Web3 Gaming
November 30, 2022

What are NFT games and why they’re trending

Blockchain and NFTs have irreversibly changed the gaming industry. What are NFT games and why do developers enrich games with non-fungible tokens?

The GameFi market was created by combining video games and finances: it’s a unique virtual space where players can earn money while playing their favorite games. NFT games, which are part of this sphere, allow users to earn real money by various means, e.g. winning matches against other players, breeding virtual animals or other creatures, mining resources, and selling their unique in-game items. 

According to Mordor Intelligence research, the global NFT gaming market is growing at a very fast pace, and the growth is expected to reach a CAGR of 32.56% between 2022 and 2027. Another research by Absolute Reports shows the possible enormity of the play-to-earn NFT game sector, as the market is expected to grow to an astounding USD 2,845.1 million by 2028. 

NFT Trading volume in 2022
Source: Dapp Radar

It’s clear this budding market offers a great opportunity for game developers that is ripe for the taking. In this guide post, we’ll have a look at what NFT games are which titles are trending among players.

But first, what are NFTs?

NFT is short for non-fungible token, that is, a unique digital asset (token) recorded on the blockchain that cannot be copied or altered. The reason they can’t be tampered with is that they’re stored on the blockchain, an unchangeable distributed ledger that doesn’t use a single server for storage but rather distributes the data over a large number of devices.

There are many types of NFTs, as you can put any type of media file on the blockchain. This means you can find NFTs that are animations, graphics, music, videos, and even memes. 

Now, let’s tackle the “non-fungible part.” Fungibility means that something is exchangeable. Both cryptocurrencies and fiat currencies are fungible: you can exchange one dollar note for another and their value will be equal.

NFTs, however, are non-fungible. It means they’re not exchangeable; they’re unique and cannot be divided or exchanged one for another, just like in the case of art pieces or other collectibles—there is only one “Starry Night” by Vincent van Gogh. While there are other paintings created by van Gogh, their monetary and cultural value may be different from the "Starry Night". The same goes for non-fungible tokens; their value differs, even across one collection. For instance, the most expensive Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT is Bored Ape #8817, which sold for $3.4 million. However, an average price of a BAYC token is just $76.2k.

NFTs can serve many functions. They can be simple collectibles or art pieces, or they can be used for certifying the authenticity and ownership of anything in the virtual or real world. For instance, universities could issue diplomas and certifications as NFTs in order to verify their received certification. NFTs could also be used as property deeds to ensure the ownership of real-world property. TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington has already done that by putting his Kyiv apartment on the blockchain.

NFTs can be fully digital, or they can be linked to real-life objects like works of art, tickets, or even phygital pieces of designer clothing that you can wear both in the virtual world and in real life. During Venice Fashion Week in march Dolce & Gabbana launched the 9-piece collection Alta Moda Collezione Genesi NFTs. Buyers of each NFT received not only the digital NFT but the physical versions of the piece of clothing and access to exclusive Dolce & Gabbana events. HUMAN ONE, a kinetic video sculpture by Beeple, is one of the most expensive NFTs to date and went for an astounding $28.9 million at an auction. 

Buying NFTs is fairly simple. All you need is a crypto wallet—a storage space where you keep your tokens. Many people go for Metamask or Coinbase but you also find NFTs on dedicated NFT marketplaces, such as OpenSea, Magic Eden, and Binance NFT. Each offers slightly different tokens, so check out what works best for you. 

Biggest NFT marketplaces in 2021 | Elympics Blog
Source: Dapp Radar

However, today we’ll have a look at one specific type of NFTs—NFTs used in games. Let’s have a look at what an NFT game actually is. 

What are NFT games?

We already know what NFTs are, but what about NFT games? In most cases, NFT games are just like traditional video games, but with a little twist.

You can battle with other players, collect items, spend in-game currencies, and explore the virtual world. But there is one big difference. In contrast to traditional video games, in NFT games some of your prizes and possessions can be exchanged or sold as they have real value. This means your in-game accomplishments can help you earn real money. But how does it exactly work?

Just like in traditional games, in an NFT game players can obtain and customize their characters and obtain new weapons, skins, lands, and other virtual objects. However, each virtual item developers put on the blockchain is unique and cannot be copied, which increases its rarity and desirability. In NFT games, the player is the sole owner of the items they receive in-game, meaning they can do with it whatever they want, for instance, sell to other players. Many of these games also have implemented play-to-earn mechanics, where players are rewarded for playing by earning NFTs. 

Long story short, when launching NFT games on the blockchain game developers can make each virtual item such as weapons, land, or any other collectibles, an NFT. Because of that, in-game objects can be used like any other NFT – players can trade them with each other on marketplaces or sell them for cryptocurrencies.

Benefits of NFT games

Now that we know what NFT games are, let’s discuss the many benefits they hold for players.

Earning money by playing one's favorite game is a dream come true for many players, so NFT games can be very tempting. In many pay-to-win games, where players pay for items or characters giving them a significant advantage over others, players pay for virtual items that don’t really belong to them. While they can use them in-game, they cannot do anything else: give them to other players, trade or sell for real money. 

In some cases, players who wish to sell or buy items will even face consequences: in Elden Ring, users selling or buying the in-game currency called Runes on eBay can get suspended or even banned from the game.

In contrast, the items players collect or purchase in NFT games belong to them, and it’s their sole decision what to do with them.

The current state of NFT games

Even though the cryptocurrency market hasn’t been doing great, NFT games are flourishing. The market for NFT games isn’t saturated yet, and there are many opportunities for developers and players alike. According to Coindesk, the NFT gaming scene saw a 2,000% increase in Q1 of 2022 and NFT gamers make up more than half of the total blockchain user base. 

Investments in the NFT and blockchain gaming sphere are continuing despite the crypto winter that has been affecting the financial sphere. Gaming remains the leading category amid all metaverse and web3 investments as it saw $198.4 million in funding just in October. These investments include $10 million in funding for AAA Blockchain Game Delysium and $40 million for the web3 gaming studio Horizon Blockchain Games. 

Unique active wallets by category, 2022 vs 2021 | Elympics Blog
Source: Dapp Radar

Top NFT games

Now, let’s have a look at some of the top NFT game titles that have caught the eye of many players.

CryptoKitties – one of the 1st blockchain games released in 2017 by Axiom Zen. In this NFT game, players have to take care of their virtual pets and breed them to create completely unique, NFT-based CryptoKitties. In December 2017, one of the virtual cats was sold for more than $100,000.

Axie Infinity – one of the best NFT games according to many developed in 2018 by the Vietnamese studio Sky Mavis. This game about cute axolotl-like creatures called Axies is heavily inspired by the Pokémon games series. Players can buy and breed their NFT-based Axies for the purpose of battling other players’ Axies. This NFT game is hugely popular in the Philippines where it can even be the main source of income for players.

Illuvium – an open-world, Interoperable Blockchain Game that offers a mix of virtual-world exploration, NFT creature collection, and battling with other players. Players collect magical creatures called Illuvials, which they can then trade with other players.

The Sandbox – this Minecraft-like game is one of the most successful NFT games and a part of the metaverse. Players can build their own worlds and sell their creations in the marketplace. They also can play various mini-games and explore other players' worlds. The game is still in the alpha stage, but it’s been getting attention from players and brands alike, as companies like Adidas and Gucci use the platform for promotional purposes.

Gods Unchained – one of the best NFT games for card battle game lovers designed by Chris Clay, the former game director of Magic: The Gathering Arena. In this free-to-play title, players collect cards by purchasing them from other players or winning battles. In contrast to many NFT games, in Gods Unchained, more emphasis is placed on players’ skills and strategy, so this is one of the best NFT games for new and inexperienced players.

Splinterlands – another tradable card NFT game inspired by titles like Hearthstone and Magic the Gathering. Its gameplay is similar to Gods Unchained; players can compete against each other and win card battles to earn cards and in-game currency. It requires players to pay only $10 for a starter pack of cards.

Star Atlas – an upcoming AAA-grade MMO NFT game and one of the most anticipated NFT games ever. It’s focused on exploring space, developing starships and alien lands, mining, and battling other players.

Final thoughts on NFT games

NFT games are developing nicely and getting increasingly more players by offering opportunities that traditional games don’t. They’re perfect for those who want to combine their love for gaming with making a profit on the side. They’re still at an early development stage, but fingers show that they’re going to get more and more attention.

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