Money makes the world go round–not just in real-life, but in gaming universes as well. Gaming currencies can often go completely unnoticed, or they are simply something that players take for granted.
It isn’t often central to the main storyline, but gaming money often sets the rules for what you can and can’t do within the adventure. Much like legal tender does in reality, in fact. These virtual methods of payment have had an influence on e-currencies like Bitcoin, which has become a more prevalent method for making internet purchases in recent years.
Looking back at Sonic the Hedgehog, there is meaning to collecting the ubiquitous rings. They serve to preserve your life when you are attacked by enemies, and if you find 100 rings, you gain an extra life. That is gaming money in its most basic form, but it set a precedent: currencies need to be included to create stakes in a game.
Fictional currencies are also a great way to create a desired value for items within the game. Using a well-known currency like the dollar would mean that games would have to price things realistically to that currency’s particular value. Pokémon games use the Pokédollar (see video above), for example, and throughout the game, players can earn more of these through defeating enemies in Pokémon battles. They could then use these Pokédollars to buy items at the Pokémart.
Fast forward to the present day and gaming currencies are more important than ever. In vast open-world fantasy games like Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, there are hundreds of things that can be bought and sold. But, because it is set in a fictional realm it can’t draw on a true currency. The main character, Geralt of Rivia, uses Crowns to make purchases. It is so realistic that there are smaller denominations that have gone out of circulation–Orens and Florens–which can be changed in banks (see video below) for the game’s up-to-date currency.
Now online gamers can opt to play sites on which they can use a virtual currency. Bitcoin casinos are taking the world by storm and offering players an online gaming experience that uses a singular, unique e-currency. Players can enjoy an amazing slot experience with games like Journey to the West, Grim Muerto, and Hot Safari, all of which are designed to be played solely with the cryptocurrency. Because slots like this are so exclusive, slots fans are beginning to switch to playing on sites using Bitcoin so that they can access the games. This could eventually lead to all online casinos switching to the virtual currency in years to come.
Many modern games now allow players to make in-game purchases. For instance, FIFA gives players the chance to buy trading cards using FIFA points that can be bought with cash. Many other games use methods like this to entice players into buying upgrades to their character or new weapons and vehicles.
For the kinds of games that charge for things using money from the real-world, Bitcoin could be primed to step in and become the number one virtual currency for gaming. And it all grew from that little blue hedgehog collecting rings.