How casual gaming could be a ‘huge’ Bitcoin on-ramp

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You can now play Solitaire, Snake and even Counter-Strike to earn Satoshis, tiny fractions of Bitcoin (BTC). Cointelegraph spoke with executives at Thndr Games, a play-to-win (P2E) company built around Bitcoin and Zebedee, a gaming platform that will “Transform gaming with the power of Bitcoin.”

Thanks to the Lightning Network (LN), a layer 2 payment solution built on Bitcoin, instant microtransactions from Sats can quickly pay players around the world. “This really addresses a need in gaming,” Ben Cousens, chief strategy officer at Zebedee, told Cointelegraph.

Zebedee offers Bitcoin and LN support for popular games such as Counter-Strike: Go. They promote casual gaming and the creation of inviting environments that could “Bring people into Bitcoin in a way that surprises them,” Cousens explained.

For THNDR, which released a Solitaire-style mobile game on Monday, the launch of popular, casual game types is also about getting people on board with Bitcoin. They are actively targeting players in emerging markets as well as female audiences.

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Seems familiar? CS:Go in-game footage. Source: Zebedee

Desiree Dickerson, CEO and co-founder of Thndr Games, shared some statistics with Cointelegraph during a call: “Sixty percent of all women worldwide play games, and 60% of these women play mobile games every day.”

On top of that, the gaming industry is bigger than the movie industry: About “2.6 billion people worldwide play games,” and within that segment, mobile gaming is the most popular. “It makes up 60% of the entire gaming market, and it’s only going up,” Dickerson explained.

The release of Club Bitcoin: Solitaire specifically taps into the growing female audience:

“The mission is to get people on board with Bitcoin, but we’re never going to make a game that’s not a good game. We don’t just want to target Bitcoiners non-stop. It’s about making a great game that has Bitcoin in it.”

About 60% of Thndr Game users are located in the global south, a popular touchpoint for Bitcoiner companies. Emerging markets suffer from unstable regimes, volatile currencies and weaker socio-economic development.

In this environment, Bitcoin the asset can provide an economic lifeline to many and thanks to near-instant payment channels and Bitcoin-centric games, Bitcoin the protocol now offers a means of escape as well as small economic rewards. At Zebedee, for example, the average transaction size is tiny, just $0.02.

Cousens told Cointelegraph, “Gaming and Bitcoin and Light is a huge ramp for Bitcoin [adoption],” sharing that Brazil is a major territory of their user base, followed by the Philippines – both countries with emerging, thriving crypto adoption.

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Club Bitcoin: Solitaire. Source: apps.apple.com

Furthermore, both Dickerson and Cousens illustrated that gaming is a way to get people into Bitcoin without “ideology.” The Bitcoin and crypto spaces are full of infighting, dunking and tell-it-yourself, while gaming – especially idle gaming – is a relaxed environment in which users can start stacking sats.

Related: Bandai Namco, SEGA among gaming giants eyeing blockchain gaming

Thndr has successfully sent over 1.5 million rewards over the LN and gained a growing audience of devoted fans. All of its games on the Apple App Store have a 4.5 star or higher rating. “We think almost first and foremost about the pure joy of play,” Dickerson explained.

For Cousens, who is well aware of the risk of “Hyperfunding” of gaming products, he explains that it is difficult to underestimate the role that casual gaming could play in the adoption of Bitcoin. “A bad casual mobile game has about 10 million downloads […] You get a game or two, you little El Salvador.”

El Salvador could onboard a total population of 6.4 million people to earn, save and spend Bitcoin, thanks to the Bitcoin Law. Solitaire, by comparison, has 35 million monthly users, according to to Microsoft. And that’s just one game.