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    ZBD’s Ben Cousens on the growing impact of Bitcoin in gaming

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    As the year draws to an end, we’re asking some of the key members of the blockchain gaming sector what they thought about what happened in 2023, and what they expect in 2024. You can check out all our interviews in this series here.

    Ben Cousens is the chief strategy officer of Bitcoin gaming payment network ZBD.

    What was the most significant news of 2023?

    It’s been an eventful year. We had Unreal Editor for Fortnite (UEFN) from Epic at GDC at the beginning of 2023 demonstrate a concrete move into UGC from one of the biggest IPs in gaming.

    Unity’s meltdown was another milestone event with significant repercussions for game developers.

    Equally, in blockchain, regulation is the primary topic and, while the latest drama around Binance is significant, the biggest news (the elusive Bitcoin ETF) is still yet to come.

    How did the focus of your business change this year?

    Like most businesses we spent time adapting to a world without cheap capital, to build on a stronger base, and to plan for long-term sustainability – we’re all incredibly happy internally with what we’ve achieved on this front in just 12 short months.

    What do you predict will be the most important trends in 2024?

    Web3 gaming’s growing interest in Bitcoin’s Ordinals is a very notable emerging trend that I am paying increasing attention to, as is the imminent arrival of stablecoins (USDT, USDC) on the Lightning Network. I expect both of these developments to drive more interest in the Bitcoin protocol, which has been erroneously maligned as “slow and old” but is actually growing at an accelerating pace, having gained smart contracting, tokenization and NFT capabilities this year.

    What was your favourite blockchain game of the year?

    It’s not a blockchain game per se, but we’ve just announced the integration of our payments tech into the renowned shooter Splitgate ahead of a major tournament. Gamers will receive instant payouts from the pot of 0.5 BTC/$18,000 – which is one of the key ways in which blockchain technology – in this case ZBD’s tech built on Bitcoin Lightning – can enhance existing gaming experiences. Currently, tournament winnings can regularly take weeks if not months to be paid out to gamers.

    I was already a fan of Splitgate, but internal playtests have let me spend a good amount of hours playing the game recently, and earning a few sats while playing has definitely added an extra edge.

    What’s your New Year’s resolution and what resolution would you enforce on the industry?

    My New Year’s resolution is to keep embracing learning of what I don’t know and to have more conviction in what I do know.

    In the blockchain industry, I would like to enforce more logical thinking, so folks are better able to speak plainly, and differentiate between money, securities and collectibles – it’s really not that complicated!

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