Gaming is growing faster than ever before. The gaming industry is currently valued at $173 billion, with very positive indicators showing that it will surpass the $300 billion mark in the next five years. Behind this boom is a recent surge in new players, especially in mobile platforms, which have made gaming a more practical and easily accessible experience for the estimated 2.6 billion gamers worldwide.
But for many, being online just for fun is no longer their primary driver. As the saying goes, time is money and players have certainly taken notice that they're making a big investment in virtual experiences with little return. So they’ve started looking for ways to monetize their hobby. However, beyond the world of eSports, there haven't even been many opportunities for casual players to cash in on the effort they put into gaming - until now.
The rise of blockchain games has turned the tables on the gaming industry by making players, and not developers, the main financial decision-makers.Play-to-earn (P2E) crypto gaming is a trend that shouldn't be overlooked. But before we get into the details, it's worth understanding how it all works.
What are blockchain games?
Blockchain is a form of ledger technology that functions as a recording and storing system for information and it can’t be hacked, tampered with or otherwise altered. A network's transaction history is, in principle, publicly available. Blockchain powers cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin and Ethereum, opening a world of possibilities across virtual economies - and game developers have certainly realized the potential.
Typically, most games will have marketplaces where users can purchase and exchange items, like weapons, avatars and loot boxes. But they might not own any of it, even if they paid real money for it. That's because for most of gaming history, developers followed a centralized model which means that they've had full control over game dynamics, from the storyline to the game assets collected by players. Since it's all owned by one entity, players have no real ownership of their accounts and items. There are also other limitations associated with this model, including lack of transparency and potential for manipulation of game mechanics.
Blockchain introduced for the first time decentralized and fair virtual markets, where players have a real say as gaming companies no longer have total control over the entire gaming experience. The potential of blockchain in gaming extends beyond powering virtual economies:
Real ownership: blockchain-based games enable players to have real ownership and full control over their in-game assets. Assets are typically represented by unique non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
Metaverses and interoperability: by linking in-game assets blockchain tokens, players can trade them across different game markets hosted on the blockchain.
Fair experience: blockchain enables the creation of open, distributed, and transparent ecosystems. Players and not gaming companies are in charge of game dynamics, and gamers can vote in favor of changes. This also prevents cheaters from spoiling the experience.
Unlimited creativity: when a game runs on a centralized server, the developers can decide to shut it down at any time. With blockchain, players can continue playing a game even if the developers are no longer involved, and organically grow games with new narratives and assets.
In 2017, the game CryptoKitties became the leading driver of this revolution by allowing users to buy, sell, and create different kinds of virtual kittens in the form of NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, which turn each virtual kitten into a unique, collectible digital asset. The rarer the kitten, the higher the value it holds (the most expensive Cryptokitten was sold for $172,000).
This kickstarted a thriving virtual market that has since extended to many other titles.
Can you earn money from blockchain games?
As mentioned, there are two features that make blockchain games unique: the integration of cryptocurrencies, which are used for in-platform payments, and the use of NFTs. NFTs are a significant step forward as they allow users to own unique assets that can be traded with other players within the same game or transferred between platforms. And much like in real-life economies, you can make money from marketplaces inside blockchain games.
The most dedicated players can earn tangible rewards for their creations, while those with artistic inclinations can design and sell collectible items. The potential is immense and game developers are only just getting started.
And some have entered the world of gaming just to become investors, while others have made it their full-time occupation.
How to get started with blockchain games?
So if you're convinced by what you've read so far, it's time to roll up your sleeves and get this going. Let's break it down: first off, you'll need a computer or mobile device. Easy enough, right? Then you'll have to pick a cryptocurrency exchange platform to convert your money into, well, cryptocurrency. There are plenty of exchanges available, but the important thing is to choose one that fits your needs. Also, you might want to consider purchasing Ether since the majority of crypto gaming is based on the Ethereum blockchain. Ok, so now that you've got some Ether, what will you do with it? The same you'd do with physical money - find a place to store it and keep it safe. This is where you'll have to open a digital wallet, and again, there are lots of options to choose from. From here, all that's left to do is pick a game to play. And you're all set.
Top Blockchain Games 2021
When compared to the traditional gaming industry, blockchain gaming is still very much a niche. But that isn't to say that can be scoffed at. While still a small parentage of the whole segment, there are now hundreds of crypto games and they're slowly racking up millions of players (and a whole lot of money).
So here's a quick look at the movers and shakers of the crypto gaming scene:
The undisputed king of all crypto games, Axie Infinity has taken NFTs to a stratospheric level. Described by some as a Pokemon-like experience, this game is populated by Axies (or digital creatures), with each being an NFT. Players can buy, exchange and breed Axies, and also used them to battle other players or teams in seasonal tournaments. Rare Axies can be worth thousands of dollars and a plot of virtual land recently sold for $1.5 million. What sets Axie Infinity apart from other gaming platforms is its booming virtual economy, where in-game tokens — Smooth Love Potion (SLP) and Axie Infinity Shard (AXS) - are seeing massive gains (of up to 5,700% as of recently). And unlike other big-name players, Axie also encourages players to cash out. Finally, AXS can be converted to Ether or fiat. The game has been a particular hit in some countries, particularly in the Philippines, where players have gone from making it a side hustle to a full-time occupation.