Blockchain gaming is a multi-billion dollar industry and one of the fastest-growing crypto sectors for investors. Games have become popular over the years mainly due — during the good times — the remarkable profits they can generate for players and in-game cryptocurrency holders.
In a sector rife with innovation, the industry is regularly updated with fresh and intriguing games. However, given that these games, or more specifically their native tokens, are plagued by a lot of volatility, one wonders whether the blockchain gaming industry can truly thrive in a non-stable environment.
This article will focus on the top crypto games, how players can earn rewards, and the problems and disadvantages plaguing the industry.
Top Crypto Games
While over 3,000 crypto games exist, a few games have managed to stand out and gain popularity among gamers for various reasons, either their reward system or their graphics, gameplay, and feel.
The following are some of the most notable games.
Created by Sky Mavic, Axie Infinity is a fascinating play-to-earn game where users can collect pets called Axies to use in battles against other players in a virtual world. Players can use the Axies to engage in several enjoyable activities in the game, such as kingdom-building, breeding, raising, and combat.
The Axies are collectible non-fungible tokens (NFTs), each with its own set of unique characteristics, traits, and abilities. These NFTs can be earned, bought, or traded for other NFTs or tokens.
To earn rewards in Axie Infinity, players fight and win battles using their Axies. The amount won depends on their skill level at the time, also known as Matchmaking Rating (MMR). An increase in MMR increases the reward won.
Rewards are won in the form of tokens called Smooth Love Potion (SLP), which is the native token of the game. Players start by winning 3SLPs per battle won, and they increase their rewards the more they play and win. At the time of writing, 3SLPs were equivalent to $0.015.
The Axie Infinity Ecosystem also uses the Axie Infinity Shard (AXS) as a token of exchange. AXS holders can use it to buy and sell Axies and take part in the governance of the ecosystem.
Aside from the good rewards, Axie Infinity players also enjoy a well-maintained ecosystem that promises growth.
And those good rewards? They are as prone to volatility as the rest of the market — Axie picked up millions of players in 2021, many using it as full-time work and bringing their family on board, only for SLP to lose 99% of its value during the general crypto crash in February 2022.
Additionally, due to its popularity, Axie Infinity is also prone to scams.
The Sandbox is a play-to-earn game with a decentralized virtual world built on blockchain technology. This game is centered around user-generated content created through building in the metaverse space.
Created in 2011 by Picowl, the Sandbox was launched as a way to introduce people to blockchain technology through virtual gaming. Players of this game can create virtual worlds, complete with characters, buildings, art, events, and resources, and even determine the interactions within the world.
After that, everything users create becomes NFTs, including characters, buildings, items, and land. Players can either share or monetize their in-game assets to earn crypto rewards through the platform’s marketplace.
The Sandbox ecosystem is served by SAND tokens, which can be used when buying, selling, or transferring assets within the platform.
The game has gained popularity due to its metaverse approach. As such, many leading brands and businesses, including Samsung, Atari, Adidas, Gucci, and HSBC, have already acquired land in the Sandbox and are building their projects.
One of the best things about being a Sandbox player is that you have control over how much you earn by setting the price for your NFTs. Assets in the Sandbox market can range from $0.97 to $4,826 (as of September 2023). You can, therefore, set your NFTs’ pricing anywhere within this range and find a willing buyer.
However, the game is also very susceptible to scammers due to the liberty of setting prices and earnings. Additionally, the platform’s native token, SAND has little use outside the game, making it of little value to those who earn it.
Like Sandbox, Decentraland is also set in the metaverse but focuses on real estate. The play-to-earn game was developed by Ariel Meilich and Esteban Ordano and is meant to enable players to build and monetize their immersive virtual real estate.
Before building real estate, players must buy land in the metaverse, which they will have control over. These pieces of land are sold in the form of NFTs.
After acquiring land, how players monetize and advance their territory is up to them. For instance, players can build structures, offer advertising space, or host events. Aside from selling land and other systems, players can also earn when other players participate in events, gaming challenges, and social experiences.
Moreover, gamers can offer virtual services such as design and development work. This gaming ecosystem is also known for its virtual events, such as the Metaverse Fashion Week and music festivals.
Selling land on Decentraland can generate a substantial income, with the highest price so far being a staggering $2.43 million. Other rewards are earned through MANA, which is Decentraland’s native token.
Despite offering many options in terms of what one can do to earn money, all the land in Decentraland has similar terrain, which limits how much a player can do that will be unique and stand out in the ecosystem.
Illuvium is one of the most well-known NFT open-world adventure games. This interstellar-themed game, which features many exciting intergalactic encounters, was created by Kieran and Aaron Warwick.
To play this game, the player wakes up on the shattered planet of Illuvium after escaping a crashed starship. In the intergalactic space where the game is set, there are alien-like creatures called illuvials, which the player is supposed to find, train, and add to their team.
Illuvials are essentially NFTs, of which over 150 exist. These creatures are all different in terms of their skills and traits. Over time, players can also improve and evolve their pets. Like in other games, these NFTs can also be sold, earning the player some returns.
Players can also compete against one another using these Illuvials in the Illuvium Arena game.
Rewards in Illivium are earned as ILV, the native cryptocurrency of the Illuvium gaming community. Players can acquire ILV tokens through quest completion, combat victory, or creature discovery.
To benefit from and participate in the governance of the Illuvium ecosystem, ILV tokens can also be staked.
While the game is fun, its rewards do not profit the player substantially. The game also seems very limited in its ability to scale and provide more value to the players.
Splinterlands is another blockchain-based collectible card game. This game, which has now amassed a respectable following, was launched in 2018 by co-founders Jesse Reich and Matthew Rosen.
In Splinterlands, players collect and battle various digital monsters represented as cards called’‘Splinter’,’ which are also NFTs. These are NFTs that have their unique abilities and attributes. Players can earn crypto tokens by competing in battles and tournaments.
Splinters can also be earned by participating in daily quests and battle mode to unlock more creatures to compete with.
In addition to card packs, winning these tournaments increases aplayer’ss skill level, increasing the amount of Dark Energy Crystals (DEC) they can earn from the game. Dark Energy is the in-game digital currency in Splinterlands.
Earning DECs is slow and generates very little profit. To make a significant profit, however, players focus on selling NFTs, which are more lucrative. Depending on their rarity, magic, health, and attack levels, cards can be worth as little as $19 or as much as $17,800.
Impact of Crypto Market Volatility on Blockchain Games
While the volatility of the crypto market does have a significant effect on the blockchain gaming sector, it still receives pools of capital despite the rest of the crypto market struggling and asset prices dropping.
According to a gaming report by DappRadar and BGA Games, the blockchain gaming industry represented a solid 41% of all the engagements in the crypto industry, with a daily unique active wallets (dUAW) count of 712,611 for the sector.
In comparison, for the same period, decentralized finance (DeFi) accounted for 30% of all crypto engagement, social blockchain platforms represented 15%,, whereas NFTs, which have been struggling over the past year, held 4%.
Crypto and blockchain are frequently associated with one another. The two, however, are not as closely related as you might first imagine.
Although it seems simple to combine the two, you should think of it more like combining tech stocks traded on the London Stock Exchange with the operations of tech companies. Although there is a correlation, it is not exactly what you would expect.
While the rest of the crypto industry, including startups, is struggling to receive funding, investors are confidently adding money to blockchain gaming’s capital pool.
In July, the blockchain gaming industry received a substantial $297 million in investment funding, 63% of which was geared towards building the infrastructure to support more game development.
This shows that the industry is just getting started, and investors are betting on tools and platforms to facilitate future crypto and NFT-driven games.
Blockchain gaming is still in its early stages, and yet as of 2022, the global blockchain gaming industry market size was valued at $4.83 billion. This value, according to some analysts, will expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 68.3% from 2023 to 2030.
In terms of blockchains, it is safe to say that blockchain is yet to exhaust all platforms, seeing as it is only just beginning to make a debut on the Bitcoin blockchain. Most blockchain gaming has been concentrated on the Ethereum blockchain for many years, although Binance Smart Chain now hosts most games, holding 38% of 3,629 games as of March this year.
Bitcoin blockchain has been uncharted territory for gaming mainly due to the lack of technology to enable games to be developed on the blockchain. However, since the introduction of ordinals, Bitcoin’s version of NFTs, gaming on the platform is not so far off.
The gaming community has inched even nearer with the development of recursive ordinals, which have made it possible to inscribe large-sized content on satoshis on Bitcoin, even to the size of a whole game. While the technology is still being worked on to enable the development of immersive video games, gaming on the Bitcoin blockchain looks imminent.