NFTs have become wildly popular thanks in part because they are intriguing on so many levels. NFT games are a promising application that lets gamers own in-game items, earn money and do more with digital assets.
Game developers are working on ways to make the most of these tokens, while some gamers don't understand how NFT gaming works. Whether you're a developer or a gamer, it's worth taking the time to understand how NFTs can be used in video games and other fun settings.
What are NFT games?
These games generally function like any other, except they use non-fungible tokens in one way or another. In some cases, players can buy a non-fungible token to unlock characters, items, and power-ups. In other cases, you earn tokenized game assets by playing. Those that let players unlock NFTs are particularly exciting, as you can sell the tokens you earn to other players.
Most, if not all, NFT games interact with the blockchain or some other distributed ledger technology. The game must be built and hosted off-chain, but developers can use smart contracts to have the game recognize the contents of a player's wallet. For example, if you're playing an NFT-based role-playing game, you might buy an NFT representing a mighty knight that can be used as an in-game character. In this case, the game will likely connect to your wallet, recognize the knight's asset ID, and trigger a menu letting you select the knight as a character.
The gaming industry has yet to embrace NFTs fully. Players often react negatively when developers announce plans to add blockchain assets to traditional video games. For example, Ubisoft added game NFTs to Ghost Recon Breakpoint in 2022 but stopped releasing these in-game assets after only four months due to a lackluster response from fans.
As the name suggests, these games let players earn income as they play. Play-to-earn models generally involve earning NFTs that you can sell on the secondary marketplace. In other cases, these games have an in-game cryptocurrency you can earn by completing tasks or interacting with other players.
"Breeding," or generating new tokens, is another unique form of play to earn that’s used in the GameFi ecosystem. Breeding generally involves collecting two or more NFTs and combining them to create a new one. The breeding model can generate NFTs with unique characteristics that make them more valuable than the tokens used to create them.
What are the five most popular NFT games?
We checked with Dapp Radar, the DeFi, NFT, and gaming site, to see what NFT games are trending. Looking at them gives us a better idea at the variety of player interactions, gaming economies, and digital worlds there are to explore.
This blockchain-based game lets players collect and breed small creatures called Axies that they can sell on the secondary market. To get started, you must obtain a starter team of three Axies. You can breed your Axies to create new creatures as you level up your team. These creatures will pass some of their traits to the newly created Axies. Players strive to breed Axies with rare traits so they can sell their new creatures on the secondary market.
Despite the bear market, Axie NFT volume averages around $1.5 million daily. Players also earn AXS tokens as they play, which can be sold or used to govern the Axie Infinity project.
This game resembles a retro RPG video game and is one of the few NFT games that can interact with more than one blockchain. You can buy in-game NFTs known as "heroes" and use them to complete quests and battle other players. You'll need to use the game's native cryptocurrency, JEWEL, to buy heroes and other in-game digital assets.
The Sandbox is reminiscent of a blockchain version of Minecraft or Roblox. Players create in-game assets that can be minted as NFTs and used to develop games within the Sandbox game environment. You can monetize the assets you create and the games you build, or earn money by playing games. This exciting concept is attractive to many, as this game interacts with around 11,000 unique wallets every month.
Gamers who are fans of Magic: The Gathering or Yu-Gi-Oh are sure to enjoy Gods Unchained. This free-to-play trading card game gives players 140 free cards when they start. The cards are blockchain-based collectible items that can be sold to other players.
As you beat players in PVP battles, you earn experience and new packs of cards that can be used in your deck or sold to others.
Metaverse Miner centers around space exploration and connecting more people to the Metaverse. Players must travel to various galaxies, collecting energy and activating terminals. This game interacts with over 11,000 unique wallets each month, and the total NFT sales volume tops $8.45 million monthly.
How do NFT games make money?
NFT game developers earn money from their games in different ways. Many games charge players fees when they make in-game purchases. If the game has a large player base, these fees can add up to millions in revenue.
NFT games also earn revenue through primary NFT sales. Similar to the traditional video game industry, these games sell skins, skills, and more to their players. In some cases, game developers can even earn royalties on secondary sales of their gaming NFTs.
Can I play an NFT game for free?
Certain NFT games like Gods Unchained give you free NFTs to get started. In many cases, the NFTs you start with won't be particularly valuable. Still, you may be able to earn new NFTs by playing the game.
How do I get started?
To get started with NFT gaming, you'll first need a crypto wallet that supports NFTs. Numerous blockchains support NFT gaming, so pay close attention to the decentralized digital ledger on which the game is built. For example, Axie Infinity interacts with the Ethereum blockchain, whereas you'd need a Binance wallet to play Metaverse Miner.
Once you set up your wallet, visit the game's website and read the instructions to learn what you need to play. Some games may require you to own specific NFTs or crypto tokens before playing.
In many cases, you won't need a powerful gaming PC to play blockchain games, although some have heavier requirements. A simple fantasy football game is unlikely to require the same internet bandwidth or random access memory as an online shooter with three-dimensional assets.
Fun with NFT games
Although NFT gaming has yet to be embraced by the traditional gaming community, there are hundreds of thousands of NFT gamers interacting with various blockchain games every month. Hedera is an ideal playground for game developers, thanks to its enhanced security and low, predictable fees. Gamers are less likely to play games on chains with high transaction fees because the costs reduce their play-to-win earnings. Explore the wallets, marketplaces, and NFT projects available for use today on the open-source, public Hedera network.