We are facing a shift where digital money such as cryptocurrencies and virtual economies merge. Digital values can soon flow freely across borders and games, and it’s the young generation that leads the change.
Growing up on the Internet
My 7-year-old son understands the word Bitcoin and knows what it is. He will grow up with video platforms such as Youtube where five billion clips are watched every day, and he will play online games along with hundreds of millions of other people worldwide.
These influencing arenas have changed the paradigm of learning to such an extent that even the millennium generation, of which I myself am a part of, falls off. This is despite the fact that we ourselves have felt the effect of growing up with the Internet. Ask a child which e-sport players he knows of and he will probably come up with more names than we could with football players.
Virtual economies and game currency
Unless you have been living in a cave for the last couple of years, you have probably heard of a game with the name Fortnite. Fortnite is a “free-to-play” game developed by Epic Games, which has successfully attracted over 200 million players (and still growing). A large proportion of these players are under 16 years of age. Credit cards all around the world, owned by ignorant parents, are used to buy game currency called V-Bucks, short for Vindertech Bucks or Vinderbucks. This game currency can be obtained by completing missions, but you can accelerate the accumulation by buying the digital curreny with US Dollars or “fiat” money.
The price of V-Bucks ranges from $ 9.99 for 1000 V-Bucks, to $ 99.99 for 10,000 (+3500 bonus) V-Bucks.
After V-Bucks is acquired, they can be used to make purchases in the game. One can, for example, buy visual enhancements, so-called “skins” for game avatars one has or tickets to participate in various game sets.
There are many different types of virtual economies, with different game currencies running online games and virtual worlds with millions of users.
Fortnite is not alone and another example is the popular basketball game on for the consoles called NBAK18. In this game, there is a virtual currency called “VC.” NBA2K18 has sold over 10 million copies worldwide. While not a free-to-play game like Fortnite, people buy that currency to access content and customize items. One can obtain VC by playing, but as described above one can accelerate the process by buying the digital currency with US dollars.
The price ranges from $ 1.99 for 5000 VC to $ 99.99 for 450,000 VC (pay for 250,000 get 200,000 free).
When big trends coincide
As cryptocurrency becomes more widespread in parallel with the growth of virtual economies, these two worlds will merge into one. A tectonic shift will occur with a new generation of young people who will begin to transfer and exchange digital values among themselves, freely across borders, games and gaming platforms.
The regulation is lagging behind
This may trigger some alarm clocks for tax and regulation purposes. It should, and hopefully, it will make us think through existing rules and frameworks that have been resting on the ground for years.
The time it takes for the authorities to respond and design the framework is too long, and the authorities cannot keep up with the rapid pace of development. How we should deal with young people gambling and using digital money will be a hot topic for regulation in the future.
A new everyday life is imminent
Shared loans, cash flow, and remote work for a number of employers, all of the phenomena that will become commonplace are likely to be common to a number of young people over the next decade.
When children start trading Bitcoin and other adjoining forms of digital values among themselves, for entertainment or not, more of us should follow. We should think through the effect this can have and discuss it without coming with conclusions based on a lack of understanding. A lot of time is spent keeping pandora’s eyes closed for cryptocurrency and regulation.
When virtual worlds collide with this new and emerging technology, more intertwined and accessible markets can be created for people of all ages. The young people are now growing up with what is coming, while the rest of us are trying to keep up.
Game currencies are just one of many examples of how we are starting to adopt digital currencies. The key is to follow the other trends that unfold at the same time, the big picture and how we want to regulate it. The cryptocurrency industry is in a desperate search for solutions that will lead to mainstream use, while many of the solutions are already growing right under our noses.