Adoption is a word you’ll hear on an almost daily basis in the crypto space. It can though mean different things to different people. For some, it’s all about just getting more people into buying crypto and thus pushing the prices up. For them, adoption means nothing more than higher profits.
To those of us who aren’t solely focussed on enriching ourselves, it’s a broader term. We want to see crypto continue to take bigger and bigger chunks out of the traditional financial system. We want to see it loosen the grip that fiat currencies and banks have over our everyday lives. To us, crypto is more than just an asset class: it’s a medium of exchange that we can use on our own terms.
There has been no shortage of headlines over the last few years about businesses waking up and smelling the crypto. An increasing number of stores and companies now accept payment for goods and services in BTC and other cryptos, allowing us more financial freedom than ever before. But all the hype around being able to buy your morning latte using crypto (back when we were able to do that sort of thing) has hidden another important area of adoption from view.
We’re spending more of our lives online, especially as lockdowns drag on. Many of us are spending some of that time playing games online too and it’s here that crypto adoption finds another frontier. Blockchain-based games are taking off in popularity and they’re using crypto to power their in-game ecosystems. Transactions made within these games are going to play an increasingly major role in driving adoption of crypto forward in a whole other direction.
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What is a Blockchain Game?
There are two main features to blockchain games. We’ve already covered the first: the integration of cryptocurrency for in-game payments and/or the use of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) within the games themselves. NFTs allow gamers to own unique assets within games that can be traded with other players or transferred across platforms. A good example would be a rare weapon in Fortnite.
Then there’s the nature of blockchain itself: an incorruptible database which can store information about who owns which items and what they are worth. This would enable them to be traded safely, with buyers having confidence that their items are genuine and sellers have a record of the sale being finalised. Smart contracts can be used to make the whole process seamless and entirely transparent.
There are also consequences for game data too. By using blockchain, players’ progress can be tracked and cheating made all-but impossible. The days of nefarious gamers hacking extra skills or unlocking higher levels could be numbered.
Blockchain is opening up a whole new world of possibilities for gamers. Not only is it allowing them to immerse themselves even more in the games they play, but it is also giving many the opportunity to monetise their hobby. Great players can earn tangible rewards for their skills, while those with an artistic leaning can design and sell desirable, collectable in-game items. The potential is vast and the game devs are only just getting started.
The Best Blockchain Games
As you can imagine, the blockchain gaming space is growing fast, with new titles coming out all the time as demand increases. As with regular gaming, there are good, bad and indifferent blockchain games, catering to all sorts of tastes. But we’re not interested in those. We’re concerned with the titles that are setting the pace for the rest of the sector and laying early claim to classic status.
So, here in no particular order are ten of the blockchain games we’re most excited about. It’s a tough job playing a whole heap of games to find the best ones, but someone’s gotta do it.
1. The Sandbox
This virtual world platform has been around since 2012 as a regular iOS, Android and Windows game, but pivoted towards blockchain when bought by Animoca Brands in 2018. The game is all about the creativity of its users and the content they generate all contributes to the ever-expanding Sandbox multiverse.
The Sandbox takes its lead from games like Minecraft and Roblox, but seeks to concentrate power and ownership in the hands of its users rather than the developers. It uses NFTs to enable users to own their creations and reward them for building and maintaining the game’s ecosystem.
Users can create in-game objects through the VoxEdit function and then sell them in the Sandbox’s online marketplace. The game makes use of three separate tokens to allow them to do this. SAND is an ERC-20 token and the main in-game currency which functions as ‘the basis for all of the ecosystem’s transactions and interactions.’
LAND consists of NFTs representing digital real estate which can be bought to develop as the player chooses. If the LAND is developed successfully it can be rented out or sold at a profit.
Finally, there are ASSETS: these are player-created ERC-1155 tokens that can also be traded in the marketplace and represent the content generated by the users.
SAND tokens are available on a number of exchanges, but if you use Binance then you can take advantage of Guy’s 20% trading discount there. If you want to buy LAND then you’ll first need to load up on SAND and buy through one of the presales that take place on the game platform itself. ASSETS can also be bought here.
If you want to learn more about The Sandbox, then Guy’s deep dive goes into a lot more detail, as well as giving a broader overview of the tokenomics of SAND.
2. The Six Dragons
The Enjin platform is fast becoming a hub for blockchain game developers, as it builds ‘a product ecosystem that will help humanity create advanced virtual economies through the power of blockchain technology.’
It offers a platform on which to build blockchain games and mint the tokens that power them, while also offering wallet and marketplace services too. Its native Enjin Coin (ENJ) is an ERC-20 token that backs the in-game assets issued by games on the platform, thus allowing them to be freely traded.
One of the most exciting games on the Enjin platform has to be The Six Dragons, a fantasy-themed open-world RPG in which players can ‘explore endless lands, farm for valuable materials, craft more than 300 unique items, trade items with other players and improve their arsenal using powerful enchants.’
As with The Sandbox, the emphasis here is all on the user. The game prides itself on being shaped and run by its players and thus truly decentralised in the best blockchain tradition. The fantasy genre is a pretty well-worn one in both traditional and blockchain gaming, but The Six Dragons looks amazing and gives players plenty of scope to explore the game’s world while acquiring and trading a wide variety of items.
The ability to design and craft items to then use or sell has to be earned, thus rewarding players who participate in the game and help grow its ecosystem. For users wanting to buy Enjin Coin to use in the game, Binance is once again the best bet, though other exchanges do support it.
3. Axie Infinity
A recent Coin Telegraph article put it nicely when it stated that blockchain games have more in common with crypto investing than more mainstream games like Call of Duty. This is particularly true of Axie Infinity, a game that takes its lead from Pokémon and Crypto Kitties. Here players buy and breed cute little creatures called Axies while battling other players in PvP mode, or the game’s AI in PvE.
Players need to buy a minimum of three Axies to get started, with the cheapest starting from 0.0421 ETH (around $75). This means a pretty hefty initial investment, but time and effort spent on the game can net you a return, as winning battles earns you Small Love Potions (SLPs). These are the game’s utility tokens and can then be used to breed more Axies, which can then be sold to other players. The higher an Axie’s breed count, the more expensive it becomes.
SLPs can be traded on Uniswap, enabling dedicated players to earn from their endeavours. Axie Infinity also has a governance token in the form of Axie Infinity Shards (AXS). These can be staked, used to buy NFTs in the game’s marketplace and give holders a say in how the network is run. AXS can also be traded on Uniswap and, of course, Binance. (Don’t forget to use Guy’s trading discount.)
The graphics and gameplay of Axie Infinity aren’t for everyone, but all crypto fans must applaud the news that some players have even been able to earn a living from playing. A fine example of blockchain working for the little guy.
4. Sorare Fantasy Football
Collecting football cards briefly consumed my life when I was a kid and I know plenty of people who’ll admit to spending way too much time playing fantasy football as adults. Sorare has brought the two together for the blockchain generation and some of their collectable digital cards have already changed hands for eye-watering sums of money.
Gamers assemble a team of five players by buying cards at auction on the Sorare marketplace, or by trading them with other payers. Cards are valued according to the players on them and by the numbers produced. Each player has only one unique card produced per season, which makes them the most valuable type to own. The current season’s unique card for Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappe was bought for over €55,000, which should give you an idea of the levels of engagement of some gamers.
Your fantasy team of five players will then win points depending on the performance of those players in real-life games. Gamers can win more cards or pay-outs in ETH if their team does well. ETH functions as the in-game currency, though gamers can fund their accounts with fiat as well.
As with any self-respecting blockchain game, the potential to earn from playing is there, either by selecting an all-conquering team or by buying astutely and selling those cards when they’ve gone up in value.
Blockchain also ensures that gamers can trade their card with confidence, knowing that they’re not buying fakes and having access to the full history of every card on the marketplace. You can thus see what the card your looking at has sold for previously, helping you decide whether or not to invest. While some cards may change hands for a footballer’s weekly wage, there are plenty of cheaper options for those looking to start small.
If playing God is your thing and you were a fan of SimCity back in the day, then MegaCryptoPolis3D is the blockchain-based answer to your prayers. It’s a city-building MMO dApp built on Ethereum and allows you to buy, develop and monetise a plot of land within the decentralised game map.
To begin playing, you need to connect your Web3 wallet (eg MetaMask) to your game account, which will enable you to begin buying land and developing it. As with the other games on this list, the more you’re willing to invest, the more you’ll be able to earn. Providing services, selling advertising space and collect taxes on the land you own are just some of the ways in which you can earn from playing the game.
Last year also saw MegaCryptoPolis3D go DeFi, with the launch of its $MEGA token. This opens up a whole new set of options for players – best outlined in this Medium post – and includes yield farming, liquidity mining and trading on any DEX.
The game runs on both Ethereum and TRON and is available for both desktop and mobile.
6. Neon District
Sci-fi dystopias are another recurring theme of blockchain games and Neon District is one of the best in this niche. This RPG has a cyberpunk theme and sees players battling enemies in Unity City, ‘filled with crime syndicates, oracles, cogs, genetic mods, winding plots and a morally-questionable cast of characters.’
Players fight their way through Unity City, picking up new skills and unique pieces of kit, all represented by good old NFTs. These can then be traded in the game’s marketplace, where ETH is once again the main currency, while some are changing hands on third-party sites like Rarible.
The game is sumptuously designed by the devs at Blockade games, the team behind the now sadly-defunct Plasma Bears. It features enemies to battle, puzzles to solve and ‘trading card game battle mechanics’ to master on your quest through the seething backstreets of the enormous cityscape. Its first season is geared towards single-player mode, while the upcoming Season 2 will expand the scope of the game with a co-operative feature which will allow players to fight alongside each other.
7. Age of Rust
It may seem a little premature to be recommending a title that hasn’t even been fully released yet, but Age of Rust just looks too good to ignore. This single-player first-person game casts you as Quinn 7, a 22nd-century hacker ‘sequenced and stored away for the future.’ Now you must cross the universe, exploring abandoned space stations and the remnants of once-great civilisations on distant planets, all while dodging the attentions of rogue AI.
The gameplay looks astounding and Age of Rust should find itself the jewel in the crown of the Enjin platform once it’s released via Steam later this year. The in-game items to own and trade are what you’d expect from a game of this nature and players can expect to tool up with a wide variety of weapons, equipment and extra skills to take on those pesky robots.
The in-game puzzles will come in three forms. Adventure progress such as finding a hidden door or passageway will move the story along. Crypto puzzles can be solved to earn rewards of up to 4 BTC, 35,000 ENJ and other NFT rewards, while crypto treasure hunts span the game, offering a 20 BTC bonanza to the eventual solver. All of this, coupled with the in-game NFT marketplace, offers a host of economic incentives to get gamers hooked.
8. 9Lives Arena
Another Enjin title that is still in testing ahead of its release is 1on1 fantasy PvP 9Lives Arena, which features different warrior classes doing battle in ‘a competitive arena built around practice, preparation, and permadeath.’
This last point raises the stakes considerably: each warrior has nine lives and you lose a life whenever you lose a battle. Once your warrior loses their ninth battle then only their stats remain, commemorated on a statue. You meanwhile, will have to set about training and nurturing a new champion.
Once you’ve chosen your warrior from the likes of Viking, Gladiator, Samurai and others besides, you can customise them to your heart’s content. Weapons, skins, skills and more can be collected, while winning battles will unlock yet more rewards. A companion called Ooogy (yes, really) will help you as you train your warrior amidst the ruins of ancient Atlantis and successful warriors can get the chance to craft their own weapons which can then be sold or exchanged with other players.
Virtual worlds are big business in the blockchain world and, along with its rival The Sandbox, Decentraland is one of the dominant platforms. Built on Ethereum, it works in a similar way to its big rival, with users buying up land to develop and monetise as they see fit.
The Metaverse is divided into a limited number of LAND parcels, each represented by its own ERC-721 NFT. The in-game currency meanwhile is MANA, an ERC-20 token which can be used to buy LAND and customise it.
The whole Decentraland Metaverse is comprised of 90,601 individual plot of LAND, each of which is 100 square metres. Users can develop these as they wish, though large parts of the metaverse are divided into broadly themed districts. These districts came about from crowdsales of MANA tokens and are permanently owned by their buyers who cannot trade them.
Because Decentraland is a decentralised autonomous organisation (DAO), MANA token holders have a say in the project’s governance and how the metaverse is run. MANA can be earned in-game or bought on a number of exchanges, though the best liquidity is, of course, to be found on Binance. The in-game marketplace has a vast array of things to spend it on.
Part of the genius of Decentraland is how it mimics real life while giving its players far more control than they’d get outside of the metaverse. LAND holders can sell advertising space, lease their digital real estate out to others or use it to host paid-for experiences, all of which is mostly beyond the scope of folks like us in the big bad world. Power to the people indeed. Check out Guy’s video for a more in-depth look at the project.
10. Infinite Fleet
Last on our list, but by no means least, is Infinite Fleet, another space-based MMO due for release later this year. Players will take command of the United Sol Federation starship to do battle with the Atrox aliens. Your arsenal of ships and other weapons can all be upgraded and a co-operative mode will enable you to team up with friends to fight the good fight together.
The in-game currency is INF (not to be confused with the native token of the Infinitus project, which shares the same ticker). The project has some eye-catching support, with investment having come from both Litecoin creator Charlie Lee and Blockstream CEO Adam Back. Blockstream itself is also heavily involved with the creation of INF, issuing it on its own Liquid Network. The supply of INF is fixed, like bitcoin’s, and will be issued to players via a ‘Proof-of-participation’ model.
Infinite Fleet is already generating a lot of excitement amongst blockchain gamers and looks set to give Age of Rust a run for its money when both are released in the near future.
Of course, these are just our top ten picks in a universe of hundreds of incredible-looking web3 games with intense, fully immersive storylines and cinema-like graphics. A great place to check out for anyone interested in exploring blockchain gaming further is Polkastarter Gaming and their own top 10 blockchain games for 2022.
Polkastarter Gaming is the authority on everything blockchain gaming related and offers an unbiased home for the future of web3 gaming. The Polkastarter platform provides game reviews, news, exclusive interviews, and overviews for numerous blockchain games.
The Polkastarter Gaming team provides investment and advisory services for some of the most promising up-and-coming games in the space and are even hosting their inaugural iteration of the annual GAM3 Awards ceremony. The GAME3 awards celebrate the world of gaming on the blockchain and highlights the fact that there is so much more to crypto gaming than simple play-to-earn mechanics and poor gameplay with 2D graphics.
An Expanding Universe
As developers and gamers wake up to the promise of blockchain, expect to see yet more titles appear over the coming months and years. The combination of blockchain and gaming should prove a win-win for both gamers and developers, with players getting more say in how their favourite games are run and maintained, as well as greater control over their assets and the chance to make money from their endeavours.
Devs too stand to benefit from this new gaming frontier. Funding will be easier to raise through gaming communities and token sales and auctions can be harnessed to drive the hype around emerging projects. The future’s bright, the future’s blockchain.