Blockchain Games Explored
(A brief look into the blockchain games Aavegotchi, Axie Infinity, and Lost Relics)
Disclaimer: This is not financial advice, and I am not a financial advisor. This is for educational purposes only and all readers should do their own research and due diligence.
Blockchain gaming enables the play-to-earn model where players can attain in-game items, that are either in the form of NFTs or fungible tokens and can be removed from the game to be stored in a crypto wallet. The in-game items can then be sold, traded, or bought on a secondary marketplace. This all seems rather odd compared to the traditional model that we are used to where in-game items stay where their name suggests, in-game. So how will this gain in popularity? Let’s consider the current economics of the video game industry for consumers. In the current video game model, players can earn money either by competing and winning competitions, streaming themselves playing the game, or selling their accounts with all their achievements and items on eBay.
In blockchain gaming, the difference will be that players can earn simply by playing. Users do not need to stream themselves, sell their entire account/identity, or compete endlessly in timed events for cash prizes to earn. The simple mechanics of just playing the game will allow players to accumulate value that they can then either continue to hold and accumulate or sell to others. With the amount of time, energy, and effort that people put into gaming, it is no surprise that the play-earn model is gaining popularity.
This past week I jumped headfirst into 3 different blockchain games to get a better understanding of how they work, how they’re much more than just a game, and where this industry is headed. Here is a table of some similarities and differences between the 3 games:
Aavegotchi differs from the other 2 games in this list in the sense that it does not initially appear to be a game and it also leads with the idea of mixing Defi with NFTs and gaming. Aavegotchi is built on Ethereum and utilizes the Ethereum layer 2 protocol Polygon to reduce transaction costs. As the name suggests this game takes a lot of its in-game mechanics from the popular novelty game Tamagotchi from the ’90s and Aave from the popular Defi protocol.
Aavegotchis are ERC-721 non-fungible tokens and they have a cute, pixelated ghost SVG image that also has traits that contribute to the rarity score of each aavegotchi. The Defi aspect comes into play when you can give/stake various crypto inside of your aavegotchi to earn yield. This is like treating each NFT as if it is a yield-bearing account as well as a creature in a game which is quite awesome. Before playing Aavegotchi one needs to acquire an aavegotchi from the bazaar on the aavegotchi website but once you have one there are mini-games to play and other various users to aavegotchi interactions to engage in. Another way to potentially get an aavegotchi would be to purchase the GHST token and stake it for FRENS. FRENS is a token in the aavegotchi ecosystem that is redeemable for raffle tickets that are used to win wearables which are ERC-1155 tokens. The raffle tickets themselves can also be purchased directly using GHST instead of being redeemed using FRENS.
On top of the Defi use cases and mini-games, aavegotchi also aims to be a developer platform for blockchain games that will exist in their ecosystem. The community promotes the development and creation of new mini-games that are built using the Phaser game engine and discussions in the various discord channels in their server can attest to this. This is all extremely exciting stuff as a user who may not have known about the game prior since there is the potential for them to be exposed to educational material on crypto development. (this is very gud)
Axie has been in the news a lot recently because of the price action of its underlying AXS token, as well as the large increase in the undervaluing of the NFTS used to play the game. I won’t go too deep into the particulars of the sudden boom in popularity but what is interesting to note is that this game was also initially released on Ethereum Layer 1 and have been pivoting to using a side chain called Ronin to decrease their transaction costs and increase the smoothness of the gaming experience.
Axie Infinity’s game economy has a capital barrier to entry of 3 Axies. These 3 axies will need to be purchased from the secondary marketplace before playing. Once you have your 3 axies you will be able to breed, raise, or battle axies to earn SLP which is the ERC20 tokens within the game. By picking the right axies with the right traits, players can hope to either maximize their breeding potential as well as their battle traits. More in-depth information on how to pick your team of axis can be found here (https://axie.zone/)
The PvP battle aspect of the game is like that of Pokémon. Just as in Pokémon where you would craft a diverse team of water, fire, grass, etc., elements to diversify your risk against your opponent’s monster types In Axie Infinity you do the same but with different traits. This creates the market of buyers and sellers around the different Axie NFTs themselves with all the different traits.
The in-game reward revolves around the small love potion (SLP) token and this token is earned after winning battles and completing daily challenges. The small love potion is also be used in breeding which adds to the complexity of the in-game economy. Players must decide whether to make tradeoffs between using the small love potion to breed or simply selling it on a decentralized exchange like Uniswap, etc. This creates an economy where there will be buyers and sellers of the utility token because some may see it as more advantageous at the moment to use the token compared to selling the token as soon as receiving it.
The native token of the Axie game is the AXS token and this token can be staked, used as payment, or used as a governance token to vote on proposals within the ecosystem which acts as the supporting monetary incentive layer within the complex Axie economy.
Lost Relics utilizes Enjin’s gaming ecosystem which is integrated with the Enjin wallet app. The gameplay style is like Skyrim/World of Warcraft which will be familiar to many video game enthusiasts. Unlike the other 2 games prepurchase of an NFT is not required to begin playing.
In Lost Relics, you go on adventures/quests to collect items and gold as you defeat monsters in each dungeon. Careful curation of items within one’s own backpack will be the key to successfully survive in the dungeons. It is important to note that like all play-to-earn games that time is money so if you die before reaching the end of one of the dungeons all the non-blockchain items (i.e. gold, pickaxes) that you accumulated during that mission are lost.
The non-blockchain gold can be used to purchase blockchain items in the Emporium which is the marketplace in the Lost Relics world. The Emporium is a true marketplace in the sense that that is the location where buyers and sellers (all players) can trade or buy items from one another. The economy in Lost Relics revolves around the trade-off between completing quests in a timely manner to either discover blockchain relics to sell or trade or to use these relics themselves to complete the quest in a timelier manner so that more quests can be completed. Here too, similarly to the small love potion from Axie Infinity, there is a trade-off in utility and value within the game that players need to decide which is most optimal for their position. As far as tokenomics goes, this does seem to ensure/stabilize the buying and selling incentives of the utility tokens inside of the games which creates an interesting game economy that has value that can be traded in the real-world markets as well as in the in-game markets.
The three games are quite different from one another when we look under the hood of the general title “blockchain game.” The in-game economies with their various incentives are fascinating to observe and exciting to see where they’ll go!
Some upcoming games I am quite excited to play are Aurory (Solana) and EmberSword (Polygon) which have yet to release. I will give a summary and analysis once I get a chance to play them!