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Dr Who meets Blockchain: the stuff of science fact

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Few things get us tech-heads more excited that Dr Who or the Blockchain… put them together and heads start to explode. But that is just what BBC Studios and Reality Gaming Group have done in creating a new Dr Who trading card game.

Not only is it an exciting Dr Who development and an interesting new spin on trading card games – extending them to the virtual world – it also has the potential to totally change the gaming industry.

First, the game. Dr Who Worlds Apart offers fans the chance to buy virtual collectable cards and use them to play a game. The cards, which come in packs priced according to the rarity of the randomly selected cards likely to be found therein, each feature hand drawn, bespoke artwork that tells the story of Dr Who from its beginnings in 1967 right through to the latest series. There are Daleks, Cybermen, The Tardis, a bevy of glamourous assistants (and Mickey) and, we hope, K-9. The fully digital cards are 3D and feature a range of information used to play the actual game with.

They are also collectable – something that Dr Who fans are really into – and, more crucially, they are tradeable.

LEARN MORE IN OUR EXCLUSIVE SESSION WITH BBC STUDIOS & REALITY GAMING
HERE ON TELEMEDIA8.1

What? Tradeable digital assets?

This is where things get interesting. Because each card is registered on the blockchain, the cards can be traded, sold, swapped. They have value. And this is the kicker. Blockchain-backed digital gaming assets turns the world of gaming on its head.

Tony Pearce, co-founder of Reality Gaming picks up the story: “Blockchain gaming is the most exciting platform I have come across since I went into gaming. The issue around games is players spend billions of dollars on game items, but they have no ownership rights or control. For example, in Fortnight you spend $100 on a hat for you character, you own nothing. You can’t take it anywhere, you can’t sell it, you can only use it in that one game. If that game goes, so does your money.”

Pearce likens this to going to a shop to buy a shirt: it the retailer goes bust, your shirt disappears.

What blockchain and tokenisation does is takes each item bought – in this case each card in the pack – and wraps it in a smart contract that is connected to the blockchain. So, when you buy the in-game item you actually own it.

“It is connected to you and logged on the blockchain, proving you are the owner,” says Pearce. “You can then use it in any game that uses reality clashes APIs and rules, or you can take it out of the game and sell it.”

“This,” says Pearce, “is a massive game-changer, if you pardon the pun, as the user now owns the items they buy in games.”

Translating this to Dr Who and BBC Studios, Pearce has created a game changing game that gives fans so much more than just a game. “When we approached the BBC we didn’t want to just create a card game, we wanted to show them the whole blockchain approach,” he says. “We wanted it to be something much more interesting. These cards are one-offs with some really rare ones and so the user has the opportunity to own the card forever, to own part of the game, to own part of Dr Who lore.”

John Kavanagh, Licensing Manager games & digital entertainment, BBC Studios, agrees. “To us it has always been part of the brand strategy to engage fans of things like Dr Who across platforms. We want to be where the fans are.”

Kavanagh continues: “The BBC has always been at the forefront of using technology – we have had Dr Who on mobile, we have Dr Who in VR. Even its theme tune exploited new tech back in the 1960s. And we have long believed that content that is purchased is owned. That is why we are interested in this blockchain approach.”

He adds: “So, we have created a trading card game: this are something that fan buys and owns. You may want to collect the cards or play them, but we wanted to make it as useful and interactive as possible.”

Building on blockchain: getting carriers involved

This is an exciting development for the BBC, believes Kavanagh. “We want to be at the forefront of technology, but useful technology that is interactive. And this has tangible value to the owners. The ability to buy, sell or retain and have a fun game is really great,” he says.

“You can also see many other applications around the use of the blockchain data. It helps rankings and then other applications can use them through partnerships with the BBC. It is everything you get in a trading card game but with all the added things you can do in the digital world.”

MNOs and carriers can get involved too, believes Pearce. “You can buy these cards using all the payment tools out there. You could well buy cards and packs with carrier billing. It would be good to work with a carrier to offer exclusive cards and things if you are a customer of a particular carrier or on a particular handset.”

This is only a two-year old market estimated to be $100bn a year. Nike, NBA, Paramount are all getting involved in tokenising their assets on the blockchain to use them as collectables. Watch this space.

LEARN MORE IN OUR EXCLUSIVE SESSION WITH BBC STUDIOS & REALITY GAMING
HERE ON TELEMEDIA8.1

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