I'll be honest: When I had the pitch for "the first blockchain-based video game console", I assumed it had to be some kind of gadget.
But Jimmy Chen, co-founder and CEO of Blok.Party, said the Ethereum blockchain is "an essential part of that experience," allowing his team to create "that seamless bridge between the digital and physical worlds. . "
Today, Blok.Party unveils its PlayTable console, which combines table and console game elements.
This is not the first time that someone is trying to incorporate real-world objects into video games – for example, there has been Disney Infinity, which has closed its doors few years ago. But using blockchain technology, Chen said that he can avoid many of the pitfalls that have stumbled previous efforts.
First, instead of making new toys and parts for each game, PlayTable uses RFID tags, which can be attached to existing objects. Players can therefore use tags to incorporate their own toys and cards into games.
"We have been trying to make smart toys for a very, very long time, but all we do is insert resistors and transistors, which makes them more and more inaccessible. ", said Chen. Blok.Party, on the other hand, "creates an inexpensive data set, which can easily be attached to the physical object".
He demonstrated PlayTable for me using Battlegrid, a fantastic card-based duel game developed by Blok.Party, which Chen described as "if Magic the Gathering, Hearthstone and Skylanders had a baby." I will not claim that I followed the ins and outs of the battle, but I saw that Chen could place different cards and coins and that the table would recognize them and put the linked characters into play.
"The nucleus of it, the physical manifestation of it that exists only in one space, turned out to be quite difficult [in the past]," added Chen. "By creating this backend infrastructure, we can make the system much more efficient.The element that blockchain really allows is this idea of having to have an open and really unique dataset on which people can contribute and on which they can build. "
Chen said Blok.Party was working with third-party developers to create about 25 different titles, some based on classic games like poker and mah jong.
The PlayTable is currently available for pre-order at a discounted price of $ 349. (The company says the regular price will be $ 599.) The plan is to ship the console in the fourth quarter of this year.