A Gamer’s Guide to the MetaMask Browser Extension

metamask guide
You’ll need Metamask to play a number of crypto games.

Gold pieces, item shop tokens, Bitcoin and Ethereum – what do all these have in common?

They are all digital assets. Gamers are not new to the idea of digital currencies and how valuable they can be for purchasing perks, cosmetic upgrades or access to new content within virtual worlds.

In some cases, this can even extend between titles – with secondary black markets allowing you to buy or sell in-game gold and rare items for real cash.

Cryptocurrencies and token ownership follow on from this idea of digital transfer of value, allowing transparent transactions that are fast and cost-effective when network traffic permits.

Game developers are all-too-aware of the benefits that blockchain integration can bring for their business and playerbase, birthing a recent growth in titles with blockchain functionality or with cryptocurrencies at the core.

This is usually in aid of building new and improved processes into titles for exchanging value, proving ownership of digital assets and allowing users to participate in value-driven activities.

For this evolution in gaming, a new toolset is required of the users. One that allows you to store and exchange value to participate in crypto/token ecosystems within games and dApps. For this, we can use MetaMask.

In order to play games like Gods Unchained or Etheremon, you’ll need to know how to use it, so let’s dive in.

What is MetaMask?

MetaMask is a browser extension that allows you to create a unique and secure digital identity/wallet for transacting with Ether and ERC-20 tokens on the Ethereum network.

It essentially acts as a bridge between your browser and Ethereum-based dApps (decentralized applications) – allowing you to participate in the emerging Web 3.0, made up of hundreds of existing dApps that are already disrupting the gaming industry.

Think of it just like a real-world wallet. You may have several currencies at any time (represented here as either Ether or ERC-20 tokens), and there’s nothing stopping you from having extra wallets for different purposes.

With MetaMask, a user can create a new Ethereum wallet – or import a private key from an existing one – in order to communicate with dApps and send or receive payments on the Ethereum network.

In other words, MetaMask is a browser extension that allows you to store digital currencies via an Ethereum wallet, manage multiple identities across different sites or applications, and send or receive payments on the Ethereum blockchain.

How Does Metamask Work?

Ethereum itself is a decentralized platform that runs smart contracts. It allows developers to build experiences that facilitate the exchange or creation of value and does not experience downtime, or require a middleman.

Ether is the main currency for exchanging value within the Ethereum network, but developers can issue their own ERC-20 tokens that perform some utility within their platforms.

MetaMask makes the participation in the Ethereum ecosystem simple and secure by allowing users to create and control an Ethereum wallet, send and receive Ether or any proprietary developer-issued ERC-20 token, right from within the browser.

Adding a wallet interface for users to sign smart contracts and store private/public keys, as well as enabling communication between the wallet and Ethereum-based dApps – MetaMask serves to make the process of storing/spending crypto and interacting with such apps a user-friendly experience.

How Do You Install MetaMask?

Since MetaMask is a browser extension, it exists directly on your web browser, just like any other tool you use to help you out on the net such as AdBlock or Evernote.

The first step is to make sure you are running a compatible internet browser. Currently, those are Chrome, Firefox, Opera or the Brave Browser.

It is important to note at this stage that there are a number of phishing sites set up around fake downloads, so be sure that you are using the official MetaMask website and verify that you can see ‘https://’ in the URL before going any further.

Once installed and a new MetaMask account is registered, a new wallet address will automatically be issued for use.

The user can then chose to either load this wallet with funds by sending Ether or tokens from an exchange/existing wallet, or continue using their own Ethereum wallet by selecting the ‘import’ option and either entering their private key or by uploading their wallet JSON/Keystore file.

With wallet access from the MetaMask icon in the toolbar of the browser, a user will be able to send any preloaded funds and interact with Ethereum based web apps on the fly.

Instead of hunting for their credit card or logging into a third-party program or service to pay for goods, the user can now very quickly authenticate and make payment (or receive funds/goods – more on that in a moment.)

Is Metamask safe to Use?

When a user initially signs up, they will be prompted to create a password and to write down their own 12-word seed phrase, which should be kept in a safe place in case the account ever needs to be recovered.

MetaMask encourages users to store it offline by printing it out or noting it down on paper, further protecting from online hackers. They make it very clear that if you lose this and your password – you’re not coming in.

If you have downloaded the official release, the process is as safe as regular online banking.

Clearly, if your device has been compromised or your passwords, seed phrase or private keys have been leaked then there is an issue but otherwise – MetaMask is as safe as the environment you use it in.

The extension locks itself when not in use, but is obviously unlocked whilst you are using it.

This could make you vulnerable to malware that may be able to view your inputs or assume control of your device, but due diligence in terms of antivirus and your own security should prevent this.

Why is it Used for Crypto Gaming?

Among all the benefits that blockchain technologies have to offer, there are a few that are innovating the way we play and think about online games.

Tokenization of digital assets and Ethereum smart contracts are two of the largest opportunities for developers and players of online games.

While this has been explored a lot over the past year or two, we are likely only still scratching the surface.

CryptoKitties – the same popular game that slowed the Ethereum network to a halt late last year – utilizes smart contracts to ‘codify’ the process of breeding virtual collectable cats.

The breeding contract essentially generates a new, unique cat as an ERC-20 token that would be stored within an ethereum wallet.

This could then be kept safe with immutable proof of ownership to the wallet holder, or resold at the owner’s discretion by transferring the whole token to another wallet.

Tokenization of digital assets is another interesting one, as it allows gamers to legitimize the process of extracting value from their gameplay.

Rather than going through a third party black market to sell their items – hurting the publisher and community alike – a player can move their assets around as required in a trustless and transparent way.

Decentraland takes a fairly unique approach to cryptocurrency integration.

Through a combination of smart contracts and their proprietary LAND token, players can purchase and operate a business within their own plot of virtual real estate.

Ownership of that land – the equivalent to real life title deeds – is essentially the token sitting in an ethereum wallet.

This entitles the owner of that token to revenues generated from business activity there, for example, the proceeds of a virtual casino or karaoke bar.

Whatever the use case for crypto in online gaming – and there are new projects coming to light each week – wherever your browser goes, your MetaMask wallet goes.

Whenever you encounter an dApp or online game using the ethereum network, you’ll be able to use MetaMask in your gameplay for generating or extracting value, purchasing upgrades and bartering with the community.

Metamask ERC20 Token Storage

Since Metamask is a front-end Ethereum wallet, it can be used to assign ERC-20 tokens that you win or buy within games. For example, your Gods Unchained cards can be found when you check your wallet address within a dapp that can read what’s there.

Airdrops and other founders coins and collectibles will be stored on this Ethereum address, which can then be used at any time through Metamask if you need a quick connection.

When you log in to Gods Unchained, it will read your connected wallet, determine which cards are assigned to you, and allow you to play the game.

Is Metamask Available for IOS or Android?

At this time, there are plans to have a mobile version that was announced by  CEO of ConsenSys Joseph Lubin:

It seems possible that you could use Metamask in your Firefox browser on a mobile device, but just be careful and NEVER download an app that might be posing as the real thing or you risk being hacked.

Browser that are currently supported include Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Brave. It does not seem to support Safari.

There is something called Cipher Browser, which is an app, however we cannot verify that this is safe or worth it.

MetaMask vs Myetherwallet

So now we have an idea of what MetaMask is, how it works and how you can use it – let’s compare it to one of the other top wallets in the space.

Myetherwallet is described as “a free, open-source, client-side interface.”

myetherwallet

Essentially, the web-based wallet UI enables you to create a wallet address and take control all of your interactions within the blockchain.

Access, monitoring and the ability to make transactions are controlled by the user’s computer only.

Myetherwallet just provides the framework for an individual to carry out these tasks.

They do not store or use your private keys or account information, nor do they provide any other services other than hosting the interface.

The idea behind MyEtherWallet is to provide a user with the functionality to operate within the Ethereum ecosystem on their own terms.

This allows people to benefit from the core concept behind blockchain and cryptocurrencies – the ability to manage funds yourself, without the need for a third-party or bank to have control over your finances or operate as a middleman.

This is a useful option for someone who wants to store or spend cryptocurrencies and avoid using a centralized exchange such as Coinbase where private keys could be leaked or the centralized provider may become compromised disappear overnight.

It can be beneficial to manage your funds this way as you can avoid admin fees, restricted services and other issues that may crop up when using a third-party provider.

Myetherwallet and MetaMask are similar services – but each works a little differently to provide a user with specific benefits.

They can also be used together as complementary services that make blockchain participation a little easier.

The key difference between Myetherwallet and MetaMask is that one serves as a user interface to move and manage crypto assets, while the other allows you to utilize those assets within dApps, web stores and games with crypto functionality.

MetaMask provides:

  • Convenience of use within dApps and the emerging the Web 3.0 and quick integration with any ethereum or crypto-driven applications.
  • Security while browsing the internet, warning of any sites that have been identified and blacklisted as phishing scams fake investment opportunities or copycat dApps/games.

Myetherwallet delivers:

  • Efficient tools to create an Ethereum wallet right within your browser in order to store, spend and save Ether and ERC-20 tokens.
  • Supporting the blockchain culture of freedom in the management and control over individual finances – MEW generated wallets can be utilized by any wallet software or hardware wallet like the Ledger Nano S.

Ultimately, the two don’t really compete with each other but rather they provide a symbiotic ecosystem for a user who seeks to tap into the budding online economy and share in the innovative, next-generation apps, services and products that blockchain technologies have spawned.

Metamask can also be used to claim Hex.