What Are NFT Games?
The hint is in the name – NFT games are based, to a large extent, on non-fungible tokens. Unless you lived under a rock over the past year, you are aware of the NFT craze that seemed to spring out of nowhere.
Non-fungible tokens are digital assets based on the blockchain representing the ownership of unique items. Unlike cryptocurrencies, these special tokens are non-interchangeable. Essentially, no two NFTs are quite the same. You cannot swap them like-for-like as you would a bitcoin or dollar note. This inherent quality makes them excellent for representing both physical and digital items.
So, what are NFT games? In simple terms, they are video games that incorporate these unique digital tokens. NFTs represent avatars, skins, weapons, real estate, treasure boxes, and more. NFT video games blend gaming and finance in what is now called GameFi.
In the play-to-earn model, players earn tokens and rewards for participating in quests, breeding creatures, or fighting battles. They can exchange these assets for fiat money. This contrasts with traditional games where rewards have no practical, real-world use.
Built on the Ethereum blockchain and released in 2017, CryptoKitties is one of the earliest examples of NFT video games.
How do NFT Games Work?
By now, you have gathered that NFT games go beyond simply holding NFTs in a crypto wallet. Instead, they integrate the tokens into different gaming aspects, such as rules, rewards, player interactions, and items that players can swap or spend in an NFT casino.
All these exist on the blockchain – a digitally shared, immutable public ledger. This is important because blockchain technology proves ownership of in-game assets. Furthermore, the blockchain allows holders to sell their assets in-house and in third-party marketplaces. All transactions get recorded in distributed ledgers.
To facilitate NFT game operations, developers build and deploy smart contracts – computer programs that run on the blockchain and execute automatically when predetermined conditions are satisfied. For instance, a smart contract can rule that a player gets rewarded with an NFT if a character wears a limited skin at some point within the game.
How do NFT Games Make Money?
So far, we have discussed an attractive gaming model for the players. Research from the Philipines shows that one in three persons are ready to quit their jobs to play NFT games full-time.
But what about the developers? Well, NFT games make money for their creators in various ways. The primary avenue is through transaction fees. When new players sign up on an NFT gaming platform, they pay specific fees to buy the native token or in-game assets. More players buying these resources can drive their values up – a benefit for both its holders and the developer.
Royalties from secondary sales can also be quite lucrative. When players sell their in-game assets in a marketplace, a percentage of the sales price goes to the original owner. In this case, that is the game developer or company.
The Best NFT Games: Most Popular Games
It is a booming industry right now with plenty of options. But, to stand out, the best NFT games tend to bring something different to the playing field. The entries below are the top NFT games and we will provide a simple to understand NFT gaming guide to guide you through the emerging industry.
1. Axie Infinity
This is the name that many people associate with NFT games. Axie Infinity draws inspiration from Nintendo’s Pokemon but takes that to another level with a fun and fruitful offering.
The gameplay revolves around raising and breeding cute but fierce NFT monsters called Axies and pitching them against other Axies and Chimeras to earn Smooth Love Potion (SLP) and AXS. Breeding Axies enables players to build even more powerful teams to generate more rewards.
Players can sell both cryptocurrencies on exchanges and stake AXS for future yields. In addition, since Axies are NFTs, they can be sold on in-game and external marketplaces.
To play, you must purchase three Axies to build your first team. While this did not come cheap a while ago, an NFT monster starts from a few dollars these days.
2. Gods Unchained
Gods Unchained is a wildly popular NFT game on the Ethereum blockchain. It is a fantasy trading card game that grants players complete ownership of in-game items. They can sell these NFTs on marketplaces, trade them for others, or match them against other players to accumulate decks.
In Gods Unchained, new players start with 140 free cards. Then they match up with other players in epic PVP battles. If you are familiar with regular fantasy card games, there is no steep learning curve here. The NFT feature only comes into play when a player trades cards on the marketplace. To win a game, you must drop your opponent’s life to zero, earning experience points that add up to move you up a level.
Players can buy new cards and stake them to earn rewards with the game’s native token, GODS.
3. The Sandbox
You would be right if you insist that The Sandbox is more than just a game. It is more like a creator platform with an open-world experience. This game has been way before NFTs became a thing, but gravitated towards that direction in 2018.
The Sandbox comes with a Minecraft feel. Players get a metaverse world where they can create their own experiences on digital real estate called LAND. Using VoxEdit, they can create and animate ASSETS – NFTs they can upload to and sell on the marketplace. They can also create their own GAMES to monetize and earn rewards on.
The Sandbox’s native token SAND is essential for buying in-game items on the platform’s marketplace.
4. Alien Worlds
This is another metaverse game, and it features a universe consisting of six worlds made up of 500 land plots each. Set in 2055, the players in this game are space explorers out to undertake tasks in missions and gather rewards.
Each player starts with tools they can use to mine for Trillium (TLM), the game’s token, on any of the planets. The quantity of Trillium depends on factors like the tools used and the land on which the mining is done. There are also more significant rewards to look forward to – NFTs that can come as drop rewards after a session. Apart from mining rewards, players can earn by making passive income on the lands they own and staking their tokens.
Alien Worlds features a cross-chain bridge that allows moving TLM between the Ethereum, Binance Smart Chain (BSC), and WAX blockchains.
Sorare is a football fantasy game that runs on the Ethereum blockchain. It involves players buying, selling, trading, and managing any of 227 teams in 39 leagues using NFT cards that depict real players. Some knowledge of the sport is essential here, as real-life performances by the teams will translate to how well they do in the game.
Players earn points by competing against others in tournaments and divisions to win high-valued cards. As is always the case in fantasy games, strategy plays a vital role in a team’s performance. The players in your lineup will determine how many points you win or lose.
Newbies get five cards for free when they sign on. The cards are categorized based on their rarity, with rarer cards, even of the same footballer, worth more. Climbing up the leaderboard comes with the potential to earn Ether.
While Sorare became one of the top NFT games as a soccer game, it is bridging over to baseball. The team behind the game announced a deal in May with Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association.
New NFT Games
They are not established yet, but several new NFT games are tearing up the scene and attracting many players. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Silks is not just one of the best new NFT games around; it is one of the best, period. The blockchain takes on thoroughbred horse racing launched in early 2022. In the metaverse world of Silks, there are Horses, Avatars, Lands, and Stables, each existing as NFTs.
Like Sorare, the horses in this game are based on real-life race horses. When a horse wins a race in the real world, the NFT holder receives a reward denominated in the Silk’s native token, STT. Players can build stables on purchased land to house their horses. They can also trade each of these assets in a marketplace. To earn additional rewards, players can stake their tokens.
Plant vs. Undead
Plant vs. Undead is Plants vs. Zombies with an NFT twist. The play-to-earn game borrows many aspects from the popular tower defense game. Plant vs. Undead hinges on players developing strategic plans to protect the mother tree from an army of invading undead monsters with plant farms.
As you would expect, the plants are NFTs that players can buy from the game’s marketplace. There are eight types available. Successfully positioning the plants to resist the monsters will earn players energy points or Light Energy (LE). With this, they can upgrade their plants or tools. They can also exchange the tokens for PVU tokens and trade them on cryptocurrency exchanges.
Plant vs. Undead is a BSC blockchain game requiring gamers to have compatible crypto wallets to play.
Galaxy Fight Club
If the thought of a cross-platform battle arena game with chances to earn real money excites you, then you have a winner with Galaxy Fight Club. The first NFT game of that kind will allow players to battle out PvP across PC and mobile to reap crypto and NFTs.
Think Super Smash Bros. Galaxy Fight Club incorporates interoperability, an important metaverse principle, into the game. Players from various other projects can participate and don’t even need to own NFTs from the Genesis Collection. Newbie players get an NFT fighter that they can upgrade as they play along.
Galaxy Fight Club is currently in open beta for iOS and Android users. The company promises to release it publicly later this year on PC.
Pirate X Pirate
Sliding in last on the list of the best NFT games is Pirate X Pirate, which, as its name suggests, is a pirate-themed adventure game. Players will form sea-faring fleets with capable crews and battle with other pirates for resources. The crews, ships, ship parts, and land are the in-game NFT assets.
The game offers four modes: PvP, PvE, quest mode, and adventure mode. Each of these comes with different ways for gamers to earn rewards, from defeating rivals to discovering new land while undertaking adventures. Battles are turn-based with dice rolling. Each die carries symbols to attack, evade, heal or defend, and wild or extraordinary.
For buying, selling, or trading NFTs, the game offers GOLD and PXP tokens.
Upcoming NFT Games
Illuvium is a highly anticipated project with gamers waiting for a full launch with bated breath. It is a fantasy battle and role-playing game with an open-world experience. The game will center on capturing Illuvials, creatures with different affinities and classes that live in the game’s universe, Illuvium. The captured monsters are then trained and sent into battle with other Illuvials in tournaments, events, and quests. Other players can wager on these battles.
Recently, the game’s developers offered 20,000 land plots to early comers and reserved 29 for giveaways. Ultimately, Illuvium will hold 100,000 plots of land that the owners can monetize to make extra income. For instance, they can extract fuel from the land to sell to other players.
So the Ethereum blockchain does not limit the game; the developers leveraged Immutable X, a scaling solution for gas-free transfers.
Also, a space-themed NFT game, Star Atlas, is just as anticipated as the previous entry. The metaverse-based game is built on the Solana blockchain. It is set in 2620, where players will time travel to and explore using NFT space vehicles.
There are three factions in this universe, controlled by humans, sentient androids, and aliens. A player can make an irreversible decision to join any of them and engage in combat, conquests, and domination campaigns.
Star Atlas will offer two tokens – POLIS and ATLAS when it launches. Both tokens will allow gamers to buy equipment, mine resources, and trade in-game NFT assets. In addition, POLIS will be the DAO governance token.
Pros and Cons of NFT Games
NFT games have exploded over the last year, and many now consider this the future of gaming. While this isn’t cast in stone, there are quite a few benefits that come with hopping on the bandwagon. But as with virtually everything else, it is not all roses with this genre.
- Opportunity to make real money: The first entry is obvious. NFT games of the play-to-earn model are revolutionizing the gaming industry by enabling players to collect and win assets that are not only valuable in a game’s ecosystem. Gamers can sell their crypto tokens and NFTs in marketplaces, making the gaming experience fun and financially rewarding. This is especially important in developing countries where these games are popular, with some gamers earning up to $1000 a month.
- NFT Games drive blockchain adoption: Blockchain technology may be significantly more mainstream these days than it was a decade ago, but it is still very much an emerging technology. Considering this, the influx of gamers drawn by the earning potential of NFT games is a catalyst to drive growth and adoption in the industry. Inevitably, the numbers will push other industries into harnessing the innovations and capabilities of the technology.
- Enhanced growth of the gaming community: NFT games are building on the need for community that the cryptoverse ignited. Many games build robust communities with players who cooperate in undertaking missions and split rewards. As platforms like Axie Infinity have shown, communities are just as crucial for the growth and success of a game and its developers as they are for rewarded participants.
- Paving the way for the metaverse: The metaverse is a hypothetical immersive 3D network of environments. Many industry experts and stakeholders consider it the next iteration of the internet. The metaverse and NFT gaming share several underlying technologies, and the latter’s growth will play an essential role in driving the adoption of the metaverse when it arrives.
- Value outside the game: NFT games are not the only platforms for online gamers to make money. However, they stand out because earned resources are not limited to a game’s ecosystem. An NFT or crypto reward can be sold or traded in third-party marketplaces or crypto exchanges. They can also be held in external wallets.
- Poor design and gameplay: A simple search query will bring up several tutorials teaching those interested how to go about building NFT games. This indicates that this genre is not ruled by expert or prominent game developers like traditional gaming. As a result, many games look amateurish or downright bad. And they can be just as frustrating to play.
- Takes the joy out of gaming: Money as the primary motive erodes the satisfaction that comes with gaming. While some NFT games are undoubtedly fun to play, that enjoyment will fade if a participant does not make enough money while playing.
- The high cost of entry: Many NFT games require players to shell out money to buy primary in-game assets before participating. In some cases, the prices of these assets can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars. While few people would enjoy spending so much, the value and performance of these NFTs are usually tied to their costs. So, for example, a $500 fantasy card will indeed serve a player better than one priced at $5.
- Loss of money: NFT gaming may present an avenue to make an income, but it is far from a get-rich-quick scheme. Before making significant gains, a gamer may have to play for hours or days. Even then, profits are not even guaranteed. With factors such as the cost of entry barriers and volatility in the cryptocurrency industry, some gamers lose money.
Many Games Are Free
Granted, NFT games have taken the industry by storm. But, that said, it is not difficult to accept that the adoption rate would have been even more rapid if most games did not follow a “pay-to-earn” model.
For instance, one of the biggest NFT games, Axie Infinity, requires newbies to purchase three Axies to play three. Depending on how rare or powered the characters are, they can cost thousands of dollars. Players may find potential winnings enticing, but such high entry costs discourage gamers who don’t have deep pockets.
But not all NFT video games go in that direction. Some platforms do not mandate new players to shell out any money before they can compete to earn financial rewards.
A perfect example is Gods Unchained. Even though it is one of the best NFT games available, a new player does not need to pay to start. All beginners get issued cards, but these first sets are not NFTs. Competing against other players opens up access to higher positions in the rankings and Flux, the in-game resource that helps forge duplicate cards and mint them for rewards.
Splinterlands is another free-to-earn NFT game. It uses a similar model to Gods Unchained, with new players receiving free cards that they can use to unlock more potent cards. Impatient players or those who can afford to pay for more potent cards or buy them from market sellers.
Several other NFT games like The Sandbox, Coin Hunt World, Chainmonsters, and Crypto Royale offer different iterations of the free model.
It is important to note that most free-to-earn NFT games come with a catch or two that could make them not quite as attractive. For instance, there could be hidden charges. In addition, many starter packs are the bare minimum and inefficient tools for winning battles or matchups and completing quests. As a result, players may be forced to spend money to upgrade themselves to make significant headway.
Types of NFT Games
There are different types of NFT games. Note that they are not mutually exclusive – a single game can cut across various categories.
1. Land Ownership NFT Games
These days, investing in virtual land is very much in vogue. Many metaverse-based NFT games offer real estate within the game, serving as blank slates for players to create. Lands are NFTs that a player can monetize through renting, developing, or selling. Popular examples include Axie Infinity, The Sandbox, and Decentraland.
2. Battle NFT Games
If you are a fan of open battle arenas and conquering territories, then you would prefer this type of NFT game. Here, a player collects, breeds, and trains armies, while devising and implementing strategies to invade or stop invading hordes.
3. NFT Card Games
Trading card games are a dominant category within the NFT gaming genre. Most of these games allow you to collect and unlock more powerful cards as you go along. As a result, you can create formidable decks and match them up against others in PvP or other modes. The best NFT games involving cards include Gods Unchained, Splinterlands, Sorare, and Skyweaver.
4. Mobile NFT Games
Maybe you want to fish for rewards on the go. No problem. While most of the earlier NFT games were built with computers in mind, there are several options compatible with mobile devices these days. They include Reward Hunters, Farmers World, and Monsta Infinite.
5. Animal NFT Games
From cringe apes to cute little penguins, animals have played a prominent part in the NFT craze. They are not left out in NFT games. One of the earliest releases to make a buzz, CryptoKitties, allowed players to breed, own, and trade adorable virtual cats.
Ownership of In-Game Assets
Much of the satisfaction from playing games comes from the rewards that follow. They could be moving up a level or assuming ownership of an in-game resource or asset. But, of course, you can also get assets by just buying them.
In traditional games, these assets are locked within the game. So immediately you log out, they have no practical uses. Not so with NFT video games, where the confines of the platform do not limit the player.
Player ownership of in-game assets removes them from the control of the developer. The immutable records of the blockchain make this possible, powered by permissionless protocols.
Interoperability is another interesting derivative. The digital asset owners can move their content to other games and ecosystems and use them there.
Exchange In-Game Currency for Real Money
Most NFT games have in-game currencies that power the activities, just as cash would in the real world. For instance, Axie Infinity offers both SLP and AXS to create and breed characters and activate trades.
To convert it into money you can use, you can sell or swap the token on a crypto exchange, such as Coinbase. Note that this only works if the exchange lists it. You can also convert it to a stablecoin like USDT or established tokens like bitcoin.
Gaming Outcomes are Fair and Transparent via Blockchain Technology
Two things: the blockchain is a public ledger, and NFTs are built on the blockchain. It then follows that transactions involving NFTs can be verified on the blockchain.
This is not the case with traditional games, which exist on centralized servers. When playing those games, you must trust the developers to keep outcomes fair. The application of immutable agreements – smart contracts – in NFT games guarantees that all outcomes are honest and transparent.
NFT Games on iOS & Android
Here are some of the best NFT games available on the two major smartphone operating systems.
- Axie Infinity
- Farmers World
- Plant vs. Undead
- Spells of Genesis
- Reward Hunters
- Crypto Shooter
NFT Games Future Industry
NFT games usually offer exciting ways for players to make money while having fun. But there is a whole lot more to it than that. For instance, it harnesses emerging technology and concepts like NFTs, cryptocurrency, blockchain, decentralization, and the metaverse. All of these will play vital roles across industries in the future.
Despite its impressive performance, NFT gaming is still in its nascent stage. With several new titles set for launch in the near future, there is so much more to look forward to. Sorare’s partnership with Major League Baseball offers a glimpse. Will NFT games replace traditional games? Unlikely. But as Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said, the landscape “is changing with lots of new revolutions happening.” This revolution is now staking a claim in the industry.
Yes, you can. The play-to-end model of NFT games rewards users for the time spent playing and impressive performances. In addition, they can earn income by collecting resources and assets within the game that they can sell to make money. Rewards can also come in native tokens, cryptocurrencies that hold value. Another method is staking, locking rewards in smart contracts to yield more in the future.
For one, NFT games grant players ownership of their rewards instead of the developer, a sharp contrast to how regular games work. They are also important for adopting technologies that bring innovation and positive disruption to industries.