Where Web3 gaming stands
2021 – The year when crypto games took off
In 2021, blockchain-based games grew from being a niche subset of the gaming industry to a mature segment in its own right. 1.4 million unique active wallets have connected to dApps on a daily average at the end of 2021, accounting for roughly half of all blockchain usage, according to the Blockchain Game Alliance 2021 Member Survey and Report. There are many factors that have contributed to this massive growth, including the increase in popularity of video games as legitimate entertainment, mainstream attention of cryptocurrencies, the general push towards digitalisation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and more accessibility to other sources of income via the internet.
The vast majority of blockchain-based games are P2E (play-to-earn), meaning that they reward the player for their activity, completing quests and advancing within the game world. These rewards are often distributed in the form of tokens that can be redeemed by the player for other cryptocurrencies. dApps have increasingly complex ecosystems, and utilise multiple tokens for various use cases. These usually come in the form of gamified incentives like staking.
While this explosion in the popularity of crypto gaming indicates that crypto and gaming have a shared future, it does not necessarily mean that the space has matured or that it has found a solid footing yet. For the most part, P2E games are still perceived to be a novelty and face the same “shiny new object” syndrome prevalent in other areas of crypto, making it a significant challenge for developers to build games that have high retention. Crypto games have come a long way, and yet there are countless improvements that can be made to make these dApps achieve parabolic growth and mainstream adoption. For this growth to happen, teams will need to create a meaningful, fun, and engaging experience as opposed to the (not so) under-handed pump-and-dump schemes that most P2E games are today.
The (quite short) evolution of P2E
There are only a handful of successful crypto games out there at the moment. As is the case with every new industry, many people do not see the forest for the trees, gravitating to what is considered popular before becoming bored and moving on.
CryptoKitties was arguably the first popular blockchain-based game with a gamified economy back in November 2017. At the time, it attracted many players and inspired a number of clones. The simple battling gameplay combined with the minting mechanics was a great way to present an accessible and fun game to the masses, as well as push forward an easily understandable use case for NFTs via the Kitty minting mechanic.
Another successful battler and asset trading game that took quite some inspiration from CryptoKitties and coasted to success in mid-2021 is Axie Infinity. The game’s economy became so profitable that people in countries like the Philippines were playing it as a full-time job and back in 2021 were earning a decent living off of it. According to DappRadar, Axie Infinity remains the largest P2E game by volume as of July 17 2022, having roughly $121.6 million worth of incoming value into its smart contracts.
While still in the very early stages of blockchain-based games, there are some signs that the industry is trending towards developing engaging game experiences rather than just a pump and dump with a video game interface. 2021 saw the rise of several games with dedicated developers and an active and stable community. Arguably the best example in this case is Splinterlands. The card trading game launched in 2018 and for several years it only had a small community. Continuous development and content have enabled Splinterlands to ride the first GameFi wave in style and build the industry’s most stable player base. Splinterlands’ success has also prompted a large number of trading card clones. In a similar vein to building up community via a dedicated content schedule, Alien Worlds has managed to garner quite a stable player base, having roughly 543,210 unique monthly users as of July 2022. Alien Worlds resembles a metaverse more than Splinterlands does, being centred around NFTs and DAOs (in the form of planetary councils) that has players work with each other and compete for mining resources, alongside other passive income opportunities.
Outside of just a handful of games, most of the opportunities for gamers in Web3 have lacked quality. In crypto gaming, game genres tend to trend, just like in traditional Web2 gaming. When one game becomes a breakout success, similar to the rise of Axie Infinity or Splinterlands, then a flurry of clones of the same game will be released shortly after. This tendency to follow the winners is in part due to the massive financial incentives for developers. Moreover, it is relatively easy and straightforward to simply copy a whitepaper and tokenomics model and pair it with Unity/Unreal assets purchased from a marketplace. However, as the most recent bear market settles in, this is changing. With the total crypto market cap down by roughly 71% since its peak on November 10 2021 at just over $3 trillion, “bull market follower” projects have fallen away, and a substantial number of creative projects are receiving significant funding from blockchains like Avalanche and Polygon, who are heavily investing in P2E.
Crypto games seem to be maturing despite the bear market
With most crypto projects bleeding at the time of writing this report, both capital and interest have started to make their way towards projects with solid fundamentals and actual products. This migration is more prominent within the P2E arena at the moment, as interest in move-to-earn and metaverse land sales are still going strong.
Bull markets are great drivers for innovation due to the fact that companies, resources, and people are financially incentivised to join the fray, compete, and attract the interest of new users. However, the quality of new projects that pop up during these times tends to have an inverse relationship with the state of the market.
A good example of low-quality bull market projects is the relatively short lifespan that ICOs had before essentially disappearing overnight in December 2018. ICOs represented a mini craze in and of itself that got choked by regulation and the subsequent bear market of that time. ICOs were just a method of raising funds for crypto projects early and did not contribute anything of substance to the space. Similarly, following the Dot Com bubble burst of 2001, most internet companies fell by the wayside. Only the few that had strong fundamentals and an actual product survived, like Amazon and Ebay. Bear markets are for building, and it appears that interest for crypto gaming, even amidst a crypto downturn, has been higher than it ever was prior to 2021.
Tokenomics make or break a P2E project
The quality of most P2E games impacts its ability to onboard players. But there is a much bigger problem in Web3 gaming and even in other areas of crypto like DeFi: bad tokenomics. Blockchain has enabled individuals to truly own digital assets. This has opened an entire world of possibilities when it comes to economic ecosystems. When there is no centralised authority to simply mint an asset and a market is truly “free”, old economic rules stop functioning all together.
Mercenary liquidity is an example of new economic behaviour enabled by crypto. The mercenary liquidity phenomenon happens throughout crypto and it manifests when an individual (or several) invest into a project very early and as soon as that project pumps, they sell everything and then move on to the “next big thing”, regardless of the potential of the initial project. User retention has been a problem both in DeFi and Gamefi and is the reason why the charts for most crypto game tokens look like the one below for JEWEL, used in DeFi Kingdoms.
The reality is that long-term inflation and depreciation of a token isn’t at all an indication of a bad project or a scam. It is extremely difficult to create a stable and organic economy within any community, especially a video game where players have an economic incentive to play and exchange the in-game token for fiat or other cryptocurrencies.
However, the industry is very much in its infancy and there have been cases where crypto games have managed to retain a dedicated and engaged core player base, such as Splinterlands as mentioned previously. In that particular case, every update comes with new features and more incentives for players to retain at least part of their assets in order to get more rewards. There is a constant “battle” between players who put sell pressure on a game’s token and the developers who incentivise players to keep their token, thus generating buy pressure.
The argument for a player to quickly move their liquidity from game to game for profit makes sense at some level: No matter how good or bad a project is, it’s essentially more a game of luck rather than knowledge to get in early on the next Axie Infinity or DeFi Kingdoms. However, getting in very early, meaning before the actual token launch to the public, especially in a bull market, is a much safer way to make sure one can multiply their investment returns. The gist is, above all, to not get into scam games and to leave projects just as they launch and attract attention from new players and investors. Mercenary liquidity is one of the many challenges that P2E gaming and the broader crypto developer community have to tackle in order to create an engaging and prosperous ecosystem.
As was the case with free-to-play game economy design, it is only a matter of time until a project or protocol discovers a more direct path to creating a compelling economy where the incentives to proactively participate and contribute are greater than the immediate profit made from selling a game token or asset.
Web3 gaming can grow on the limitations of Web2 gaming
Observing the state of GameFi in 2022, the ecosystem has already once risen and fallen on the back of the 2021 NFT hype cycle. The “NFT go up” psychology rewarded early token raises and NFT mints for games that were far from release and narrowly focused on an earning opportunity for their users. Rather than creating genuinely fun play experiences, many P2E game projects that launched in the past 12 months skimped on gameplay and sustainable design. Instead, these games focus on lean-and-mean earn loops that narrowly skirt the definition of Ponzi schemes navigable by WASD. Unsurprisingly, many of the games released in 2021 saw brief bursts of speculative success before quickly descending into the P2E grave - a place populated by low quality games with low numbers of active wallets, low token values, and NFTs nobody cares about.
Fortunately for those unvarnished and highly financialised P2E projects, many players in the P2E space today do not prioritise gameplay in the traditional sense. Most players today are crypto native investors that want to earn. If players want to play, there are already many excellent games available for them. From realistic competitive shooters like Counter-Strike (CSGO) to fantasy card games like Hearthstone, these AAA Web2 games continue to attract millions of players many years after their launch. Unlike P2E games, most Web2 multiplayer games offer no clear earning opportunity to players. In fact, most multiplayer games actively hamstring players who want to make money playing their games.
In games like League of Legends for example, trading between players is impossible through the game client and workarounds are strictly prohibited. Because their developer, Riot Games, does not allow item trading, players will have to violate the ToS and sell their entire account on a black market website if they want to sell a rare in-game skin.
Yet, despite these limitations, players buy, sell, and trade skins in these games all the time via black market websites. Why? Because players value what other players think of them, and skins are an effective method of communicating their unique identity and status to others in-game. Since skins are a scarce resource, players naturally place monetary value on these skins. The most rare and coveted skins can be sold for amounts far exceeding their purchase price.
P2E – a natural evolution from F2P…
There is one major counterexample to the increasingly restrictive item trading policies of AAA game publishers: Valve’s Steam Community Marketplace (SCM). In 2011, two years after the release of League of Legends, Valve took a different approach to handling the budding world of in-game items and opted to enable cross-game item trading for Valve’s published titles. Only one year after the release of the trading feature, Valve reported over 500,000 weekly trades on the platform.
In response to its success, Valve launched the Steam Community Market (SCM) - a peer-to-peer platform for buying and selling in-game items on Steam with fiat currency. Today, the SCM supports nearly 20 million active sale listings across 19,000 different game items. Many of these transactions come from CSGO, one the most popular games on Steam today, averaging 800K+ daily concurrent players nearly 10 years after its release. The value that players attribute to its in-game items is evident, as the median price for the oldest CSGO cases rose from a low of $0.05 to a current price of over $60. That’s a 1200x price increase in 9 years.
The success of Valve’s SCM suggests true player ownership is the most practical short-term value-add for NFTs in the Web2 gaming space. For players, putting game items on-chain has many obvious benefits to players who want to flexibly buy, sell, or trade an item for any other on-chain asset - be it a game item, cryptocurrency, or a piece of NFT art. This kind of flexibility far surpasses what is made possible elsewhere, even by Valve’s semi-open SCM.
…If only AAA studios understand how to work with it
For developers, the disadvantages of true player ownership - financial, operational, and reputational - are more clearly defined than the benefits at this very early stage of crypto gaming.
First, the revenue opportunity associated with switching from a closed ecosystem to an open game economy is not obvious to many of these large studios accustomed to having direct revenue from players. Currently, developers benefit from closed ecosystems or “walled gardens” where they capture 100% revenue by directly controlling the sale of cosmetic items and battle passes to players. If current AAA publishers like Riot Games, with their millions of League of Legends players, opted out of their current grip on primary skin sales and opened their economy to player-to-player secondary sales, they would need to adapt to an ecosystem-based revenue model rather than direct sales.
In the case of blockchain-based P2E games, developers generate revenue differently - often via the underlying value of their in-game token and fees collected from players transacting within their ecosystem. As long as players are playing, trading, and receiving rewards in game, a well-designed game economy will flourish and its underlying token will increase in value. The increase in token value produces a virtuous cycle, in which more players join an ecosystem that is “making people money”, thereby further strengthening its economy and increasing token value.
Fundamentally, the two questions that traditional game developers need to answer in order to create a profitable Web3 product are the same as those they face with their current games: How do we attract players, engage them, and incentivise them to keep playing?
The more things (games) change, the more they stay the same
At the birth of the free-to-play (F2P) gaming model, there was a gap between two poles: the upstart studios with underwhelming games embracing a new economic model, and established AAA studios with high quality games committed to a premium $60 price tag and paid subscriptions. In P2E gaming, we’re seeing a similar gap emerge between small Web3 studios and the AAA studios that are now locked into the highly profitable F2P model. As was the case for F2P, the gap between the upstart P2E economic model and AAA game quality will eventually close. What remains unclear is which pole will bridge the gap: the Web3 upstart studio pushing the P2E model to higher production values, or the AAA studio “fixing what isn’t broken” and diving into a new monetisation model with all the associated financial, operational, and reputational risks.
Today, most P2E games remain glaringly low in gameplay quality relative to their Web2 counterparts. Going forward, we will see many more attempts to bridge the gap between economy and game quality. On the Web3 side, many studios and developers are trying to build a legitimately fun, high quality game. On the Web2 side, companies like Ubisoft continue to experiment with their Quartz NFT platform. Both sides will encounter varying levels of success and copy each other until the P2E industry hones in on a formula that is fun, fair, and financially worthwhile for both games and the people that build them.
Web3 gaming as it stands today
The more things (gaming) change, the more they stay the same
Considering that the crypto gaming market is still in its early years, many games and studios are likely to rapidly grow and follow the same downward spiral in the near future. However, the many parallels between the birth of F2P and blockchain gaming suggest that early movers in the space are worth watching. With that in mind, we have aggregated below the most successful crypto games of 2022 in terms of on-chain metrics. Our measurement approach for this list favours mature games with large transaction volumes, rather than recently released or in-development games with large budgets, veteran gaming studios, and impressive production values. Therefore, this list should be taken as a snapshot of where crypto gaming is today, rather than a list of the most impressive projects in crypto gaming by any other number of measures. It’s worth highlighting that this list contains many well-known games which are pioneers in crypto gaming and brought with them innovative designs, the promise of immense wealth, and many examples of both current best practices and what not to do. With that in mind, let’s take a look at crypto gaming’s most current stick in the sand - the top ten crypto games as they are today, on the ground, on-chain and in the hands of players.
1- Axie Infinity
Axie Infinity is one of the most well-known crypto games and has seen the most users in the past 30 days according to DappRadar. Roughly 696.000 unique addresses have interacted with the game’s smart contracts. Developed by Vietnamese studio Sky Mavis, Axie Infinity is an interesting take on auto-battler games. Players collect and mint NFTs which represent axolotl-inspired digital pets known as Axies that can be bred and battle each other within the game. It also combines elements from CryptoKitties and games like Pokemon. The game has received a lot of attention in the press in the last couple of months due to the Ronin bridge hack, the largest in crypto gaming at that point in time, totaling a whopping $650 million. Axie Infinity runs on Ethereum and Ronin.
While the game is itself doing very well in the world of P2E games, even in the current bear market, many users are quitting the game altogether. This is due to a combination of overall market sentiment as well as other more enticing new P2E game genres. Axie Infinity has undergone several revamps and added game features, with the latest 3.0 version, Axie Infinity: Origins. Despite the lack of tokenomics updates, the launch was received well with roughly 300,000 active daily users on its first day and over 500,000 installs within the week, according to Sky Mavis.
As mentioned earlier, the game has also been the subject of news headlines in April 2022 as it was the target of one of the largest hacks in crypto, amounting to a loss of $650 million. The reportedly North Korean hackers gained access to a series of validator nodes on the Ronin blockchain and were thus able to conduct fake withdrawals. A small amount of $5.8 million was recovered by Binance later on as the hackers tried to exchange some assets.
Tokenomics & Core Gameplay
The player has several avenues of progression in the game, to upgrade their collection and essentially build a kingdom for their Axies. The main mechanics include battling, breeding, minting, and owning land used in a variety of features. There is a fine balance that players tread on between keeping good Axies in order to progress more in battles and using them for breeding, with the chance of increasing their overall collection value.
There are two tokens in the game: The first is Axie Infinity Shards (AXS), which is the main currency of the game, an ERC-20 token used for in-game rewards, staking and governance participation. The second is Smooth Love Potion (SLP), a token minted as a reward for players and used in the breeding process.
Axie Infinity earns revenue through several sources from the in-game economy. These sources include a breeding fee paid in AXS whenever Axies are bred (while the SLP required for burning is burned). There is also a 4.25% fee for any successful sale of assets such as land, land items and of course, Axies. Revenue goes to the Community Treasury governed by AXS Holders.
Splinterlands is a collectible and tradeable NFT card game similar to Magic: The Gathering or Hearthstone that runs on the Hive Blockchain. The game is F2P, however in order to unlock the full content and be able to compete, players need to buy the Spellbook for a fixed price of $10, payable in crypto or fiat.
Launched in 2018, Splinterlands sought to make an engaging card trading game in a P2E market that was dominated at that time mostly by land purchase games and Crypto Kitties clones. While the game was not a breakout success at launch, it garnered an increasingly passionate playerbase through constant updates, content and developer communication. As the community grew, so did the game experience, with more card generations, classes and ultimately DAO-based fully player-run tournaments.
Tokenomics & Core Gameplay
Players engage in 1v1 battles in order to increase in rank. With each rank, the rewards received per victory also increase. Therefore, a good part of the game's tokenomics are centred around skill. Several copies of their cards can also be used to level up a certain character or rent them out. Renting is an important mechanism in the game. It costs players less to rent than buy cards and commit to a certain deck that might become less powerful in higher ranks. The community is quite active and the use of third-party websites for trading and renting is commonplace (PeakMonsters, Monster Market, Card Auctionz).
Another successful part of the game is its tournaments. Players form their own guilds, where they contribute resources to upgrade a variety of buildings. These buildings then give guild members a wide set of advantages, ranging from a guild shop with unique items, to earn more Dark Energy Crystals (DEC). Guilds also compete against each other, and since no match needs two players to be live in order to happen, tournaments run in a very fluid manner.
3- Alien Worlds
Alien Worlds is an NFT-based F2P massively multiplayer metaverse with the highest number of unique users at the time of writing. Players compete for resources, trade, and can participate in the planet DAOs by staking TLM. The resource scarcity also gives the game a limited DeFi element. Alien Worlds is made by the German developer Dacoco GmbH.
The Planet DAO system is an innovative one, as it allows players to be elected to be a Councilor, and run one or multiple planets. There can be multiple Councilors per planet who will share a multi-sig wallet with weekly elections being held. Each planet has weekly elections and operates its own metaverse with its own NFTs, environments and experiences for players.
Beyond governing their planet, players engage in mining resources from land, finding better tools, collecting minions and equipping them with weapons and customising their avatar. The game will soon roll out PVP features as well.
Tokenomics & Core Gameplay
After setting up their WAX Cloud Wallet, players choose a planet where they wish to start mining Trilium (TLM), the in-game currency. Players then choose a piece of land and a starting tool and start mining. The statistics on the tools they use, as well as the specifics of the land and the planet determine the amount of TLM they can mine.
If the player doesn’t own their land, they have to pay a commission rate as part of the TLM they mine to the Landowner. There are other factors to consider, like the charge time before mining can resume, and the possibility of even getting NFTs from a mining expedition. All in all, the economy revolves around players going on missions, renting or owning land, and collecting NFTs. TLM is capped at a supply of 10 billion, with around 5 billion expected to be created through the reward system. TLM is supported on three blockchains, namely WAX, Ethereum and BNB.
4- Farmers World
Farmers World is a WAX-based farming game similar to the old Farmville and the plethora of mobile idle clickers of today. The game’s mechanics centre around exploiting various resources and building a wide variety of buildings to expand the farm. Idle games are massively successful on mobile and they have a huge market even without the P2E component. This model has proven very successful, as games with different but similar mechanics such as RAID Shadow Legends and AFK Arena have been popular for a number of years already.
Tokenomics & Core Gameplay
Similar to other idle resource min-max collector games, Farmers World is a passive mining game with three in-game tokens: Food (FWF), Wood (FWW) and Gold (FWG). Each of these have their own use and can be freely exchanged within the game. In a somewhat similar vein to Alien Worlds, players have to optimise the NFT tools they use for resource collection, and buying plots of land to cultivate food and raise animals on.
Tools have a one hour cooldown after use, as well as a durability index, after which Gold is needed to repair it for further use. The underlying tokenomics loop is very straightforward: players need energy and tools to mine; resources need to be replenished with tools that need to be maintained in order to keep mining; mine resources to buy better tools and get more energy; repeat. Most of the game mechanics are various iterations of this process, including raising animals and growing vegetables. All in-game tokens can be sold on the secondary market for WAX.
Upland is a metaverse-oriented game that has players buy, trade, and develop parcels of land that are based on real world locations. The game is available to play in browsers, on Android or iOS devices. Developed by the Palo Alto based eponymous company, Upland runs on the EOS blockchain.
There are several cities from the US only currently available in the game, with others being rolled out over time. NFT collecting, treasure hunts, and other events are also present in the game. Upland has recently introduced football teams where users can mint players and even participate in live events and get player NFTs and various other rewards. The launch was made in partnership with the NFL Player Association.
Tokenomics & Core Gameplay
Upland has players start by doing a tutorial, after which they choose one of the many US cities available in-game. They begin as “visitors”, with a visa mechanic that has players renew it every seven days or see their inventory reset. Users have avatars that randomly explore the world and create a trail that allows them to interact with adjacent properties. They have a limit of three “sends” a day to direct their avatar to a certain location, paying a visit fee to the owner of that location.
The core of Upland is real estate purchasing and exchange on a basis vaguely similar to Monopoly. Each user tries to climb the social ladder by improving their status, property portfolio and of course, overall net worth.
6- MOBOX: NFT Farmer
Mobox is an advertised F2P2E (Free-to-Play-to-Earn) set of games that gamify features like Yield Farming and NFT trading. Players summon heroes by saving up resources and tokens, socialise and trade with each other. A big feature is the wider universe that the game is part of, the MOMOverse, which aims to be a central hub for several games within its metaverse where resources from one game can be transferred to another.
This is part of a wider trend in Web3 gaming, where either games or blockchains are striving and competing to be a one-stop solution for games and have similar quasi-monopolies like Steam has in traditional gaming.
Tokenomics & Core Gameplay
The main token of the game is the BNB-based MOBOX with a maximum supply of 1 billion. The MOMOverse is composed of games such as BLock Brawler and ChainZArena. After signing up and connecting to their wallet of choice (Trust Wallet, Metamask or Binance Chain Extension Wallet), players can purchase their rare MOMOs and other items.
MOOs are automatically staked and users can farm yield or have their MOMOs battle it out. The MOMOverse is intended to be a hub for a multitude of games where players can seamlessly exchange assets from one game to another.
7- DeFi Kingdoms
DeFi Kingdoms is a browser-based game that combines most features found in DeFi with NFT heroes that can be sent on quests, given professions, upgraded and traded. The game is, as of today, the most straightforward attempt at gamifying decentralised finance apps. DeFi Kingdoms runs on the Harmony blockchain, and has recently launched on Avalanche as well, under a different game in the same universe called Crystalvale. Players can effortlessly bridge their assets between Avalanche and Harmony straight from the game.
While the game has been quite well received by the overall crypto community due to its combination of GameFi and DeFi, both DFK and the Harmony blockchain have had their fair share of controversies and scandals within the past few months. JEWEL, which is Defi Kingdom’s main token, dropped as much as 90% from its all-time high after an exploit was discovered that allowed players to unlock their locked JEWEL. Barely two months after this exploit, a massive $100 million hack hit the Horizon Bridge of the Harmony Protocol. According to a report by blockchain research company Elliptic, the subsequent money laundering technique is similar to methods previously used by North Korea’s Lazarus Group.
Tokenomics & Core Gameplay
DeFi Kingdoms lives up to its name and is, at its core, a DeFi platform with a game interface. The game, however, intends to make a legitimate attempt at gamifying DeFi. Players collect NFT heroes that they can subsequently send on quests, train into various professions and soon also use in battle.
The main interface of the game is the map. It can be navigated to reach the Gardens for example, which is the name for the liquidity pool side of the protocol. Crystalvale on Avalanche is seen as a cross-chain expansion (even aptly winter themed to pertain to the name of the blockchain it’s hosted on) with more or less the same functionalities as Serendale, the Harmony ONE world.
Before the launch of Crystalvale, players anticipated high APYs and prepared to bridge their assets, which caused a massive surge of users on the Synapse Bridge from the DK Chain sidechain (in yellow below).
8- Crazy Defense Heroes
Crazy Defense Heroes is a tower defense game with fairly traditional P2E mechanics centred around leveling up heroes and progressing through each level by surviving waves. The game is part of the wider Crazy Kings franchise and is one of the basic elements for an upcoming PC blockchain game in the same universe. This is also part of a wider trend in crypto games where different platforms aim to merge into a single metaverse in order to attract more outside TVL. Crazy Defense Heroes runs on Ethereum and Polygon. The game has enjoyed strong success as it is essentially a take on the mobile tower defense F2P genre with a lot of content and of course, a strong P2E element.
Tokenomics & Core Gameplay
Players progress through progressively difficult levels where they defend against swarms of enemies. By collecting resources through missions and getting the native TOWER token, players can upgrade their heroes, defensive structures, spells and items. These elements are represented by Cards in-game and each Card is a ERC-20 NFT with its own rarity. The core economy loop revolves around completing missions and levels to get more resources to improve the player’s deck, in order to complete even more challenging levels.
9- Solitaire Blitz
Solitaire Blitz is a different take on the classic Solitaire game, brought to the blockchain. It is powered by Joyride, a crypto gaming-focused platform centred around creators and devs. Within its first two months, the game accumulated roughly 348,000 unique users and had just over 7.6 million transactions.
Tokenomics & Core Gameplay
Every match of Solitaire Blitz grants the player XP points that allow them to level up and compete in skill-based matchmaking to win rewards in the $RLY token. The game also facilitates a variety of tournaments and special events in order to keep the players engaged in what is otherwise a hyper-casual experience.
10- Bomb Crypto
Bomb Crypto is a fairly simple P2E take on the classic Bomberman, with the in-game economy centred around the mana resource that a hero has in order to play. This is part of a wider trend in crypto games that take old video games and introduce a P2E mechanic. Bombcrypto runs on BNB and is developed by indie game dev Senspark.
Tokenomics & Core Gameplay
There are several game modes that allow the player to get more heroes, discover rewards by playing the game and even buying buildings as NFTs that help the character’s mana replenish faster. There is a story mode which is PvE, an upcoming PvP where players fight to get NFT rewards and an autoplay mode. In autoplay, the hero plays by himself and tries to discover rewards.
Main gaming blockchains
Gaming has become a definitive part of blockchain in 2021 and in 2022, it has already been responsible for being the reason why some chains have become popular or have subsided. According to the DappRadar x BGA Games Report – Q2 2022, blockchain gaming activity has skyrocketed more than 2000% from 2021 and more than 52% of blockchain activity comes from gaming dApps. Gaming is starting to mature within crypto and the applications that will have compelling gameplay will most likely keep coming out on top in the long run. It is the case for Splinterlands, which is the most active crypto game to date staying at a stable 300-400k users for the past year. The overall P2E market is estimated to grow to $218 billion by 2024.
Layer one blockchains and protocols take different approaches when it comes to growing or empowering their community. While some chains like Ethereum are so popular that developers flock to build on it, other projects like Solana or Avalanche take active measures to attract developers and even build Dapps by themselves to get the process rolling.
Worldwide Asset eXchange (WAX) is a purpose-built blockchain and protocol token designed to make e-commerce transactions faster, more user-friendly and is centred around marketplace transactions, guild participation and gaming. It has a series of blockchain-based tools upon which dApps, marketplaces, and NFTs can be built. These tools include services to support e-commerce operations such as the WAX Cloud Wallet, SSO and OAUTH, a native RNG service, and a developer portal. WAX also has a bridge to Ethereum via the WAX token, that players can use to move their assets between the two blockchains, in a similar manner to Ronin and Enjin.
WAX utilises a delegated Proof of Stake consensus (dPOS) and is compatible with EOS. This means that dApps built on EOS can be seamlessly integrated into WAX. New blocks are produced on the chain via the 21 WAX Guilds that token holders vote for and receive rewards in return. The largest game on WAX is Alien Worlds, with roughly 228.000 unique users as of August 2, 2022.
Hive was launched in March 2020 as a decentralised information sharing platform focused on social media interactions through platforms like Hive Blog. A fork of Steem, it has its own DPoS consensus-run blockchain (somewhat similar DPoS consensus as ARK or Lisk) and the platform has grown a lot due to the popularity of trading card game Splinterlands. Hive is mostly centred around creators, blogs, vlogging, and is roughly in the same area as WAX when it comes to gaming.
The developers come from the community and there isn’t a full-time team driving the project. In a similar approach to projects like BAT, Hive has a time-based monetisation model, where users and creators are rewarded the more time they spend in the chain’s ecosystem and the more content they produce therein. The largest game on Hive is Splinterlands, boasting around 185,000 users as of August 2, 2022.
Ethereum is the largest platform-focused blockchain in the world, second only to Bitcoin in terms of total market capitalisation. It has essentially started the dApp movement and still, as of April 2022, roughly 97% of all NFTs run through its network. Because so many other dApps and games run through Ethereum as well as other chains, it simply isn't possible to accurately estimate the value of all games on the network. Ethereum has a very rich history of hosting the games that served as the inspiration for today’s most played P2E games (Axie Infinity for example, which took a lot of inspiration from Crypto Kitties).
4- BNB Chain
BNB is the rebranding that resulted from combining the Binance Chain with the BSC Binance Smart Chain. BNB Chain comprises the BNB Beacon Chain (former Binance Chain), BNB Chain Governance, and the BNB Chain (formerly BSC). BNB is a massively popular exchange and overall blockchain services provider, with both the chain and the company focusing on various other avenues, such as derivatives, DeFi, NFT and gaming. Having a very simple UI, Binance is the go-to place for a lot of new crypto adopters. It has also made a strong push into gaming and becoming a launchpad for projects. The Binance Launchpad exposes projects to the entirety of the Binance ecosystem and has been quite successful in launching good projects. Some more examples to come out of the initiative have been projects like the move-to-earn dApp STEPN.
5- Harmony ONE
Launched in 2019 as a successful IEO from the Binance Launchpad, Harmony is a sharding-focused Layer 1 blockchain based on what is called an Effective Proof-of-Stake consensus. The platform was designed with dApps in mind and currently processes 2,000 TPS with 2 second finality. The project aims to scale to a million with its sharding protocol adding 500 TPS per shard. Harmony attracted plenty of media attention in late 2021 due to the massive increase in popularity of DeFi Kingdoms. The game has risen to such popularity that it has made Harmony the largest NFT Layer 1 after Ethereum. Following this success, Harmony branched out into other areas such as DeFi through lending platforms like Tranquil. With the recent expansion of DFK to the Avalanche ecosystem via the Crystalvale update, Harmony has also gotten a decent TVL transfer with what is one of the largest and most active DeFi blockchains.
Recently however, Harmony ONE has been the subject of a massive $100 million hack when the allegedly North Korean-backed Lazarus Group found an exploit in the Horizon Bridge. The implications have been far reaching for users and there are currently discussions around hard forking the original chain and minting an additional 4.9 billion ONE tokens in order to reimburse those affected.
Formerly known as MATIC, Polygon is a Layer-2 solution that launched in 2017 in order to help Ethereum scale. Polygon uses a slightly modified PoS consensus mechanism that locks in validators. The platform is very popular and currently has more than 7000 blockchain projects on it, with roughly 210 games. As an overall blockchain, Polygon is focused on solving overall scalability, transaction fees and speed for the Ethereum ecosystem. Many apps that are built on top of Polygon or that connect to it benefit from the security of Ethereum, as well as its much larger ecosystem.
Ronin is a PoS EVM-compatible sidechain that has been purpose-built for P2E games. The most famous game built on Ronin has been Axie Infinity, the game that elevated Ronin into becoming the popular blockchain it is today. One of the biggest features of the network is the Ronin bridge, which allows for asset transfers from the Ronin blockchain to the Ethereum blockchain. However, the bridge has recently been subjected to one of the biggest hacks in P2E history, when a hacker made away with $622 million by exploiting a weakness in the validator architecture. Ronin is developed by Sky Mavis.
Gala Games is a blockchain-based, P2E gaming ecosystem where players are paid GALA tokens for in-game accomplishments. Users can also trade NFTs, or the GALA tokens they’ve earned, through the game or at off-game exchanges.
Gala also functions as a game publisher and developer. Gala has a gaming platform similar to Steam or PSN called Gala Games, however it does not earn revenue the same way as their counterparts. Instead, it focuses on growing its ecosystem and introducing more active games and marketplaces for users to play and trade through, thus using the Gala platform even more. The company has opened up a second division focused solely on video game development and fun gameplay.
Enjin is an ERC-20 token-based project that, similar to Gala, is focused on being a partner to gaming studios and aims to build an ecosystem of games and marketplaces. Through NFTs, players are able to move their assets from one game to another seamlessly and use the Enjin Coin for the transactions. Enjin has its own platform that allows developers to build dApps on the platform. All together it is composed of four separate but interconnected parts – Trusted Cloud, Platform API, Wallet Daemon, and Blockchain SDKs that form the Enjin Platform.
The network also has its own wallet and has branched out into being a blockchain for the transfer of goods and services outside of video games, like real estate, for example.
Founded by Ava Labs, Avalanche is a Layer 1 blockchain designed to be a platform for dApps, running on its own consensus protocol called Snowman. The network consists of two individual blockchains and a directed acyclic graph (DAG). Avalanche has one of the largest ecosystems in DeFi and has recently been pushing into the world of Web3 gaming.
A big step forward for Avalanche was the launch of its first subnet dedicated to DeFi Kingdoms, as part of its cross-chain expansion from Harmony’s Serendale into Crystalvale. This allowed both Harmony and Avalanche to tap into each other’s user base and TVL.