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NFTs are a rapidly growing industry. However, it’s still arguably in its infancy. Namely, the entire market cap of all NFTs is still just $7 billion.
That’s why many NFT investors are looking for catalysts, something that can boost the industry. Many are betting that video games will be that catalyst. Specifically, metaverse games!
NFTs and video games are a match made in heaven. For one, gaming is a vast industry – about $175 billion. Just the in-game items are worth some $40 billion! Contrast that to the $7 billion market cap of all NFTs in existence.
Moreover, NFTs solve a complex problem for gaming – that of owning digital assets. More and more games allow users to buy in-game items for their characters, whether functional or cosmetic. So, naturally, these items can become NFTs. As NFTs, users can resell, loan their items or even transfer them outside the game.
Games and NFTs
Games can become a boon for NFTs in other ways as well. In particular, NFTs are still predominantly about collectables. So games can create demand for these collectables – and boost their price.
For some games, this works long after the game’s heyday. For example, Collectables like baseball cards or trading cards get their value due to their link to childhood experiences. It is important to note that the demand for trading cards originally came because of their use in card games.
However, their prices don’t have to be tied to their use value as in-game items. They can also become prised collectables. That’s because games are fun – and people like to remember fun things. NFTs, of either in-game items, game art or other, can remind them of the fun they had. This nostalgia factor can boost the price of these NFTs by a lot.
In fact, in 2021, the prices of most trading cards surged due to demand from collectors. But, on the other hand, players were not very happy with that, as they had to pay more for the cards they wanted.
Games, if they are good – can boost demand for collectables, NFTs included. Yet, some NFT gaming projects show more promise than others.
In terms of blockchain games, CryptoKitties was the catalyst for it all. The game launched in 2017 as the first game on the Ethereum blockchain. As unlikely as that may sound, it was also the first use case for the most prominent innovative contract network.
The game itself is relatively simple. Users with two “Kittie” NFTs could breed them – or make new ones. Not remarkable. Still, the game became so popular that it soon brought the Ethereum network to its knees. People were breeding soo many of these cute NFTs that they caused severe network congestion. Specifically, pending transactions on Ethereum increased sixfold.
The game was so successful that it even inspired many copycats. The copycats typically swap cats for other animals or do some other slight change. However, it also inspired other projects that add value to the original. For example, KittyHats lets users give hats to their own Crypto Kitties. The game also inspired others with a “breeding” feature in their own NFT project.
CryptoKitties showed that a blockchain game doesn’t have to be complex to become famous. It was fun, and it had a strong community. Moreover, its NFTs were valuable, giving people the incentive to breed them for money. Still, the game had the advantage of being the first in the space. That advantage is probably the reason why CryptoKittie NFTs will likely hold their value for some time.
Another famous project is the game Axie Infinity. The game started in 2018, reaching 2 million daily active users. Unlike most games, Axie Infinity markets itself as a play-to-earn game. As a result, the game is viral in the Philipines, where a promise of making money online draws in many players.
However, they need to make a substantial investment to get access to that opportunity. First, players need to create a Ronin Crypto Wallet and deposit WETH crypto. Then, they need to buy three Axis to play with. Namely, the cheapest Axis go for about $75, while the more expensive ones can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
However, players can also get “Axie scholarships” – where they play with Axies belonging to other players. The owners of the Axis can, in turn, get a cut from their earnings. While players make money in the game, it won’t pay for everyone. Early adopters received a large windfall, but most were not as lucky. Reports show that a typical Axie player earns less than the Philipines minimum wage or $7.03 per day.
Still, skilled and strategic players can earn more. Players can also make passive income by accumulating Axies and giving out Axie scholarships. If the game becomes more extensive, they might also gain Axie appreciation.
Axie Success – $2.3 Million Digital Realestate Deal
The game’s traffic creates demand for Axie NFTs. Since each Axie is unique, they are also technically non-fungible tokens or NFTs. Once bought, users can transfer them to their digital wallets. Like in the case of CryptoKitties, users can breed their Axies, creating new ones. Axies can also appreciate. The most expensive Axie was Axie #265, sold for 300 ETH. That’s today’s equivalent of $1,1 million.
But that’s not the only way in which the game integrates NFTs. For example, players can also buy and sell land, which is also unique NFTs. Recently, game devs reported that an in-game piece of real estate sold for over $2.3 million.
However, players (and “investors”) should beware. As with all game economies, they rely on people playing the game for fun. When players that play for income start to dominate, the opportunity becomes less attractive.
A quick survey of forum sites shows that most players are not in it for fun. Instead, players describe the game as bland, repetitive, grindy and frustrating. Many would not play if it weren’t for the financial incentive.
That is a problem for the game. Without players in it for fun, the in-game economy will inevitably start to unravel. Once this happens, play-to-earn players will start leaving the game as well. This, in turn, could severely impact all digital assets in the Axie universe.
Like similar online multiplayer games, Decentraland brings the community into the focus of gameplay. The play opened to the public in 2020, after five years of development. Drawing inspiration from games such as Second Life, Decentraland is all about self-expression.
It allows users to customize their avatars and interact with other players. In addition, users claim a digital passport to manage their identity when making their avatars.
The game makes excellent use of NFT tech. For example, users can buy NFTs to customize their characters with clothes and other accessories.
Furthermore, NFTs also let players buy digital land. Decentraland calls this digital land, LAND. And LAND may be an attractive investment, as in-game land is finite. But, what is more, do users who buy land in the game own it permanently?
LAND prices will vary depending on their proximity to in-game resources and player hubs. Moreover, users have to buy LAND and customizations with MANA tokens. These tokens are Decentraland’s currency, and they work on the Ethereum network.
Like the user avatars, players who own the land can fully customize the look of their estate, what it will display content and interactive apps. This puts the users in charge of how the game will look.
This attracts serious investors, such as the Metaverse Group, which invests in digital real estate. The group bought a parcel of LAND for $3.2 million.
For players and content creators
The customization potential does not end there. Developers can use scripting to create in-game apps, minigames and 3D scenes.
Likewise, the scripting language supports the creation of objects, platform physics, and even sound development. Developers can use the ATLAS tool to navigate various districts with themes to find the best locations for their next project.
For example, content creators can create billboards in high traffic districts to promote their work. This, in turn, makes the opportunity for Decentraland to engage in virtual tours and even opens the possibility of virtual education.
However, like with other metaverse games, there’s little focus on gameplay. Many new users complain about a lack of gameplay for new players. They also complain about paying upwards of $500 to do anything interesting in the game. For now, that is buying land to develop.
Developers will have to focus more on experiences outside the land building to draw in more players. However, there certainly is potential for the game.
As Decentraland offers players to customize their parcels of land, Sandbox goes one step further. It lets users create and customize whole virtual worlds and economies.
Initial developers released the platform in 2012 on mobile. However, the game took a different direction sinceAnimoca Brands acquired it in 2018.
The game then took on its current voxel-style graphics similar to Minecraft and Roblox. Sandbox is now a blockchain game with a focus on earning.
Players of Sandbox can fully monetize their created world using blockchain and NFT technology. Similar to Decentraland, Sandbox uses the Ethereum blockchain.
Like Decentraland, Sandbox places the platform in the hands of its users and creators. This means players build their worlds independently of the main devs. Like in the case of Decentraland, this includes owning and selling land.
Creators in Sandbox use the VoxEdit 3D modelling software to create voxel assets. Users can then also choose to animate their new creations.
In the Game mode, players experience the Metaverse of Sandbox, engaging with each other and using their acquired or created assets.
Furthermore, users can then sell, buy or trade their voxel assets on the Sandbox Marketplace. As a result, thousands of different assets are available to potential creators.
To get their assets and LAND, players use the SAND token. Like MANA of Decentraland, SAND is also based on the Ethereum blockchain. However, the platform takes 5% from each transaction.
Fully Decentralized by 2023?
On the flip side, users can vote on significant updates based on how much SAND they have. That could change in the future, as Sandbox wants to go completely decentralized.
The platform aims to become 100% decentralized and player-owned by 2023. Sandbox aims to achieve this by using a DAO protocol. In short, DAO is a Decentralized Autonomous Organization, and this means every major decision on the platform is entirely in the hands of its users.
For now, the developers are spearheading the project with huge partnerships. This includes Adidas, Binance, “The Walking Dead”, and rapper and crypto fanatic Snoop Dogg.
The game’s Alpha version came out in November 2021. In terms of gameplay, it offers some elements that other games do. Namely, the game offers quests, which are also a way to earn SAND tokens.
The unique design of the game’s assets ties all the elements together. That’s why Sandbox feels like an actual game rather than a virtual lobby.
While it is still too early to tell, Sandbox has excellent potential. But, ultimately, its success will depend on the gameplay the devs and the community can provide.