With the recent emergence of blockchain games, we have seen exponential growth in popularity followed by a slight decrease in demand. As of now, crypto gaming remains a popular yet unexplored industry that has still to reach its full potential. It’s safe to say that blockchain-based games have a lot in common with the immensely prominent mobile gaming industry (some big names include Roblox, Candy Crush Saga, and Pokemon Go).
The question stands clear: do the so-called ‘play-to-earn’ games have future potential? In this article, we will talk about the similarities and differences in mobile and crypto game development as well as mention several top blockchain games with the most significant player count in 2022.
What is blockchain gaming?
Blockchain is a distributed ledger technology and the powerhouse behind cryptocurrencies. The emergence of blockchain technology has opened up a world of new possibilities for digital economies. The opportunity to enter new marketplaces has not been overlooked by game developers. Hence, we have seen a grand number of emerging web3 gaming projects in the last few years.
Blockchain games, also known as crypto games and P2E (play-to-earn), often incorporate such elements as smart contracts and non-fungible tokens (NFTs). This way, players receive a higher degree of power as well as new opportunities and experiences to try out.
The majority of crypto games have built-in marketplaces, where users can purchase and trade digital assets, e.g. avatars, loot items, weapons, clothes, and plots of land. In most cases, these digital assets have real-world tangible value. Unlike ‘traditional’ gaming, players do not need a third party to verify these virtual items.
Some web3 games store encrypted data on the blockchain itself, whereas other platforms deploy digital money and NFTs and do not rely on the blockchain economically. The open-source model, nevertheless, makes it impossible to alter transaction data, recorded on the chain, without reaching a consensus with the community.
Let’s cover the main features of crypto gaming. First and foremost, blockchain-based games provide a high level of transparency and make it possible for players to have full control over their purchased in-game assets. In addition, gamers can use and trade their items across multiple interoperable markets.
Blockchain games enable limitless creativity for developers and a much more fair experience for players. In most cases, it is the users who take part in the decision-making processes regarding the game’s future dynamics.
That being said, the crypto gaming industry is still in its early stages of development, and it’s hard to escape the criticism, which comes from overly simplistic gameplay and nascent creator & player capabilities.
What is the parallel between the mobile and crypto gaming industries?
Currently, mobile gaming is a prominent and fast-growing industry; however, it has not always been this way. In its earliest days of emergence, few believed that mobile games could generate big revenue numbers. Let’s look back at games circa 2005 - minimalist design, lacking graphics, difficult to control.
Here’s when many old schoolers could bring up the classic example, Nokia’s “Snake”, where the player would need to maneuver a line and eat apples to make the snake an obstacle to its growing self. Undoubtedly, there was not much to desire; nevertheless, it was the same “Snake” that kickstarted the profitable mobile gaming industry.
This year alone, mobile gaming is expected to reach $152.50bn in revenue with a potential of $221.70bn by 2027.
Not only do we see progressive revenue growth, but we also can point out that the narrative around the industry is being redefined by both experts and actual players.
Hence, some experts choose to remain positive around the emerging blockchain gaming industry, which has already created a new shift in the ‘traditional’ paradigm. During the Covid-19 pandemic, a popular P2E game Axie Infinity made headlines when it became a significant source of income for many players around the world with the introduction of NFTs and other types of crypto-backed assets, which could be traded for real-world money.
Unfortunately, when the bear market kicked in, the majority of web3 games failed to provide successful economic measures to the fanbase and lost a large number of player count, with many calling P2E a ‘fad’.
The future of blockchain games
When comparing mobile and crypto gaming industries, many analysts stand by the decision that the recent events should not define the future of the blockchain-based industry. Mobile gaming has gone through its ups and downs as well.
Let’s go back to Nokia’s “Snake”: the mobile game became such a big success that it managed to take up 51% of the global market share by 2007 only to experience a significant drop in popularity with the introduction of the first iPhone. A general user now wanted a much more complex graphics design compatible with a touch screen and less battery life. Not being able to withstand the changes, the Nokia mobile phone business was eventually bought by Microsoft in 2014.
Today, in addition to being a well-known mobile game, “Snake” brings a sense of nostalgia to many hardcore players. “Snake” did, in fact, help to shape the mobile gaming industry; however, it did not define its entire potential. That is to say, blockchain games, as we know them today, are likely to go through a similar road of ups and downs, with new offerings and opportunities arising along the way.
Best blockchain games to play in 2022
Despite experiencing turbulent times, crypto games remain popular among a large number of players. Besides, the ongoing development of blockchain technology helps to improve the overall UX. Let’s take a quick look at several examples of the best-performing blockchain games, at the time of writing. The list is based on DappRadar.
Alien Worlds is a blockchain game centered around planetary worlds, where users compete for Trilium (TLM) - a scarce resource they need to find. The platform in itself is an NFT metaverse, where players can select NFT game cards and use them for completing missions and, therefore, staking, mining, and other activities, such as participation in DAO. Besides, users can teleport TLM (Trilium) between BNB Chain, WAX, and Ethereum.
Splinterlands is a collectible trading card game built on the Hive Blockchain. This multiplayer game lets players put in the most optimal seven-card deck to fight against opponents. The storyline follows participants into a mysterious world. Splinterlands is free to try; however, players won’t be able to earn rewards in the free mode. Via built-in marketplaces PeakMonsters, MonsterMarket, and CardAuctionz, users can buy, sell and bid in-game assets.
Built on the WAX blockchain, Farmers World is the first-of-its-kind NFT game based around farming activities. The gameplay lets users engage in building farms, selling and mining NFTs, trading on marketplaces, competing with other players, etc. To start playing the game, players should connect to their WAX wallet. There are different kinds of farming tools that directly affect the potential income a user could get. As many point out, Farmers World is easy and fun to play.
Animoca Brands’ Benji Bananas is a free-to-play mobile game, with over 50 million downloads, that has successfully entered the blockchain market. Users can purchase a Benji Bananas Membership Pass to access the P2E mode and start trading NFTs. The game’s special tokens can be traded for ApeCoin as well. The point of the game is to make Benji the Monkey jump through the jungle and collect bananas. By collecting more bananas, Benji could get upgrades and power points, and compete with other players.
X World Games
Created by Singapore developers, X World Games (XWG) aims to build the next-generation gaming metaverse with full decentralization. In the game, users can purchase a piece of land in the form of an NFT and earn profits depending on the volume of players in the slot. XWG wants to make blockchain gaming fun, easy and accessible even for non-crypto players. Other game features include Dream Card, Dream Idols, HEro Card, NFT Marketplace, and DeFi Pool.
The industry of crypto gaming is undoubtedly a promising one. With technological developments and enhancements improving the quality of gameplay and making the P2E experience less risky day by day, more players could jump on the trendy bandwagon. The future is yet to be seen, therefore many experts stay hopeful that blockchain-based games have a prospect of evolving into something much more exponential, even when compared to mobile games, which, in theory, are much more limited in their capacity.