Problems of NFT games with blockchain elements Skip to content
Problems of NFT games: bans, server shutdowns and bots Cover

Problems of NFT games: bans, server shutdowns and bots

Games with the Play-to-Earn model have become one of the trends in the blockchain industry. Their users are rewarded with NFTs and cryptocurrencies for their actions on the platform. Players think that these games are decentralized because they are connected to the blockchain, but in fact, almost all the information is stored on regular servers. 

Due to the centralization and control of NFT game developers, users of NFT games face a number of problems. These include the lack of rights to accounts and their blocking, as well as shutdown of servers. We tell in the material why such difficulties arise and offer a solution to the problem of bots from the Foil Network.

Features of games with blockchain elements

Blockchain games are seen by users as decentralized platforms. But most often, developers use the blockchain only to conduct transactions with NFTs and regular tokens. And all game data is stored centrally on separate servers. 

In theory, in blockchain games, all processes must be decentralized and located on the blockchain. For example, data on all user interactions, player profiles, textures, 3D models of characters and objects should be stored there. Then developers will be able to manage games only using smart contracts, which will make all processes transparent.

In most modern blockchains, this way of storing data will be too expensive or technically impossible. For example, the gas fee on the Ethereum blockchain for downloading a file of several kilobytes will be several thousand dollars. And for a megabyte you will have to pay almost $1 million.

Comparison of games with elements on the blockchain and true blockchain games
Storing information and transferring data in games with elements on the blockchain and in “true” blockchain games

Due to the storage of all in-game information on servers, users face problems typical of centralized games. Storing data on the blockchain could solve some problems due to the transparency of smart contracts. Below we tell you more about these problems.

Players have no rights to their in-game accounts. Most users, when creating a profile, believe that they can dispose of it as they please. But all accounts are not the property of the players, but only an identifier with which a person gains access to the server. And all ownership rights to profiles belong to the developers.

This doesn’t mean that developers can get hold of your NFTs, as they are located on the blockchain. But the administration of the game can block the user’s access to the account from which the NFTs are being withdrawn at any time. For example, for violating the game’s terms of use. Then NFTs can no longer be withdrawn from the player’s account. The server will block any transactions between the account and the crypto wallet, even if it has not been linked to a game profile.

Shutting down game servers. Sometimes developers may temporarily take their servers offline due to technical issues or to work on fixing bugs. During this time, users cannot access their accounts. And if at this moment the player wants to withdraw NFT from the game to a crypto wallet, then the server will not be able to confirm this transaction. This happens due to the disabling of the interface, which should interact with the game’s smart contract, to which the crypto assets are attached.

Lack of game mechanics transparency. Users do not see the real actions of the developers and can only guess how the game balance is set up. So the administration can hide the real probability of in-game items falling out. For example, users believe in the overestimated chances that the developers have written to them and are more willing to take risks to open NFT packs. Players cannot check this probability, so they trust the administration’s words and spend more money on these packs.

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Bots “attack” NFT games

Developers of NFT projects also face centralization issues. For example, many NFT games are filled with bots. They prevent players from earning tokens and have a negative impact on the exchange rate of these tokens. 

Bot creators receive a constant increased profit. For example, one such program can register 1000-2000 gaming profiles. All of them will be considered a multi-account, because they belong to the same person, and this is prohibited in most games. But not all developers are able to track and block such programs on their platforms.

Bots do not need to take breaks for sleep and food, or be distracted by work and personal life. Because of this, multi-accounts will constantly mine NFTs and bring profit to their creator. And the number of tokens that real users receive will decrease. This happens because the game’s smart contract creates a fixed amount of NFTs and distributes them among all the game accounts. Because of the bots, the number of accounts is increasing, but the number of tokens is not.

New users come to the game, see the low rate of earning tokens in the game and quickly leave the project. And bots will consistently make a profit, even if each account produces a minimum of NFTs.

One of the games affected by bots is Alien Worlds. Its developers began to look for ways to prevent the work of bots:

  • The developers have temporarily suspended NFT drops until they figure out how to prevent bots. These actions caused dissatisfaction among ordinary players, because they purchased special upgrades to get these drops. And now these purchases have become useless.
  • The developers have introduced captcha for token mining into the game. These are simple pop-up tests that help weed out bots from real users. Players were unhappy with the fact that it had to be completed every time they searched for an NFT. At the same time, the bots “learned” to bypass the captcha. And ordinary players had to go through it regularly. Judging by the messages on the forum, someone had to enter captcha only a couple of times a day, and someone — every 6 minutes.
  • The developers banned all suspicious profiles before the proceedings. These included accounts that were in the game for too many hours a day, according to the developers — about 12 hours. At the same time, there is no time limit clause in the rules on the game website. 

If a player has received a ban, then Alien Worlds does not notify about this in any way. You can guess about the blocking only by the pop-up window with an error or the minimum number of tokens received. Not only bots, but also a large number of real players fell under the ban.  

screenshots of ban notifications in alien worlds
Notifications by which players can guess about the account ban

Due to the large number of complaints, the administration has opened a separate form for proceedings with support. Users had to prove in correspondence with support that they did not use third-party programs. Many had to wait for a response from the developers for days, and someone did not receive it at all, which meant that the blocking was not subject to appeal.

All the actions of the Alien Worlds developers only led to a temporary decrease in the number of bots in the game. At the same time, the new restrictions caused even more discomfort for ordinary players and only increased their dissatisfaction.

The WAX blockchain has also experienced problems due to the fact that Alien Worlds uses it. A large number of bots overloads the blockchain network and also negatively affects the cryptocurrency exchange rate. Therefore, the WAX developers have also taken action against multi-accounts. To do this, they introduced a fee for registering new users in the amount of 5 WAXP, which was approximately $1.5 at the time of the introduction of the fee.

After updating the blockchain network, the bots stopped working and registering multi-accounts. Before Alien Worlds’ massive account bans, users received a small amount of tokens per action — an average of 0.03-007 TLM. And after the update, the token mining increased to 1.1-0.5 TLM at a time.

The number of tokens mined in Alien Worlds Screenshot
The player’s earnings for sending a spaceship to the planet to mine tokens. Before the mass blocking of bots, the user received no more than 0.1 TLM per mission

Although blockchain developers have introduced a mandatory registration fee, this does not mean that the bot problem has been solved. If the profit from multi-accounts exceeds the cost of registration fees, then new bot programs will appear soon.

Verification as a way to solve the bot problem

One of the solutions to the problem of multi-accounts can be user verification. Each player will need to verify their identity using documents, in accordance with the KYC and AML policy.

NFT earnings with and without mandatory verification
n NFT games without account verification, users create bots, due to which the server is overflowing with multi-accounts. And on platforms with verification, players are required to verify the identity of each account

For example, you can create smart contracts for blockchain games on the Foil Network platform. And in order to use them, you need to pass the mandatory on-chain verification. It does not in any way force players to give up anonymity on the network and stop using nicknames. All personal data will only be accessible to an independent verification center.

It is almost impossible for one user to verify the identity of 1-2 thousand accounts to run bots. This would require obtaining and using personal data of thousands of real people, which is a violation of the law.

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Most NFT games use the blockchain technology only to make transactions with tokens and store information about them. And all other processes are located on servers that belong to the developers. Because of this, users face the following problems:

  • No rights to their in-game accounts,
  • Shutting down project servers,
  • Lack of game mechanics transparency.

Game developers also face problems, one of which is bots. The smart contract automatically distributes NFTs among all players, but multi-accounts mine the majority of these tokens. The solution to this problem can be the introduction of verification for players. For example, Foil Network offers to pass on-chain verification in games and confirm your identity.

Dmitry Yegorov

Cover and illustrations:
Julia Chistyakova

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