The cursor blinked in front of me, casting a digital glow across my face.
I was on the edge of a new world, and all I had to do was type ‘NFT game’ into the search bar and hit enter.
But I hesitated.
Gamers have been investing insane amounts of money in ‘virtual possessions’ for decades. A quick google of World Of Warcraft’s, Second Life’s, or Entropia’s real-money traders turns up some true-yet-jaw-dropping stories.
Now, with blockchain technology’s rapid-growth and adoption, and a huge influx of NFT-based games, this trend looks to blossom even more.
This is interesting to me because a) gaming is practically ‘in my blood’, b) I love money (who doesn't), and c) my joining Hive has increased my passion for blockchain tech.
Despite all this, I’ve yet to play a single crypto- or blockchain-based game, and that struck me as odd. Why was I hesitating? What’s the big deal? It’s just a search away, right?
Well, I believe in ‘going-all-in.’ I believe that if I’m going to do something, that I do it ‘whole-heartedly.’ I don’t believe in ‘half-assing’ stuff. For example, when I decided to dive into Hive, I ended up writing a 2-part mega-guide even though I had zero crypto- or blockchain- knowledge whatsoever. Or when my foray into Splinterlands ended up with me writing ~10,000 words about a game I’ve still never even played. These are not ‘normal’ decisions for most people. What all this means is that if I decide to explore a new field or area of life, it tends to be a significant time/energy/resource investment.
This has pros and cons, because it means when I explore something, I become pretty adept, pretty quickly. But it also means I have to be extremely choosy about what I say ‘yes’ to, and what I say ‘no’ to, otherwise I’ll spread myself thin and risk not bringing the level of quality and depth I prefer to something.
But life kept popping up NFT-game-related stuff in my feed, social circles, and so on, so recently… I took the plunge and began exploring the arena more. In doing so I’ve dug pretty deep already (as per usual), and I’ve looked through nearly a hundred on-chain games now.
Of course I already knew about Axie Infinity, The Sandbox, and Splinterlands because they’re each hyped enough to approach ‘mass-adoption,’ but that doesn’t mean there aren’t tons of crypto-based games out there, waiting to be discovered. Many of them may be fun and ready to explode, without people even realizing it.
So I’m going to dig into why these 5 games are so intriguing to me.
And I'm gonna bring you along with me on this on-chain game exploration. Hopefully we’ll both come out with some fun and/or profitable leads on games.
Before we dive in, please note that some game-developers actively dislike NFT-based gaming, blame blockchain-games for shortages of microchips and graphics processors, and see NFTs as a scam, and while I may dig deeper into this later, for now I’ll just point out that it’s not a factor in what on-chain games I’m looking at.
Ready? Let’s go.
1. Spider Tanks
Genre: MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena)
Market Cap: Untraded
Main Token(s): GALA
Status: Playable Beta
I believe this is the first high-quality MOBA in the blockchain space. It looks like fast-paced, fun, 3v3 real-time action similar to my favourite League Of Legends game mode, ‘Twisted Treeline’, from back in the day. And although I play League much less lately, I’d still say it’s my favorite game of all time. Will Spider Tanks have a similar appeal? Perhaps.
Spider Tanks does look quite polished and engaging, and some people may enjoy the short average match-time, but I’m not sure if short matches allow the ‘getting strong,’ ‘power-fantasies’ that MOBAs typically provide. Regardless, this looks like an NFT game to watch.
Genre: Virtual Real-Estate Metaverse
Market Cap: Untraded, to avoid becoming a ‘security.’
Main Token(s): UPX (Utility Token)
The trailer says the game is “By llamas, for llamas,” which made me laugh and adds a playful tone to what could be a pretty lucrative digital (& physical) real-estate game. It takes place in a llama-run world very similar to earth, and it maps to real-life addresses. Want to own a penthouse in New York? In Upland, you can. Want to rent it out or sell it and make crypto or USD? You can do that too. Want to meet other players in digital cafes, or form a ‘squad?’ That’s also on the menu in Upland. It’s kind of like an elevated, crypto-based version of Monopoly or Sim City or something.
The idea of real-estate investing & land-ownership interests me, I always had fun playing Monopoly as a kid, and this game looks to require minimal attention for potentially big gains, so I can see the appeal. Plus it’s playable on mobile (Android & iOS), as well as the web.
3. Star Atlas
Genre: Grand Space Strategy MMO
Market Cap: $233,779,211
Main Token(s): ATLAS, POLIS
Status: Playable Mini-Demo
Star Atlas is new. Like, built-on-Unreal 5’s-engine new. It has bleeding-edge real-time nanite graphics and looks incredible. You can choose factions, mine space ore, sell and stake in a space economy, travel deep space, manage fleets, control territories, wage battles, own assets, and more. They even allow players to ‘buy insurance’ for ‘dangerous missions’ in case they fear losing their precious NFT-assets.
“There are very few items in the game that aren't owned by players,” - Mike Wagner, Star Atlas CEO
Now, ‘insurance’ may be ‘too real’ for me personally, but Star Atlas has huge potential as a complete ‘space metaverse’ and is one of the most ‘Triple-A’ NFT games I’ve come across, so it’s hard not to put it on my watchlist of on-chain games to keep an eye on. Their demo / mini-game / first portion of the game released December 16th, and I believe it’s ‘playable’, but the full game won’t release for some time. If this speaks to you, it may be worth a shot and a way to get in on the ground floor of one of the more ambitious NFT projects.
4. Farming Tales
Genre: Cozy 3D Farmer
Market Cap: Unknown
Main Token(s): SEST, CBIT
Blockchain: Wax, Hive
Status: Just-Launched Beta
This one just moved from alpha to a beta release, and it’s especially interesting to me for a few reasons: A) I’m part-foodie, and some of my best friends are farmers, B) There’s a lack of ‘cozy’ games like Stardew Valley or Spiritfarer on blockchain, and C) They’re aiming to integrate with the Hive blockchain as I write. Hive already has Splinterlands of course, but I’m thrilled to see new, fresh games making a splash here.
Made with Unity, Farming Tales is a fun-looking farm-game where NFTs map to real products on farms (mostly in Italy, expanding). As you build your farmland & crops, you’re supporting real farmers & beekeepers. Let’s say you invest in some ‘Honey’ NFTs in-game… this entitles you to be sent a tub of farm-fresh honey, or you can have your honey sold on the marketplace instead for a quick return. Same goes for saffron and other crops.
5. Lost Relics
Genre: Action RPG
Market Cap: Same as Enjin
Main Token(s): ENJ, JENJ
I love me some ARPG Diablo-clones. I’ve played loads: Path Of Exile, Lost Ark, Wolcen, Last Epoch, etc. I've played all those and more, and one thing’s for sure, games like these almost always have a heavy loot-grinding aspect to them. Basically, you spend a lot of time ploughing through hordes of monsters, to earn in-game currency or items.
The thing is, in ‘regular games’ most of this time is ‘wasted.’ Lost Relics (Unity) does have the loot-grinding vibe of most ARPGs, but since it’s an on-chain game, you’re actually earning items easily exchangeable for crypto and valued highly in the marketplace.
It sounds like this is one of the highest-earning Play-To-Earn games, and can technically get started ‘free-to-play’, but may cost a good chunk to get the ball rolling. It’s been around longer than most of the other games mentioned here, I believe, and is made by a solo-developer, one-man-army style. If you like Diablo-likes, this may be worth a shot.
I’m also gonna cover one more game as a bonus. It’s an upcoming release from Gala Games (the Spider Tanks people). Out of all the games I’ve looked at so far, I believe they have the ‘most solid’ dev team, because Gala has the founder of MySpace/Zynga, Peter Molyneux (Fallout 2, Fable), and Will Wright (Sim City) behind it, and the game –though unfinished– looks impressive so far.
Genre: Openworld MMORPG
Market Cap: Untraded
Main Token(s): Materium, GALA
Status: In Development
No maps, no quests, and a totally open-world ruled by 5 Player-Monarchs… Mirandus is an MMORPG that aims to offer unprecedented player-freedom, letting you do almost anything that you'd want from battling through monster-filled dungeons, to serving as a knight in another Player’s court, to founding entire cities.
Mirandus is a dangerous land where your NFTs are on the line, but it’s also rich in the arcane substance Materium, which allows players to cast spells, craft the sublimely powerful items, and even raise a slain hero from the dead.
Whew, there we go! 5 (+1) intriguing blockchain titles that I’ve put on my radar and am likely to try. I’ll mention I’ve yet to play any of these games. They might not live up to the hype, they might be heavily pay-to-win, they might be swarmed with bots or abusable, but they could also be flawlessly executed gaming experiences, I truly don’t know.
The NFT-Gaming space is an extremely new field.
And like most new fields, we may have to sort through a lot of bandwagon-jumpers getting onboard aiming for a quick buck, before we figure out the real ‘players’ in the game who are in it to create quality art. (Or quality games.) So here, I’ve done my best to cover ones that have such potential.
The games I’ve looked at here seem to be by passionate developers who are aiming to make a real impact, and it’s actually a pretty tough choice for me as to where I’d start, because they all look pretty appealing.
But Jay, what about Splinterlands?
Well, Splinterlands is blowing up, and has tons of coverage already, especially here on Hive, so I wanted to draw people’s attention to some other noteworthy games. Not to mention, my aesthetic sensibilities prevent me from playing Splinterlands. On top of that, I’ve already wrote a huge piece dedicated just to Splinterlands:
So we’ll see, I may revisit it another time.
Anyway, of the games that are on my radar, which one would you start with? Or do you have another recommendation? I’d love to know in the comments.
Either way, thanks so much for reading, commenting, sharing, and even skimming. I appreciate you and wish you a fantastic day.
Want more from me on gaming? Check these out:
- 5 Superb Yet Overlooked Indie Games (That You Should Totally Play)
- 10 Games Worth Playing (Even If You Hate Their Genre)
- From Pacman To Hades: I Never Finish Games
Stock images courtesy of epic stock site, Envato.com