Blockchain-based gaming applications have seen a significant surge in popularity over the course of this year. As per a report by the Blockchain Game Alliance, over 804,000 unique active users connected to blockchain-based games in the month of July. The play-to-earn business model is gaining attention not only within the industry, but also from the mainstream.
The spectacular rise in the interest surrounding NFTs (Non Fungible Tokens) can be considered to be the tailwind which has fuelled this growth. NFTs have been around for a few years now, but seem to have caught the imagination of both private enterprises and the public with a renewed vigour.
While a host of blockchain based games are using NFTs today as part of their gameplay experience, a few stand out among the crowd in terms of their ingenuity.
Here we take a look at 3 Play-to-Earn Blockchain Games to watch out for in 2021. Be warned, you might just get addicted to these games for life.
TradeStars is a decentralized Fantasy Sports Stocks trading platform built on the Ethereum blockchain. The price of the Fantasy Stocks is directly influenced by the real life performance statistics of the sportsperson they represent, which makes the stock trading experience even more exciting.
TradeStars has been conceptualized as a NASDAQ for Fantasy Sports Stocks, which are issued as NFTs on Ethereum. Similar to creating a portfolio of stocks of listed companies, players can create a portfolio of Fantasy Sports Stocks.
When an athlete exhibits stellar performances in real-life matches, the demand for their Stock tends to increase, which simultaneously drives up the Stock price as well. The earlier a user can identify and purchase Stocks of upcoming players who show more potential to excel, the greater the return on investment that can be enjoyed.
The Fantasy Stocks can be traded using TSX, an ERC-20 token which is the in-game currency. TSX also entitles holders to various other benefits, such as participating in the platform governance, earning a portion of the platform revenue, getting first access to limited edition NFTs, and so on.
Rather than representing each unique athlete through a single NFT, TradeStars uses the concept of Fractional NFTs to create ‘NFT Markets’ for each athlete. These NFT Markets make it possible for buyers and sellers to purchase or sell any amount of Fantasy Stocks as they want, including fractions.
NFT Markets significantly enhance the liquidity offered for the Fantasy Stocks, and simultaneously provides buyers the flexibility to invest exactly as much money as they want. This is in stark contrast to other existing gaming platforms which implement NFTs, where players are forced to purchase each NFT asset in its entirety, however high the cost might be.
Although TradeStars’ Mainnet ‘Olympic Torch’ has been deployed on Ethereum, the DApp uses Polygon Network’s Layer 2 scaling solution to move and settle transactions off-chain. This makes transactions on TradeStars almost instantaneous and gasless, and ensures that the user experience remains world-class irrespective of network traffic.
The Sandbox is a decentralized fantasy gaming platform (or metaverse, to be precise) on the Ethereum blockchain developed by TSB Gaming, a former subsidiary of leading game developer Animoca Brands. Players can interact with virtual objects and with the digital avatars of other players inside the Sandbox metaverse.
Two of the most important gameplay components inside the Sandbox universe are ‘LAND’ and ‘ASSET’. LAND is a unit of digital estate inside the Sandbox metaverse, while ASSETs are in-game items which can be created by the players themselves. A total of 166,464 LANDs will ever be available, and together they form the complete Sandbox metaverse.
Players can buy these LANDs and populate them with ASSETs to create various digital experiences. They can then monetize their LANDs by inviting other players to visit them and enjoy the various content that they offer, or simply by renting them. Multiple LANDs can be combined to form an ESTATE.
The players can also convert the ASSETs into NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens), and trade them with other players in the NFT marketplace. The Sandbox also enables players to create their own games within its ecosystem, without requiring any sort of coding background.
The Sandbox ecosystem consists of 3 main components:
- VoxEdit – a 3D animation software used to create voxel (3D equivalent of pixel) ASSETS, which can then be issued as NFTs on Ethereum and traded on the Marketplace.
- Marketplace – a decentralized marketplace for buying and selling the ASSETS (NFTs) that have been created using VoxEdit.
- Game Maker – a visual scripting tool that allows users to build and deploy 3D games experiences on their LANDs without any coding knowledge.
SAND is the main utility and governance token of The Sandbox. An ERC-20 token, SAND is used to access the game features, purchase LAND(s), and trade NFT ASSET(s). The transactions themselves are rendered almost instantaneous and gasless through the use of ERC-1776 standard. SAND holders can also participate in platform governance, staking, and liquidity mining schemes.
Axie Infinity is a virtual collectible and play-to-earn game developed by Vietnam-based startup Sky Mavis on the Ethereum blockchain. The collectibles are fantasy creatures known as ‘Axie’s, which are issued as NFTs on Ethereum.
The core gameplay of Axie Infinity is inspired by Pokémon, the popular Japanese media and gaming franchise. Similar to Pokémon, Axie infinity allows players to create a team of 3 Axies with various skills, which can be used to battle against either virtual opponents or actual players. New players require at least 3 Axies to participate in battles.
Players can use teams and formations in the Adventure mode to join tournaments and battle monsters in Lunacia, which is the Axie Infinity kingdom. They can also compete against other real-life players in the Arena mode. Winners are rewarded through Small Love Potion (SLP), an ERC-20 token of the Axie ecosystem which is used for breeding Axies.
The Axies are issued as NFTs through the in-game breeding mechanics (similar to CryptoKitties). NFT minting ensures that each Axie is created with a unique set of features and skills, making each Axie one of its kind and non-duplicable. Apart from the Axies, the game also features virtual land and gameplay items minted as NFTs.
Players can purchase Axies from the Axie Marketplace or breed them by pairing existing Axies. These digital monsters can be stored in the user’s personal wallet or transferred to other Ethereum addresses. The Axies can also be sold on the Marketplace, where Axies with rare features can command quite a price.
Breeding of Axies requires transaction fees to be paid in ETH, which can be excessively high at times. Sky Mavis is currently creating an Ethereum linked sidechain called Ronin, which should significantly reduce the burden of transaction fees.
Apart from SLP, players can also earn Axie Infinity Shard (AXS) tokens during gameplay. AXS is the governance token of the ecosystem and will allow holders to have a voice in the development of the platform. Both SLP and AXS are listed on cryptocurrency exchanges.
Blockchain technology is introducing new possibilities in the gaming sector which were unimaginable up until now. While in-game objects earlier existed only within the gaming environment, players today have complete ownership over such assets and can store them in their personal “wallets”. Moreover, rewards earned during the gameplay, which were earlier of any value only during the gameplay itself, can now be encashed into actual money.
With metaverses booming and new innovations like Fractional NFTs coming to the fore, the stage is set for a massive expansion of the play-to-earn gaming industry. Put on your seatbelts, the ride has just begun and there’s a long journey ahead of us.