Blockchain gaming may very well be the catalyst for the next surge of mainstream adoption of decentralized applications. In recent years Web3 technology has developed the potential to disrupt more aspects of the world than solely finance. Developers around the globe have continued to write code during the last ‘bear market’ in crypto, and are paving the way to finally bring true ownership to gamers.
Owing to its capacity to furnish a palpable and captivating use case for the technology, decentralized systems present a plethora of advantages when compared to centralized systems, such as enhanced security and transparency, as well as the capability for users to genuinely possess and control their assets. Nevertheless, these advantages can be challenging for the common individual to fully comprehend and value.
Conversely, blockchain gaming and NFTs furnish a lucid and persuasive rationale for users to interact with decentralized systems. By enabling players to truly possess and exchange their in-game items, blockchain gaming provides users with a tangible and valuable incentive to engage with the technology. By offering an entertaining and engaging experience, blockchain gaming renders it effortless for users to grasp and appreciate the benefits of decentralized systems.
To better comprehend where we are heading, it is important to understand where we come from first. This article has been written using a large variety of sources which are mentioned throughout the content. Furthermore, what is not written by myself, ChatGPT wrote for me by means of experiment.
Last but not least, we would not be able to have chronological and factual lists of events without a growing number of NFT historians documenting, preserving, and rediscovering so many noteworthy collections.
One (of many) to mention is @LeonidasNFT, who has been working on NFT History wiki together with contributors (listed below) with expertise on various collections. The wiki will eventually cover hundreds of NFT collections and contributors wanting to add their collection can reach out through their Twitter DMs. Also be sure to visit the recently opened Historical NFT Museum. It’s collaborative efforts like these that make Web3 such an awesome place to be in.
Other contributors to the first release of History Wiki: @DoggfatherCrew @seanbonner @ChainLeftist @CryptoCompass2 @taha_crypto1 @jakegallen_ @Crypto_Lurker01 @guanacastesurf @DiogoAndrea1 @willsm_eth @killakoins @TiberiasMax @JuliusCrypto @99Kakistocratic
Historical overview of gaming NFTs
Before we embark on a journey from the current state of blockchain gaming, to the future of blockchain gaming… We must first take a closer look to notable blockchain gaming and NFT collections with historical significance. Past innovators have widened our scope of what was deemed possible with blockchain technology beyond Bitcoin.
This is by no means intended to be a complete list of chronological events nor does it cover all gaming NFTs. It’s merely a demonstration of how radically and fast gaming NFTs progressed throughout the years in complexity and capabilities.
After publishing this article several people pointed out that indeed there are important details missing. As this story was not intended to be a complete overview, this makes total sense. However Sarutobi is of enough significant importance to add it now! Feel free to reach out to me on Discord with more feedback or comments (ping Jpeg Jeffrey).
theceramist.bit/eth was the first to mention that Sarutobi should be included.
SaruTobi game (2013) with the interoperability of three plus NFT cards between Sarutobi and Spells of Genesis. Also, first instance of interoperability was in Shaban’s Moonga (EverdreamSoft game).
To read the full story behind the origin and creation of Sarutobi, check out this article.
Spells of Genesis
Spells of Genesis is a blockchain-based game developed by EverdreamSoft, a Swiss-based company that was founded in 2010. The game was first announced in 2015, where several trading cards were released with varying rarity. Equilibrium | trader.eth pointed out the following in a tweet as a reply to this article:
SOG was playable since 2015 browser based. lots of cards were released in 2015 and they were also playable in moonga. And it is the first actual game to implement blockchain collectibles and true ownership for assets.
As development continued over a period of several years, the official release of the mobile app occurred in 2017. The game is designed as a trading card game that utilizes blockchain technology to allow players to truly own and trade their in-game items. This makes it one of the first games to successfully implement non-fungible tokens (NFTs) as a means of in-game item ownership.
Recently SoG celebrated their 5-year anniversary by launching an NFT history museum within the CryptoVoxels metaverse, showcasing collections with historical meaning, relevance, or importance throughout the years.
‘Assets to be displayed in the museum include the Bitcoin Genesis Block, the Nakamoto card from RAREPEPE Series 1 as well as collectibles from another early game named Etheria. Cryptopunks, Counterparty, Mooncats and Axie Infinity collections will also be exhibited’, according to Cointelegraph.
The First Decentralized Virtual World & Crypto-Real Estate. Etheria is a virtual world in which players can own tiles as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), farm them for blocks, and build things. In October 2015 Etheria became the first NFT project ever deployed to the Ethereum blockchain. The project was presented at Ethereum’s first tech expo in London; DEVCON1. It’s in fact so old that it predates the ERC-721 token standard. Etheria.world launched just three months after Ethereum’s mainnet.
Each plot originally sold for 1 ETH, which was worth under a dollar at the time. Now they are considered valuable assets: one tile of Etheria land was sold for 70 ETH, or $130,781 at the time of the transaction, which is an enormous appreciation in value. Due to ‘treasure hunters’ in the NFT communities, Etheria resurfaced in 2021 and gained new popularity during the previous bullrun where especially NFTs gained mainstream adoption.
Realms of Ether
Realms of Ether is another rediscovered and noteworthy one of the earliest NFT-based strategy games, launched on Ethereum in December 2017. Only 500 fortresses exist and can be staked. There’s still an active community and a DAO. Players can own fortresses, farm resources, create buildings and recruit troops. King of the Ether is a lesser known Ethereum contract from 2017 making you King or Queen at the time. There’s a number of rediscovered projects, yet not all of them managed to remain as relevant and of significant importance as Realms of Ether, Spells of Genesis, or Etheria.
CryptoKitties is a blockchain-based game that allows players to breed, collect, and trade virtual cats. Each cat is unique and is represented by a non-fungible token (NFT) on the Ethereum blockchain. This means that each cat is one-of-a-kind and cannot be replicated or exchanged for something else of equal value.
The game was first launched in November 2017, and it quickly became one of the most popular blockchain-based games in existence. The game’s popularity was driven by its cute and colorful art style, as well as its simple and easy-to-understand gameplay. Players can breed different cats to create new and unique cats, each with its own set of attributes and traits. These cats can then be sold or traded on the blockchain, and their value can fluctuate based on supply and demand.
One of the unique features of CryptoKitties at the time is that the game is built on the Ethereum blockchain, which allows for true ownership and control of the virtual cats. This means that players can truly own their cats and can trade them with other players without the need for a central authority. This is made possible through the use of smart contracts, which are self-executing contracts with the terms of the agreement written directly into code.
The breeding process of CryptoKitties is based on the concept of genetic inheritance, where the attributes of the parent cats are passed down to their offspring. This creates a wide variety of different cats with different attributes and traits, which can be sold or traded on the blockchain.
The game also has its own virtual economy, where players can buy and sell cats using the cryptocurrency Ether (ETH). This allows players to earn money by breeding and selling valuable cats, and also provides a way for players to invest in the game.
The game’s success has led to the creation of a new market for NFTs, and other blockchain-based games and projects have been inspired by the game’s innovative use of blockchain technology. The game has also sparked a lot of interest in blockchain technology and NFTs, which is helping to drive mainstream adoption of these cutting-edge technologies.
Decentraland is a 3D virtual reality platform built on the Ethereum blockchain. The project was first announced in 2015 by co-founders Esteban Ordano and Ari Meilich. The team behind the project raised $26 million in a 2017 initial coin offering (ICO) to fund the development of the platform. The platform went live in February 2019, allowing users to create and explore virtual worlds built on the Ethereum blockchain.
It is a decentralized, open-source, and community-driven platform that allows users to create, experience, and monetize content and applications. The platform is based on the concept of a virtual world that is divided into parcels of land, called LAND, each of which is represented by a non-fungible token (NFT) on the Ethereum blockchain.
Users can purchase and own LAND, and use it to create and monetize their own virtual experiences. This can include building virtual worlds, creating games, and hosting events. Users can also monetize their LAND by renting it out to other users or by creating and selling virtual goods.
Decentraland also has its own virtual economy, where users can buy and sell LAND and virtual goods using the cryptocurrency MANA. This allows users to earn money by creating and monetizing their own content and experiences, and also provides a way for users to invest in the platform.
The platform also allows users to interact with each other in a social way, users can create avatars and move around the virtual world, they can also participate in events and activities, and interact with other users. This social aspect of the platform also allows users to establish their own virtual communities and organizations, which can be used to create and monetize new forms of content and experiences.
The first playable on-chain game inside an NFT was launched by Arcade NFTs, starting with their Genesis Pinball collection that consists of 501 pinball games inside a pinball machine. The pinballs are playable directly on OpenSea and on the Arcade website.
The Genesis Pinball is the foundation of Arcade NFTs. It is the culmination of months of hard work, the realization of a dream, and the very first playable game inside an NFT in history. The Genesis Pinball is limited to only 501 ever made.
The Arcade team initially developed the idea for this project in December of 2020, and was finalized by May of 2021. Launch however was postponed to refine the product, learn how to code solidity, and launch the Pinballs on their own contracts. Eventually the Genesis Pinballs launched on the 14th of august in 2021, selling out all 501 in less than 50 minutes at a price of .089 ETH a piece. During the peak of the bull market the Genesis Pinballs reached an all-time-high of 18 ETH, which has come down to 1 ETH as of right now.
Later that year the Arcade Classics launched in the same collection on OpenSea. Arcade Classics is the second collection of unique Arcade consoles , each with its exquisite design traits both externally and in-game. The collection features four different game styles and millions of possible trait combinations. The third drop consists of the Toadrunnerz game collection in collaboration with Toadz by Gremplin. And the fourth collection is titled MetaDragonz, with a game comparable to the popular .io game Slither.
Recently Arcade NFTs merged with the #1 game on Polygon according to DappRadar statistics; Planet IX, which launched in 2022. All Arcade collections will be part of the lore in Planet IX and will be granted exclusive in-game utility as well as staking rewards. Furthermore the Genesis Pinballs were granted a free claim of many of the most valuable in-game NFT assets within the Planet IX ecosystem, each receiving life-time airdrops moving forward as game development progresses.
MetaDragonz was the first game to launch in Arcade NFTs proprietary Arcade Arena. The Arcade Arena is a first of its kind smart-contract created specifically for p2e and pvp gaming in the metaverse where ranking, prizes, and payments are all controlled and fulfilled entirely by a smart contract. This proprietary smart contract technology will be incorporated in upcoming esports games inside the Planet IX ecosystem.
Not long after the mint of Arcade’s Pinballs another independent and successful playable NFT collection launched by a different team named ‘Generative Dungeons’, as well as a large variety of other NFT games including the popular Wolf Game.
Although the beta launched in 2020, it wasn’t untill 2022 before a major milestone was made. Mythical Games ‘Blankos Party’ became the first Web3 game to be made available in Epic Games Marketplace. Fortnite Creator’s Epic Games Store is one of the few Web2 game stores welcoming to Web3 advancements. Although neither Fortnite nor Epic Games have any public plans to implement blockchain or NFTs themselves. (Do note that Gala Games finished 2022 with 18 games in its portfolio, including two on Steam and one in the Epic Games Store)
Ubisoft is one of the major gaming dinosaurs constantly exploring ways to participate in the blockchain gaming industry. Though some plans have difficulties to come to fruition due to backlash from traditional gamers, Ubisoft continues to take different approaches to keep their foot in the door.
“We know it’s not an easy concept to grasp. But Quartz is really just a first step that should lead to something bigger,” Pouard said. “Something that will be more easily understood by our players. That’s the way we think about it and why we will keep experimenting. We will keep releasing features and services around this first initiative.”
“Because of the current situation and context of NFTs, gamers really believe its first destroying the planet, and second just a tool for speculation,” Pouard said. “But what we [at Ubisoft] are seeing first is the end game. The end game is about giving players the opportunity to resell their items once they’re finished with them or they’re finished playing the game itself. So, it’s really, for them. It’s really beneficial. But they don’t get it for now”, — Pouard, VP of innovation at Ubisoft.
Despite ongoing efforts, Ubisoft cancelled the continuous making of NFTs for Ghost Recon in April 2022 through their Quartz Platform, after there was little interest by traditional gamers to trade these in-game items. Ever since, Ubisoft has gone a bit under the radar and said it ‘cools off’ on NFTs and blockchain while it’s in ‘research mode’. In January of 2023 Ubisoft officially confirmed to cancel Project Q, which was supposed to be a blockchain-based game including NFTs.
However, more silently and with less of an ‘in your face’ approach, Ubisoft keeps investing in this technology. Together with Animoca Brands (Arc8, Gamee, and others), Ubisoft invested in a $12m round for blockchain-based and play-to-earn metaverse game ‘Cross the Ages’. And that’s certainly not the only investment they made throughout the years.
Bored Ape Yacht Club
From the holy grail blue chip PFP collections, to lesser known and smaller pfp projects. They all share that gaming is an integral part of expanding and maintaining their community. Hundreds of (mini) games have been developed and released by hundreds of NFT communities. The most noteworthy one in recent events belongs to BAYC.
In January 2023 Yuga Labs introduced ‘Dookey Dash’, a highly exclusive game since only Sewer Pass holders can play. And you guessed it right, both BAYC and MAYC holders were able to claim a free pass, currently reselling a little below 2 ETH each for the lowest tier. It’s a skill based game in the style of infinite runner games like ‘temple run’.
On Feb 15, “The Summoning” event will occur. During this summoning, eligible Sewer Passes based on their rankings in the global leaderboard will transform into something else. While Yuga Labs hasn’t said what they are, it seems to be some sort of new, limited-edition NFT that may continue to evolve throughout 2023′, Learn Bybit wrote.
Hence, the historical significant importance of Dookey Dash is not yet determined…
Current state of blockchain gaming
The present state of blockchain gaming is a domain of vigorous advancement and creativity. With the emergence of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and decentralized finance (DeFi) platforms, blockchain technology has become a prevalent means of creating unique, digital assets that can be possessed, exchanged, and employed within games. This has resulted in the emergence of a burgeoning number of blockchain-based games, ranging from simplistic collectible games to more intricate massive multiplayer online games (MMOs) or even play-to-earn games in the GameFi category.
One of the paramount benefits of blockchain gaming is that it grants players the ability to truly possess and trade their in-game items, which holds real-world value. This has given rise to a new market for NFTs, which has generated a considerable degree of interest and investment. Additionally, blockchain technology can also be leveraged to create decentralized, player-run economies within games, which can lead to novel forms of gameplay experiences.
The future of gaming combined with the power of blockchain and NFTs
Besides a current lack of fantastic gameplay experiences and technology ‘readiness’, or even dare I say… ‘regulations’, we have to address economics as well. A lot of the current models are not sustainable, not inclusive, or only beneficial to early VC investors and later dumped on the average gamer with little knowledge in cryptocurrencies. If the main driver to play a game for a gamer is to gain economical advantages, there is something wrong with the game. Above anything else, games need to be played because they are fun, interesting, or provide a relaxed ‘escape’ experience from real life struggles.
Another drawback is that there’s often a first mover advantage. If you’re not early it usually gonna cost you a fortune to collect the same holdings other players have. Over time the barrier to entry could be so high it damages the game. In the case of Yuga Labs game ‘Dookey Dash’ it’s of course intentional, as the Sewer Pass is part of the exclusive BAYC/MAYC membership they want to maintain. Most games however aim to achieve mainstream adoption.
With $200 billion in revenue for the gaming industry in 2022, there’s limited motivation for traditional gaming companies to change their ways of doing business. Education continues to be a crucial aspect to convince not only gaming companies, but also players that the benefits outweigh the current lack of readiness of the technology to go fully decentralized. Although big steps have been made, there is still a lot to improve in terms of scalability, interoperability, UI improvements, storing data on-chain, etc. Wallet transactions over various blockchain networks alone are already painful enough, even though progress has been made with bridges and other tech. According to DappRadar in 2022 alone $7.6 billion has been invested into blockchain gaming.
NFTs ecosystems with in-game assets and play to earn models will continue to create new marketplaces where both players and gaming companies benefit. NFT gaming is constantly improving and evolving. Over time gamers gain more control over their in-game items, data, and earnings by just playing. The end goal of course is mainstream adoption where gamers don’t need to know that a game is powered by blockchain and NFTs, because it would be the standard instead of the exception.
Lastly, as metaverses mature, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) will play a big role. Different worlds can be explored interchangeable with your own avatars, with full interoperability of tokens and NFTs regardless of what blockchain something is running on. Making gameplay improvements is crucial, along with making blockchain games more fun and immersive in general. As this matures traditional gaming companies and franchises will adopt Web3 at a faster pace. From there on, gaming and NFTs are very likely to be the catalyst for mainstream blockchain adoption.