BGA Blockchain Game Report August 2021

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State of the Blockchain Game Sector

The blockchain-powered gaming sector keeps increasing. In August, more than on average 883,000 daily unique wallets interacted with game-related smart contracts. In a month that witnessed record sales volumes in NFTs, Axie Infinity continues its strong run while other gaming dapps have seen their adoption skyrocket. The metaverse and relevant layer-2 solutions keep preparing themselves to welcome a more mature gaming sector.

According to DappRadar’s August Industry Report, more than 2 million unique wallets interacted with a blockchain dapp during August on a daily average, an 18% increase from the previous month. Whilst the NFTs have been generating massive sales volumes, it is the blockchain-powered games that are carrying the load in terms of usage.

August confirmed the trend we started observing in July, where the usage begins to drift heavily towards blockchain games. In this month, more than 883,000 unique blockchain wallets interacted with a gaming smart contract on a daily average, increasing 17.02% from the numbers seen in July. 

Source: DappRadar

The rise in gaming popularity positively impacted NFTs as well. In blockchain games, game items are represented by NFTs, thus, they represent an important subject in the NFT marketplaces across all protocols. In August alone, the NFT space generated over $5 billion in total sales volume. Almost 20% of the record sales involved gaming NFTs to some extent. 

Furthermore, most of the incumbent blockchains saw their demand growth in respect to gaming dapps. An increase in the interactions between unique wallets and smart contracts is observed in all but EOS and Ethereum. However, it is important to note that Upland, EOS’ main dapp, increased its UAW in August by 47% month-over-month, reaching more than 37,000 daily unique wallets on average. The positive demand trend is supported by analyzing the count of transactions by blockchain, where more users appear to interact in a more sensitive manner. 

All in all, the gaming footprint is getting bigger by the day. The play-to-earn movement is reaching masses. Emerging economies are adopting it as a way of living and it has become relevant enough to raise the attention of an entire government. 

Key takeaways

  • The blockchain industry registered an 18% increase month-over-month in terms of daily unique active wallets, the surge is being driven by games
  • In-game NFT items generated over $1 billion in sales volume, approximately 20% of the record-breaking August NFT sales.
  • Axie Infinity generated over $765 million in sales volumes during August alone, it is still the most valuable collection with over $1.7 billion in sales by the end of August.
  • Splinterlands has become one of the most played blockchain games, it attracted more than 227,000 unique wallets during August, a 420% increase from the previous month. 
  • Several game-based tokens had a strong monthly performance; GameFi related tokens performed particularly well, MBOX increased 452% month-over-month, while ILV is 125% above July’s prices. 

Table of Contents

Axie Infinity gets national attention

The play-to-earn movement has been on an absolute tear since Q2. It all started in May when Axie Infinity moved to Ronin, an Ethereum sidechain that allows transactions at high speed with almost non-existent gas fees. 

Since then, the game developed by Vietnamese studio Sky Mavis has become the most valuable NFT collection ever, surpassing $1.7 billion in total sales. Almost half of it (45%), occurred in August. Furthermore, Axie generated $355 million in revenues in August alone, leaving important dapps like OpenSea and Uniswap, and even entire blockchains like Bitcoin, behind. 

Source: DappRadar

The project’s social media reach is also impressive. Axie Infinity currently has more than 467,000 Twitter followers and 800,000 discord members. In addition, it’s currently the 54th most popular game on Twitch, the streaming platform, providing additional income options for content creators. 

While the game’s metrics are something to behold, this month, the biggest news came from a political standpoint. Axie Infinity has become relevant enough to raise the attention of the Philippines government, a country that is home to more than 500,000 active Axie gamers. 

According to the Philippines media, Finance Undersecretary Antonette Tionko publicly stated all earnings from the play-to-earn platforms will become subject to tax legislation. In Axie’s case, players may reasonably earn 75 Smooth Love Potion (SLP) per day. SLP is a game currency used to create new Axies and is obtained by completing certain activities in Daily and Adventure modes. With SLP’s current price at $0.13, Axie gamers approximately earn $9.75 per day on average or $292.50 per month. The amount is especially significant in emerging economies. According to the latest official sources, The Philippine Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased 11.8% in Q2 of 2021 and is expected to be around $3,160 by the end of this year. 

The play-to-earn movement is raising attention from a macro perspective. If regulations are indeed happening, they won’t come into play from one day to another. Still, something to keep an eye on. 

The rise of Splinterlands

Several play-to-earn games performed incredibly well this month. Yet, there is one that deserves a special mention, Splinterlands. Splinterlands is a blockchain-based trading card game that runs on the Hive network. In Splinterlands, players must use their best strategy accordingly, to defeat other players and complete quests. By successfully completing each of the previous tasks, players earn Dark Energy Crystals (DEC), the main in-game currency. To learn more about the game, please read this detailed guide.

In early August, the game launched SplinterShards (SPS), the in-game governance token, helping the game record its best month ever. In August, Splinterlands attracted over 132,400 unique wallets, a 406% increase from the previous month and an important 1,406% from the end of June. The spike in usage resulted in more than 58 million transactions. As per the project, the game’s market cap that includes all cards and collectibles is almost $200 million. 

Source: DappRadar

Along with Alien Worlds (WAX) and Upland (EOS), Splinterlands is one of those gaming dapps that are able to sustain an entire blockchain. 

Game-based token performance

The nature of play-to-earn dapps relies on an in-game currency. Although the tokenomics change from one dapp to another, this in-game currency is no different from other cryptocurrencies, technically speaking. As a result of the play-to-earn revolution, several game-based cryptos are easily outperforming their token peers.

AXS, Axie Infinity’s governance token, showed a strong trend that relates to the game’s recent success. AXS has yielded great results to its token holders. Since the start of June, AXS’s price has increased an outstanding 1,382%, and 69.5% since last month.

Whilst AXS performance can be expected due to its game strong performance, other game-based tokens are following the same line. Particularly GameFi related tokens like MBOX or ILV (Illuvium). For instance, MBOX, Mobox’s governance token, has increased its price by 452.10% in one month.  

Source: Coingecko

Another example is YGG, the governance token of  Yield Guild Games. Yield Guild Games is a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) that aims to create a digital economy based on NFTs that are used in blockchain games and metaverses. YGG is currently the 121st token by market cap and its price has increased 721% since its launch, which happened at the end of July.

When compared to game-based tokens, Bitcoin and some of the most relevant altcoins have been outperformed. Even important cryptos like Solana’s SOL and Cardano’s ADA, which recently reached their respective all-time highs, are being outpaced by game-based cryptos.

Source: Coingecko

Whilst the aforementioned tokens cannot be compared straight away due to the difference in their respective market caps, game-based cryptos underline the strong trend this sector is currently experiencing. Even if it’s not by playing, individuals can make the most of games by simply holding their in-game currencies.

Illuvium: the next Axie?

Speaking about strong token performance, a game that is mandatory revisiting is Illuvium. Illuvium is an open-world RPG blockchain-based game built on top of Ethereum. Illuvium allows players to capture and breed creatures with different classes and abilities called Illuvials. The game then follows team battle mechanics similar to the ones found in League of Legends. 

Illuvium’s graphics, soundtrack, and tokenomics have created lots of hype within the industry albeit with delays in the game’s development. Moreover, the gaming dapp recently moved to Immutable X, an Ethereum layer-2 solution that relies on Zero-Knowledge (ZK) Rollups as a consensus mechanism. In this way, NFT distribution and all in-game mechanics will occur on layer-2, where players will enjoy a gas-free playing experience. 

ILV’s price has increased dramatically as of late. ILV is 105% above July’s price and 663% higher when compared to June. ILV is the game’s governance token and can be staked or locked in a 12 month vesting period within the platform, adding a strong gamefi layer on the tokenomics design.

In addition, the game attracted more than 7,100 unique wallets in August, a 69.33% increase month-over-month. In transaction volumes, Illuvium achieved a notable 88.37% increase from July, generating more than $75 million in August alone.

gaming dapps
Source: DappRadar

Even though most of the current blockchain gamers are currently connecting to incumbent blockchains, any layer-2 or sidechain solution has infinite relevance in the blockchain game landscape. It will not be surprising to watch Illuvium replicate Axie’s success as the next sidechain marvel.

Metaverse grows all around us

The concept of the metaverses is a noteworthy part of the industry. Virtual worlds aim to become the place where individuals form communities to create, trade, and socialize. As projects in the metaverse move forward in their corresponding developments, their relevance is only trending upwards. 

In previous months, we already observed that virtual lands within important virtual worlds are becoming more expensive. For instance, lands in Lunacia, Axie’s virtual world, are being sold for more than $500,000 whereas well-located land plots in The Sandbox have surpassed $850,000.

This trend will probably keep the same pace as several gaming dapps that involve virtual lands features. Last month, Ember Sword sold 6,000 plots of land amounting to $203 million, while My Neighbor Alice did its own by selling 1,000 land plots. In August, The Sandbox carried its first out of four land sales based on The Walking Dead comics. 

gaming dapps
Source: DappRadar

Whilst The Sandbox, Decentraland, and Somnium get most of the attention, it is also important to observe other projects. Blankos, a high-end metaverse has partnered with Burberry for exclusive in-game skins, while Treeverse has reached $26.9 million in floor market cap. 

As virtual worlds reach their respective development milestones and more partnerships are announced, expect this space to substantially increase in the upcoming months. The metaverse is being formed as a virtual environment where anybody can contribute and exchange value.

Highly used games in BSC

Binance Smart Chain has slowly become the most used blockchain in the entire industry. A network that originally started with a strong focus on DeFi, has now turned its attention onto gaming. In August, BSC increased its usage by 18% reaching over 1 million unique wallets on average per day. Almost half of them are coming from gaming dapps. 

gaming dapps
Source: DappRadar

In last month’s report, CryptoBlades drew rave headlines by attracting more than 300,000 unique wallets. In August, the BSC game attracted more than 430,000 unique wallets, improving 36% month-over-month. Nonetheless, CryptoBlades appears to have peaked in mid-August and now experiences a downwards trend. The dapp enabled Raid mode and is still expecting a PvP enhancement. In the next weeks, we will confirm whether the strong activity experienced by the game was organic or bot-led.

gaming dapps
Source: DappRadar

In this month, Mobox gets the BSC spotlight as the game-fi dapp performed exemplary. I previously mentioned the MBOX token’s strong performance, and the dapp’s overall metrics are no different. Especially when considering the strong DeFi features contained in the game. Players can stake liquidity provider (LP) tokens or stablecoins to obtain rewards in the form of yield farming tokens called KEYs. KEYs can be later used to unlock NFTs, and thus, be used as playing characters or staking assets in the MOBOX platform.

gaming dapps
Source: DappRadar

In August, Mobox registered over 177,000 unique wallets, whilst reaching over $350 million in TVL. Those numbers represent a 505.42% and 133.33% increases from July’s numbers respectively. In addition, the game generated over $147 million in transaction volume, proving that the game’s demand is higher than ever. 

Other BSC games that deserve some attention are X-World Games, Crypto Zoon, and Crypto Bay. Nonetheless, it is still too early to provide any outlook for these dapps.

The learning curve in the blockchain industry is particularly steep. Whilst BSC games do not offer the best game experience, the high usage ratios generated by the chain are essential, not only for itself but for the entire play-to-earn movement. With upcoming games like Binemon that look to improve the gaming immersion, along with enhancements to existing games like My Defi Pet and CryptoBlades, BSC games will look to increase their market share. All in all, the role of BSC in the gaming space has become utterly relevant. 

Polygon trying to enter the gaming race

Polygon is another blockchain strongly tied to the DeFi space. The Ethereum sidechain became relevant by allowing users to bridge assets in order to avoid incurring high gas fees. However, there were two important August events that may kickstart something interesting in Polygon’s gaming ecosystem.

First, Aavegotchi. The GameFi dapp hosted its second airdrop, the Haunt 2. In this event, players could. In August, Aavegotch attracted 4,700 unique wallets, a 60% increase month-over-month. 

REVV Racing is a car racing simulation developed by Animoca Brands, the studio behind The Sandbox. The Polygon-based game attracted almost 15,000 unique wallets in August (4,400% increase month-over-month) whilst generating more than $640,000 in transactions volume. Hopefully, this game will create a community among speed fans. 

gaming dapps
Source: DappRadar

Whilst Polygon is not characterized by games, the network has a good opportunity to become more visible in this aspect. The expansions expected in the Aavegotchi metaverse, along with the rise of interesting gaming dapps like REVV Racing or Loser Chick might lead to the birth of the Polygon gaming audience.

Closing thoughts

Blockchain gaming has become essential to understanding the industry. Play-to-earn dapps are attracting more users than their DeFi and NFT peers and may become the key to reach mass adoption. The impact caused by the trend goes beyond the chain. The social impact currently entailed by some play-to-earn games is massive. In the case of Axie, players are earning at least the equivalent to the forecasted country’s average income. 

Whilst Axie’s success has been incredible, other gaming dapps cannot be overlooked. Splinterlands is already drawing rave reviews thanks to its entertaining card game style and its well-designed tokenomics. It is also probable that we haven’t seen the best games out there yet. 

The next wave of games prepares to take part in the movement. Illuvium has all the looks of an all-time great. Migrating to Immutable X will help the game prepare for its anticipated launch in 2022. Star Atlas is another game that is widely expected by gaming enthusiasts and will have its first NFT distribution on September 7. 

Overall, the blockchain game sector looks stronger than ever. Axie Infinity is poised for the long run, Splinterlands is expected to continue being relevant while WAX and BSC games will continue to attract high usage numbers. The sector still has room to grow. Once virtual worlds and highly expected games enter the metaverses, the sector will become dominant beyond the blockchain. 

About DappRadar 

We want to make exploring, tracking & managing dapps, insightful, convenient, and rewarding for all. We started in 2018, bringing high-quality, accurate insights on decentralized applications to a global audience and rapidly became the go-to, trusted industry source. Today, we’re the starting point for dapp discovery – hosting more than 6000 dapps from over 20 protocols – offer comprehensive NFT valuation & portfolio management and lead the way in data-led, actionable industry reporting.

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The above does not constitute investment advice. The information given here is purely for informational purposes only. Please exercise due diligence and do your research. The writer holds positions in ETH, BTC, ADA, MATIC, SOL, AVAX, DOT, KSM, XTZ, LUNA, UNI, SUSHI, xSUSHI, ORN, AKRO, KNCL, EGLD, BAT, CRO, SHIB, LINK, BAND, BNB, CAKE, OOE, DNXC, DPET, TVK, POLS, POLK, RAMP, XED, AXS, SPS and owns collections like NBA Top Shot, CyberKongz VX, Ghxsts, Cool Cats, RSoP, SupDucks, Legendz, Punks Comic, Pixel Vault DAO, Avastars, Dogs Unchained, VeVe NFTs, and 1/1 art pieces.

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