ZBD, a New Jersey-based gaming technology company built on the Lightning Network, has announced a partnership with indie gaming studio 1047 Games to enable bitcoin payments for players of Splitgate, a free-to-play competitive first-person shooter (FPS). The two companies will activate a PC-based tournament, “The ZBD x Splitgate Winter Invitational,” for players beginning December 10. The winning team will receive a payout of 0.5 BTC (approx $18,000 dollars) instantly sent to the ZBD wallets of the winners.
1047’s Splitgate takes sci-fi elements, fast-paced gunplay and vertical mobility via portals to create a dynamic mutli-player environment balanced around movement, positioning and mechanics. The game originally launched in May 2019 and was touted as a competitor to games like Call of Duty and Fortnite. To date, it has received 18 million downloads, but has seen momentum slow down since 1047 ceased development on the title in September 2022, reportedly in favor of focusing on a new game from the studio.
Despite the slowdown, it appears 1047 is still exploring new ways of engaging its player base by using bitcoin Lightning payments to instantaneously settle its tournament payouts. While not a novel application necessarily, as ZBD itself has enabled bitcoin payments across 100+ games prior, this is a notable milestone for the gaming industry as it has generally been lost in the morass of Web3 vaporware. To see a thoughtfully-designed and truly competitive game integrate Bitcoin is indeed refreshing.
1047 CEO Ian Proulx expressed excitement for the partnership in a press release sent to Bitcoin Magazine: “We’re always excited to hear innovative solutions to reward our players, such as what ZBD has done, and the tournament that they plan to hold later this month.”
For a competitive FPS game in particular to find success with Bitcoin may lead other gaming studios of the popular genre to explore similar bitcoin-based incentives for player retention and in-game performance. Additionally, gamers are digitally-native and arguably primed to be Bitcoin-curious given that proclivity for the amount of time they spend online.
While Lightning payments are by no means widespread in the gaming industry, this foray by ZBD into a more competitive FPS arena could be a signpost that gaming studios are beginning to take a deeper look at integrating internet-native money into their player experience stack.
For anyone out there who likes clicking their opponents’ heads and wants a shot at some cold hard bitcoin, you can join the ZBD Splitgate tournament by registering on ZBD’s website.