO? There is so much to learn that most players were just like NO! I am out! I am done with this. And that doesn’t surprise me.
I believe we need to keep it simple. And one of the simplest things you can do is think about the incentive you want to give the player. What is the entertainment experience you want to deliver? And the fundamental question: is it fun? The technology and user experience aren’t quite there yet.
How ZBD’s Approach is Different? Free to Play and Earn
Ben: On the other side, there is a whole kind of earning incentive and we at Zebedee have linked into that. Because we figured out what we believe is the simplest way to do it which is to target very casual games with low friction onboarding and then match the user experience where the earning is free and does not require you to do anything other than play the game. We have had success there, we count our daily active players in the tens and thousands and we are pleased with the traction we are building.
The Securities Risk in Web3 Gaming
Ben: However, other risks are out there, the significant one among the lot is the Securities risk. Like it or not, it is the reality of the market environment in which folks are operating and the environment is such that the SEC is like a person walking around with a loaded gun and they are picking people in the room and shooting them in the head. And you don’t know which person is gonna get picked. To check who is gonna get picked is to see who did the token offering. If you are a game developer and new to this space, you should think twice because the risk of being taken to jail is actually real and in gaming in particular you are dealing with young audiences.
So, you are mixing security law, gambling, real money, gaming, and streaming. You are basically asking for a target to be put on your back.
ZBD Upcoming Projects
Ben: We have a couple of exciting game titles in the next 60 to 90 days in the hyper-casual and casual space. We have a couple of PC titles coming that are very well known and we are excited to preview those to the audiences and take them out to the wider audiences as we can possibly reach. I personally play these games and I find it fun and really excited about the fact that the teams at these studios have also seen eye to eye with us and believe that they can deliver a very engaging, competitive experience in play.
The best thing is that our software doesn't need any updates to the game to work. So players will be able to play the exact same game, download it the same way through Steam, etc and they can have fun just with a new enhancement that is powered by us.
The ZBD Experience in a Nutshell
Ben: We are continuing to really accelerate in the mobile casual space and we do view this as the easiest way to on-ramp into crypto through Bitcoin and then have fun while you are doing so. The play experience for ZBD is such that you might encounter a game like Sudoku or Solitaire or Tick Tack Toe, and you download that game and you play it and as you play it the game is telling you and showing you that you are winning Bitcoin for free. You claim it to your ZBD wallet where you also find a social network where you can talk to other ZBD players, you can send each other Bitcoin back and forth for sharing content and you can find more games to play that payout Bitcoin.
And we have seen in our community that people have been competing to flex how much free bitcoin they are earning and people talk about race to a million Satoshi. A million satoshi is 0.01 bitcoin. And people are jokingly having fun trying to play all the games to reach the figure, so they can call themselves a millionaire, I imagine. So, that’s kind of what the player experience is like, and we are continuing to bring a lot of traction there we have got nearly 100 games live now in the casual mobile space.
Sharing Content and Getting Pipped in Bitcoin on ZBD Social Platform
Ben: We are moving a little bit into hybrid casual and getting richer and deeper games coming in. And we are also seeing increasingly through our social network where user-generated content is coming to the fore where people are being pipped in Bitcoin for sharing content. You can see it as a community that is centered around the kind of magical experience of being paid factions of Bitcoin for free while you are having fun.
Your time is worth something right, time is money is the old saying, and now when you are playing games wasting time, especially in my parents’ eyes, now, you are being paid for it. So, is it a waste of time anymore? We try to make it fun we don’t get drawn into big debates around Bitcoin and crypto and its bla bla bla its not the point. The point is this is fun you don’t have to spend any of your own money, you get money for free and you join a community that is all engaged in the same activity and enjoying themselves. We are trying to build a positive space, that brings change to people’s lives.
Blockchain marketing to reach wider audiences
Ben: On one hand in my perspective is that the root of onboarding many users is to persuade game developers with popular games, that’s the obvious commercial interest we have. Bigger and bigger developers with more and more users and let them see the benefits that our technology brings. Our business model is clear, the reason game developers choose to integrate ZBD is cause their own games make more money, so the players start playing longer and engaging more because they are now earning something from the game. So the game developers are making money and the players are making money.
But on the other side, we do look at our community, it has started to actually scale at this point and one major development that happened was one of our developers created a social media protocol called NOSTR. It's going to about 20 million users and Jack Dorsi is a big fan of it. But the material thing from our perspective is that now you can take this community of gamers and you can allow them to interact with each other as well as interact with a wider social network. This social networking includes many features. So, one of the big ones you said is how we are going to get streamers, someone has built a clone called Zap Stream.
Zap Stream is like Twitch except when I am watching, I can hit the Zap button and can choose how many Zaps (Bitcoin in pennies) I want to send and pipping them in real-time. It incentivizes content creators to join the platform because they can keep 99% of everything that they make. The only thing that goes is the transaction fee.
Future of Web3 Gaming
Ben: I am an optimist, I do believe we will get to the full vision of web3 gaming as it relates to the metaverse as well. Although these concepts have fallen out of favor because they got way too overhyped and now it's like back to reality. I do think we will get there in the long run but the path to get there is not going to be a 2-year journey or a 5-year journey, it's likely to be a 10-year journey. Bitcoin is the oldest cryptocurrency, it's the OG, it's 14 years old. The vast majority of users of Bitcoin are still on the chain and not using Layer 2. So, the adoption curve of these things is much longer than people think.
I think it's gonna be a journey to get all the way to tokenized game economies that are interoperable. It's a lot of work that goes into that and many component parts simply don’t exist. One of the biggest examples of that is the beginning of the web3 bonanza, was folks talking about interoperable game assets and the crypto folks could see that, I could see that it would be exciting because all I need is a signature on the NFT, and to prove that I could that in the other world but on the game’s industry side there is absolutely no interoperability. There are no standard sets, there is no standardization for assets, avatars, weapons, skins, and animation. There is nothing! So, how could that possibly have happened in 2 or 3 years it was farcical to think so.
The Final Takeaway
Ben: So, I think the real message or takeaway I give to folks is, If you are looking for what can scale today, think about what the technology is truly capable of today and what it isn’t capable of. And I think what the technology is capable of is millions of instant small payments and to some extent asset ownership but you are gonna pay a lot of money for it. There is no scenario where a game scales at present where the collectibles aren’t going to be eye-watering in how much they cost to cover the transaction fees. Cause layer 2 is not scaled enough. But we will get there, like in 5 years' time. I’ll probably be sitting here and saying Oh great, now we can transfer this asset instantly and cheaply, fantastic!
Who knows where we are with the game’s industry if they have managed to create a set of interoperable standards yet? Who knows where VR has gone in terms of do we migrate to these 3D worlds and those become like game launchers? Do we go to Meta’s Horizon labs to open up Fortnite, Do we go to Apple Vision to open up Counter-Strike, I don’t know. These questions are still to be determined by the market. So, I’d focus on the simple mobile games that pay you for free, web3 experiences in the browser that are focused on both simple value propositions and don’t get over complicated with tokenomics and DAOs. These things can function well today. We will probably get to the metaverse in 15 to 20 years that’s my take on the future.
Who is Ben Cousens, and what role does he play at Zebedee?
Ben Cousens is the Chief Strategy Officer of Zebedee. He plays a significant role in the company's strategic decisions and vision. In the interview, he shares insights into Zebedee's mission and future projects.
How does Zebedee make gaming more sustainable for both developers and players?
Zebedee's approach allows game developers to share a portion of their earnings with players, creating a sustainable model. Rewards start small but grow as more players join, ensuring long-term viability without overpaying for user acquisition.
What are the major hurdles faced by developers and game studios in the web3 gaming space?
Developers often face the challenge of making web3 gaming too complex, leading to user drop-offs. The integration of tokenomics, DAOs, and NFTs can be overwhelming for players. Simplicity in game design and player incentives is crucial for success.
What sets Zebedee's approach apart from other web3 gaming platforms?
Zebedee focuses on casual games with low friction onboarding, making it easy for players to start earning Bitcoin without the need for complex setups. It offers a unique play experience, where players can win Bitcoin while having fun in games like Sudoku or Tic-Tac-Toe.
What is the future of web3 gaming according to Zebedee's perspective?
Zebedee's perspective on the future of web3 gaming is optimistic but realistic. They believe that full-scale adoption of web3 and tokenized game economies will take time, possibly a decade or more. The focus should be on what technology can truly achieve today, such as microtransactions and simple value propositions, while avoiding overcomplication.
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News Article Description
In this insightful article, gamers should take note of ZBD's groundbreaking role in web3 gaming, where players can earn Bitcoin rewards while enjoying their favorite games. An interview with Ben Cousens, ZBD's Chief Strategy Officer, unveils key trends shaping the future of gaming, emphasizing simplicity and player incentives. ZBD's unique approach to sustainability in the gaming industry stands out, offering a win-win situation for both developers and players. The article explores the challenges and opportunities in web3 gaming and provides a realistic perspective on its future. Gamers, developers, and enthusiasts will gain valuable insights into the evolving world of blockchain gaming and the importance of maintaining a user-friendly experience. Dive into this article to discover the transformative potential of ZBD and the trends that are reshaping the gaming landscape.
Blockchain Gaming, Web3 Trends, Bitcoin Rewards, ZBD (Zebedee), Ben Cousens, Gaming Industry, Sustainability in Gaming