As blockchain’s many sectors slowly recover from the grueling market of 2022, an unlikely industry has returned to the zeitgeist in a surprising way. Blockchain games, once considered a declining sector due to sharp declines in user numbers and controversies over exploitative tokenomics, have received a major overhaul.
During the play-to-earn era, titles like Axie Infinity dominated the headlines, spawning hundreds of copycat titles trying to ride the wave they created. However, when critics noted a severe imbalance between gameplay and monetization across the industry, gamers soon became sour for investing time and effort in blockchain games that seemed to care less about the fun of users. That perception is starting to change for the better, with kudos to a few key developers and projects.
According to research by DappRadar, the blockchain gaming industry raised $7.6 billion in venture capital investments last year and saw a 60 percent increase in the average daily number of users compared to 2021. Likewise, gaming accounted for 49 percent of all blockchain transactions in 2022, with transactions growing 3,260 percent since 2020, an undeniably impressive number given the wider industry volatility.
Such an industry turnaround would not be possible without great projects and game developers bringing creativity and fun back to blockchain games. These are our favorite blockchain games that we believe are at the forefront of reviving a thriving sector.
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Inspired by Triple-A open-world games, Illuvium blends story-driven fantasy with intense player-versus-player action. Players battle with a collection of creatures known as Illuvials that can be captured through improved game mechanics in the game.
In a universe reminiscent of Skyrim or World of Warcraft, players train their Illuvials to increase their power and fuse them into unique creature combinations. Illuvium puts player ownership first for each in-game asset through NFTs that can be owned, traded, or sold on its dedicated marketplace. In the Illuvium world, true exploration reigns supreme as players encounter quests, boss fights, and treasure hunts for the entire community to participate in. Integration with ImmutableX and the Ethereum blockchain enables instant peer-to-peer trading with no gas fees, fueling the economy gaming experience through its native ILV token. Illuvium showcases how exploration and gameplay come first to create a rich and imaginative gaming experience that operates in unison on the blockchain.
Wombat Dungeon Master
Developed by Spielworks, the veteran Web3 company behind the mobile NFT gaming app Wombat, Dungeon Master offers players the opportunity to wager NFTs to earn XP, in-game bonuses and treasures, and NFT rewards. The “clicker” style RPG follows a dungeon theme and runs on a season-based system to expand its in-game storyline and user rewards. To date, more than 3 million users have signed up, with 37,000 new players joining during the most successful season, which ended in April.
Working with $WAX and $EOS, Wombat Dungeon Master allows its 65,000 daily users to hide NFT treasures for other players to find. More than 1.5 million NFTs have been deployed to date. Gear, skins and other materials are available for users to earn crypto rewards. With Dungeon Master in open beta, the game also sets the stage for Spielworks’ extensive Dungeon World NFT gaming universe, due out later this year.
For fans of FarmVille or Harvest Moon, DeFi Land is a farming simulation game that also serves as a gateway into the world of decentralized finance. As a notoriously complex crypto sector, DeFi Land integrates well-known automated market makers, decentralized exchanges and lending protocols to allow users to explore DeFi in a fun way. Each asset in the game represents a true cryptocurrency through easy-to-understand terms. For example, sunflower represents Solana, corn represents USDC and pumpkins represent COPE.
Free play allows players to progress to a game and earn level through mini-games and other challenges to develop DeFi skills in an enhanced and fun user experience. DeFi Land’s play-and-earn model ensures that players of all skill levels can earn income while learning about decentralized finance in a meaningful way. By reaching milestones and completing tasks, players can earn DeFi Land’s native DFL token, which can be exchanged for in-game assets, NFTs, stake, liquidity, and governance votes. A mobile version of the game is currently scheduled to be released later this year to improve accessibility.
If you remember the extremely addictive Flappy Bird trend from 2013, Fancy Birds is for you, albeit with a blockchain-based twist. The first game from up-and-coming Web3 developer Fancy Studios, Fancy Birds is a mobile and web game that mirrors Flappy Bird’s side-scrolling obstacle course challenge.
The game features 8,888 randomly generated birds that users can purchase as NFTs. The game is free to launch and players can then choose to purchase a Fancy Bird NFT to gain access to advanced game features and in-game navigation perks. Completing obstacle course quests will earn users FNC tokens, which they can use to customize and power up each Fancy Bird. In addition, players can use FNC to participate in tournaments, additional game modes and even wagers. For multiplayer features, Fancy Studios has introduced Fancy Birds: Sky Wars, in which players can battle each other for rewards and perks in addition to the flagship title. The game offers an imaginative and accessible update of a popular mobile game that is neither forced nor insincere.
One of the first major uses of NFTs was in digital trading cards in professional sports. Sorare goes one step further and enters the ever-popular fantasy sports sector by developing a game where users can buy, sell and trade officially licensed player cards. The game has already partnered with some of the sport’s most prestigious leagues and personalities including the Premier League, NBA, Major League Baseball and even Serena Williams to name a few.
Each Sorare card is a unique NFT that represents a true athlete, with the NFT reflecting their performance as a player on the field. Sorare players can form five-player teams with their cards to compete in free tournaments twice a week and earn rewards. Users can play for free but have an opportunity to earn real-world rewards such as tickets, goods, ETH, and VIP experiences.
These five games are just a part of the wide variety of innovative blockchain gaming titles that have launched over the past year. Although each of them is blockchain based, they all cover different game modes, tokenomics models and niches of gamers ranging from sports fans to RPG enthusiasts. However, what they all have in common is an emphasis on easy accessibility, fun gameplay, and broad appeal to players who are not as familiar with crypto or blockchain games. With more titles and developers coming out with unique concepts and applications every day, the future of blockchain gaming looks brighter than ever.
Image by Jan Vašek from Pixabay