2021 is the year of the NFT video game. NFTs, including digital art, GIFs, and even music, have been popular in the marketplace for a little while now. However, NFT video games are slowly proving themselves to be the next evolutionary step in how we consume content.
What Is an NFT?
An NFT is a digital good that cannot be copied, and ownership of it can be verified. On a coding and monetary level, these digital items are a unique addition to video games in that they give more control of game items to the user.
Bitcoin was the beginning of what we know as cryptocurrency today. The point of cryptocurrency is that it’s decentralized and is not tied to any particular bank or country. So, what does this actually mean?
Cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin, is basically digital coins with serial numbers and can only be attained by either buying and trading or mining them. Crypto mining requires powerful computers that solve complex mathematical equations to get the coins.
There are a limited number of Bitcoins available right now and in the future. A little over 83% of all Bitcoins have been mined so far. So, how does Bitcoin have any value? Regular currency is either backed by a government or by a precious material like gold.
Cryptocurrency is a little more complicated. In short, it’s valuable because people believe it’s valuable. Its scarcity is entirely artificial, but it’s impossible to fake and is admittedly useful. This isn’t the first time something has been hyped up to be valuable in the future, though.
Collectables, like Beanie Babies, have complicated histories with rises and falls in perceived value. The key difference is that silly consumer products don’t have the same type of utility as cryptocurrency.
Cryptocurrency can’t really be messed with, thanks to something called a blockchain. A blockchain is a kind of digital ledger that cross-references information to ensure the right people have the right number of Bitcoins.
The ledgers are available to the public, so all transactions and accounts are public knowledge. The ledger cannot be altered or erased. This is why cryptocurrency works and why some people trust it. It’s an interesting concept that has gained a lot of steam over the last ten years.
So, if Bitcoins and other types of cryptocurrency are essentially digital coins with artificial value and serial numbers that are constantly checked and confirmed by an internet-based ledger, what are NFTs?
NFT stands for “Non-Fungible Token.” Non-fungible means that there is only and cannot be replaced. NFTs come in all kinds of forms like pictures, GIFs, and even music. Some of the most popular NFTs right now are in the form of sports highlights and art, and NFT collections are becoming ever more popular.
An NFT’s unique code is a fraction or piece of an individual denomination of cryptocurrency. The reason people are currently really excited and buying lots of NFTs for crazy amounts of money is that they believe these digital products will gain in value.
Artists are finding the NFT craze overall very beneficial to the industry. NFTs are a way for artists to create and sell digital “originals.” It’s a very new and strange concept because anyone can copy and paste these digital collectibles, but only one person actually “owns” them. The value of the NFT collection of an owner can become quite high.
What Are NFT Games?
NFT games are video games that allow for NFTs to be integrated into the game design. How does this work? Video games are walled gardens where things like weapons, armor, and in-game collectibles are earned or traded for in those particular games and cannot transfer to other games. They’re usually based in either Ethereum or Binance Smart Chain (BSC).
In-game items usually have depreciating values considering how player bases move onto other titles and can’t freely transfer that item like a real-world asset. NFT technology changes this rule.
NFT items that are compatible with certain games can enable players to take their NFT items across games and developers, and it has to be built into the infrastructure. Say you played an MMO for months and earned a rare, magical sword.
In a traditional videogame, you can’t take that sword and play with it in another game like your favorite FPS (aka First Person Shooter game). If that same MMO and FPS are both NFT compatible, you can take that sword to the FPS, and it will manifest itself in a way that is unique to each game it’s compatible with.
The developers of the NFT compatible games choose how your magical sword is manifested. That FPS you play may interpret your sword NFT as an emblem you can apply to your character. A developer that makes a digital trading card game might interpret your sword as a really powerful card by the same image and name.
Another interesting byproduct of this concept is that your valuable, unique NFTs and items that you earn, trade, or buy don’t disappear if your account on any particular game is deleted or banned. Your NFTs remain in your wallet no matter what game you take them to, and they maintain their scarcity.
NFT Games of 2021
Although NFT games have been around for a few years, they have really made a lasting impression and bolstered their user bases in just this past year. Most can be played by mobile users on both Android and iOS.
Have you ever played online card games like HearthStone that play similar to physical card games like Magic the Gathering? What if there was an online trading card game that allowed you more ownership of the cards you collect like real cards?
That game is Gods Unchained, lead by Chris Clay. Because the cards in the game are verifiably attached to your digital wallet, they aren’t trapped in that game’s ecosystem. The gaming experience is very smooth and polished compared to other NFT card game offerings.
This game allows you to not only buy and sell cards but also earn them through gameplay and expansion packs. Fans of Yugioh and Pokemon will feel right at home with the game’s style and use of strategies.
The goal of Gods Unchained is to make your digital cards feel just as real as physical trading cards by promoting true ownership of your cards and decks. Because each card is minted into a blockchain, game developers cannot alter the value or attributes of the card, unlike HearthStone.
It seems like the company tried really hard to make sure that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to make competitive decks. It’s technically free-to-play, but working your way up without buying powerful cards will be challenging.
The game has a pay-to-earn model that allows players to win real NFT cards that they can sell for real-world money. There’s a lot of buzz going around that it could be the next big esport.
The game is based in the Ethereum blockchain, where players create a virtual world filled with real estate, characters, in-game assets, etc. The game is essentially user-generated. The assets players create are actually owned by them and not the developer.
The Sandbox uses “sand” as a native cryptocurrency. It can be used for all kinds of things in-game. Lands are pieces of real estate that you can actually own and modify, and there is a limited amount of it.
You can charge players to visit your land in “sand” and sell your property for a profit. Pieces of land are like tickets that allow you to make a world of your own. You can actually earn passive income by charging players rent on virtual land.
This is for real. And if you think this stuff is super niche or underground, the game’s website is currently advertising a party at Snoop Dogg’s in-game mansion. This is not a joke. He has recently talked about his interest in the NFT world, and this is one of his projects.
These seemingly simple and pixelated games like Minecraft, Roblox, and The Sandbox are so popular because of how accessible they are. Not everyone has the latest console or a souped-up gaming PC. Almost anyone with a phone or cheap laptop can participate in these worlds.
This game has a lot in common with Gods Unchained in that it’s a trading card battle game with a very healthy user base, particularly in the Philippines. Players can earn rewards, including Axie Infinity Shards (AXS). Breed NFT “Axies” using Smooth Love Potion (SLP) to make new ones and use NFT potions for power. Before you can play the game, you need at least three Axies.
Many believe that this aspect is what is holding this game back from exploding with popularity as each Axie is fairly expensive. As of August this year, an Axie will cost you anywhere between $300 and $400. This is a very high bar for entry into the game and can have a legitimate effect on economics for players.
At least it’s an in-game asset that can be liquidated for real money. Unlike Yugioh or Pokemon cards, you can actually breed these freaky little creatures and make entirely new Axies that are actual NFTs.
There’s a lot of speculation on the longevity of this game, which was created by Sky Mavis. The developers of the game have spoken about simplifying the experience and making it more accessible to new players, but the details are unknown.
Let the Financial Games Begin
The movie Ready Player One showed us a world where a video game was intrinsically woven into the economy and that in-game items were valued highly with real money. NFT games are showing us that reality is often stranger than fiction.
Snoop Dogg Enters the Metaverse | The Sandbox
Before you buy NFTs, here’s how to think about their price | Vox
How NFT Play-to-Earn crypto games are storming the gaming industry | Pragmatic Coders