As crypto continues to rise in popularity, play-to-earn (P2E) gaming, as the NFT gaming phenomenon has been dubbed, is also taking the world by storm. DappRadar and Blockchain Gaming Alliance reported that gaming made up over half of blockchain activity in August 2022, with hundreds of millions in transactions processed — indicating that, despite the market slump, top blockchain games continue to see active participation.
- NFT games utilise NFTs as a key element of the game environment, which in the context of certain reward models may be described as a ‘play-to-earn’ (P2E) structure (to use the crypto vernacular) on top of gameplay.
- The games allow players to acquire native tokens or collect NFTs through participation, usually granting users full ownership and control of these digital assets that they are free to hold, buy, or trade.
- Axie Infinity, Gods Unchained, DeFi Kingdoms, and The Sandbox are some P2E NFT games out in the wild in 2022.
What Is a Blockchain or NFT Game?
Blockchain gaming combines blockchain technology, cryptocurrencies, and game mechanics to create a virtual gaming world. These games often utilise NFTs in the game environment — incorporated within the rules of the game, amongst player interactions, or as a reward system — ranging from the player’s avatar to weapons, equipment, skin, or land.
The in-game reward model, dubbed ‘play-to-earn’ (P2E), allows players to be rewarded with tokens or NFTs (which could be traded within or outside of the game) as they progress. In this type of game environment, developers set up smart contracts to implement the rewards and rules of the game.
How Are They Different From Traditional Games?
In traditional games, players do not have independent ownership of the assets they hold in the game, as illustrated by the fact, for instance, that the assets or rewards earned cannot be exchanged outside these games.
Meanwhile, NFT games provide opportunities for players to acquire native tokens or collect NFTs through participation. Users are usually granted full ownership and control of their digital assets and are free to hold, buy, or trade them. These digital assets can sometimes be exchanged for cryptocurrencies and then traded for fiat on third-party exchanges.
How to Get Started With NFT Gaming
As NFT games live on a blockchain, setting up a supported crypto wallet is usually necessary in order to interact with these types of games. It allows players to purchase and store their NFTs.
Learn more about what a crypto wallet is and how to choose a suitable one in this article.
Depending on the game, prospective users may be required to acquire game tokens or NFTs before participating in the game. There are tons of NFT games from different categories to choose from, so it’s important to research and understand the parameters and participation requirements before committing.
What to Look for in an NFT Game
With the varied selection of NFT games available in the market today, players should go beyond the surface and learn how to analyse a game’s data before engaging with it. Several factors can contribute to a blockchain game’s success, and below are some helpful metrics to consider when assessing a project’s health and potential.
Combined with other factors, stable (instead of sudden) user growth is a potential indicator that there is real, rather than artificial, interest in a game.
Transaction data is also important. The transaction value represents the total amount of value being transferred on-chain, which can help gauge the level of player engagement.
A project’s tokenomics can determine its economic sustainability and success. A good P2E game, as judged by its tokenomics, should have a balanced supply and demand for its token, with actual in-game utility to incentivise players to hold it. A long vesting period from private investors can also help avoid a sudden and sharp sell-off of the token in the short term.
More importantly, players should be wary of projects with token economic models that are not self-sustaining or which rely only or predominantly on new players joining to provide any value to existing players.
The bottom line: A core business and economic model should serve the best interests of players and the community that supports it. Crypto.com tracks the most popular games’ key metrics and shares its findings on its weekly NFT and GameFi update.
Four Popular NFT Games in 2022
Image source: The Lunacian
Developed by Sky Mavis, Axie Infinity is one of the longest-running blockchain games around and has, as of the date of publishing, one of the largest market caps in the P2E space. It is a Pokemon-inspired, open-ended digital pet universe built on the Ethereum blockchain, with the help of the Ronin side chain.
Users play with Axies, or fantasy creatures, that they can combat, collect, and raise. These Axies are represented by NFTs, and each Axie has different traits that determine its role in the game.
While it’s free to register, there is an initial payment involved: Players must purchase Axies first in order to start playing the game. There are two play modes available: Adventure mode with player-vs-environment (PVE) battles; and Arena, or player-vs-player (PVP), mode.
Upon entering the game, a player must purchase three Axies in order to participate. Each Axie comes with four skill cards that are dealt randomly, and each card has attack and defense points — this is where strategising comes in handy.
In Adventure mode, the objective is to level up Axies by battling monsters and earning experience points (XPs). The higher the Axies’ level, the higher the chance of obtaining SLP (Smooth Love Potion) token rewards.
In PVP mode, the goal is to defeat opponents by getting their hit points (HPs) down to zero. In this turn-based battle system, players can eliminate enemies by strategically playing cards that maximise their chance of winning.
Image source: Gods Unchained blog
Gods Unchained is a free-to-play, blockchain-based fantasy card game, inspired by other trading card games like Magic: The Gathering and Hearthstone. Launched in 2019, the game is built on Immutable X — Ethereum’s first ZK-Rollup specifically for NFTs. It offers gas-free minting and instant trade confirmation, key features that improve the overall gaming experience.
Each card features any of the six different Gods, associated with different traits, skills, and stats. When entering the game, players get two copies of the free-to-play Welcome deck, which are then used to build 30-card decks. Players are also assigned six preset starter decks from their free cards — helpful for those who don’t know how to build a deck. The game also allows players to change their deck with randomly picked cards prior to starting the game, a process known as a ‘mulligan’.
Gods Unchained relies on a turn-based mechanic: Each player has up to 60 seconds to make their turn, either with an attack or a defense action. They can choose from three available game modes: Solo Match (play against the computer), Ranked (win to rank up and earn rewards), or Direct Challenge (player-vs-player).
The Forge is a feature in Gods Unchained that allows players to fuse cards. Two identical cards can be fused within the Forge to create a higher-quality version of the original and then minted as an NFT. Fusing requires Flux, an in-game resource that can be earned by winning a mini game linked to Ranked mode called ‘Gauntlet of Gods’.
Read a more detailed guide to Gods Unchained in our Research Wizard article.
Image source: The Sandbox Game
The Sandbox is an open-world, voxel-based, free-to-play NFT gaming platform designed for both gamers and creators to enjoy. Built on the Ethereum blockchain, this decentralised gaming ecosystem is reminiscent of other popular traditional web games like Minecraft and Roblox.
The Sandbox has three main components: a voxel editor (‘VoxEdit’), a marketplace, and the game itself. VoxEdit is a 3D tool that allows anyone to build their own voxel-based assets. The game has its own marketplace where users can freely trade and monetise their voxel assets, known as ‘ASSETs’. There is also a game system where users can play with their creations, collect resources, and obtain rewards and tokens. These components allow users to interact with the platform based on their objectives.
As a game, The Sandbox encourages creativity, exploration, and imagination rather than following strict mechanics. This model allows each creator to shape the world however they want, and for other players to uniquely experience the platform — presenting itself as a virtual world where user-generated content can be further monetised.
Image source: The Metaverse Illuminated
DeFi Kingdoms is a pixel-based fantasy role-playing game with a visual style and feel similar to Runescape. Originally built on Harmony ONE blockchain, DeFi Kingdom has migrated to its Crystalvale expansion on DFK Chain, an Avalanche Subnet. Its original Serendale realm will relaunch on Klaytn on 21 November 2022. DeFi Kingdom is branded as a decentralised exchange (DEX), built with P2E mechanics and gamified elements on top of it. Each non-playing character (NPC) represents some way for players to interact with the DEX. For instance, players can swap currencies through the Trader, create LP tokens at the Druid, or trade items via the Vendor.
In order to get started, players need to purchase JEWEL tokens, which cover gas fees on DFK chain and can be staked, farmed, or swapped for other in-game currencies. Upon entering the game, a player will want to head to the Marketplace and swap their JEWELs for CRYSTALs. CRYSTAL is the Power Token of DeFi Kingdoms, which is needed to participate in any in-game action and transaction, such as purchasing Hero NFTs or minting new Heroes. JEWEL or CRYSTAL can be swapped for other tokens or in-game items.
The real game revolves around Heroes, which are NFTs that may be categorised as utility-based. A Hero’s value depends on their skills, attributes, stats, and rarity. To get their first Hero, players can purchase one from the Tavern using CRYSTALs. It helps to have at least one Hero to advance in the game.
Once players get their Heroes sorted, they can send them on non-combat quests to gain experience and rewards. In Profession quests, a Hero works specific professions (Miner, Gardener, Forager, and Fisher) and further increase their skills. In Training quests, Heroes put their stats to the test for an increased experience.
Where Are NFT Games Headed?
These are just four popular NFT games today, and there are countless other fun and engaging games offered in the market to try out. With the development efforts, venture funding, and mindshare that GameFi is receiving today, we should expect that the NFT games space will continue growing.
Before putting time, money, and effort into playing an NFT game, it is best to research it first to know that it is truly worth engaging with.
To help enthusiasts stay on top of trends, Crypto.com gathers and shares the most relevant NFT and GameFi updates on a weekly basis.
Due Diligence and Do Your Own Research
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