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BGA Blockchain Game Report July 2021

Posted by
Pedro Herrera

State of the Blockchain Game Sector

Demand for blockchain-powered games has increased during July. The blockchain gaming sector showed a more visible footprint in the industry as the space grew 121% in terms of unique active wallets reaching more than 804,000 unique users. The success stories of play-to-earn games are a positive sign for the entire blockchain industry. The industry is represented by different blockchains in contrast to DeFi or NFTs where the focus is on the few. The involvement of NFTs in gaming dapps is positively affecting the space and the rise of the Non-Fungible Tokens is not expected to scale down anytime soon.

According to the July DappRadar Dapp Industry Report, BSC was the most used blockchain with more than 658,000 unique users in July, and part of that success can be attributed to the inclusion of play-to-earn games into the Binance ecosystem. WAX, a blockchain that focuses on gaming and NFTs came second with 336,000 unique users leaving Ethereum in a distant third place with 105,000. 

The recent success of play-to-earn games is positively impacting the most important blockchains in the industry. The play-to-earn movement is establishing itself as one of the blockchain industry’s main foundations. For instance, Axie Infinity is shattering records in several categories and has become a reason for headlines across mainstream media.

Play-to-earn games are creating microeconomics where individuals have the opportunity to generate passive income simply by playing a blockchain game. As the whole space becomes more mature with established DeFi players and exciting NFT projects, the blockchain gaming sector might be the key to finally reaching mass adoption. 

Source: Google Trends

N.B. It’s important to note that the unique active wallets or users mentioned within this report refer to wallets that interact with the smart contracts of certain games. In some cases, unique wallets do not represent the full scope of daily players.

Key takeaways

  • The blockchain gaming sector shows a more visible footprint, compared to June the space grew 121% in terms of unique users.
  • BSC is now the blockchain with more gaming users attracting more than 391,000 unique users during July, a whopping 2,460% increase month-over-month.
  • WAX and EOS came in afterward with 319,000 and 49,000 gaming users respectively; those numbers represent a 7% and 48% increase from the previous month.
  • Axie became the most valuable NFT collection ever with more than $1 billion in trading volume; $600 million happened during July alone.
  • Cryptoblades challenges AlienWorlds as the most played game across all protocols, the BSC game attracted more than 316,000 unique users during July whilst generating more than $4.3 million in transaction volume.
  • Alien Worlds and Upland increased their usage by 7% and 52% respectively when compared to June, WAX and EOS are directly benefited. 
  • Hive’s Splinterlands experienced a considerable spike in its usage, the game attracted more than 26,000 unique users during July, a 204% increase from the previous month. 
  • Virtual lands among different metaverses increased their value; A Sandbox land lot sold for $863,000 while several Axie lands are trading above $500,000.

Table of Contents

Play-to-earn games boosting the blockchain industry

Last month, we covered the Q2 performance of the blockchain gaming sector. Numbers showed an impressive 600% increase from numbers registered in March 2021. It was clear back then that the play-to-earn revolution had already started. 

Fast forward into July, not only has the positive trend remained consistent, the blockchain gaming sector is generating a powerful impact on the whole industry. During July, more than 804,000 unique users connected to blockchain games smart contracts. The number represents a 121% increase from June’s usage. 

Source: DappRadar

Not only has the gaming sector more than doubled its popularity from last month, but it is outperforming two of the most important pillars of the blockchain industry. Despite the latest explosion in popularity of NFTs and a more consolidated DeFi space, the gaming sector is driving value in the form of usage. 

Play-to-earn games have become more than relevant for the blockchain industry. In recent months, players around the world seem to have finally realized the true potential of blockchain and its integration with gaming. The amount of users is exponentially increasing and it is truly rewarding to watch the positive impact play-to-earn games can represent in people’s lives.

Axie Infinity keeps shattering records

The dominance of Axie Infinity continues in a sector that is constantly welcoming new users. Despite facing several technical issues that left thousands of players without access to the gaming platform, the game not only maintained its huge usage but it increased significantly. Currently, Axie handles more than one million daily players. 

Furthermore, in July, Axie became the most valuable NFT collection ever, netting over $830 million in trading volume (over $1 billion updated with August figures). The Ronin-based game registered new highs during July, generating more than $600 million in volume during this month alone. This amount represents an impressive 453% increase from the already robust numbers generated in June. 

Source: DappRadar and Sanbase

The massive volumes go in accordance with their rapid growth on social media channels as well. During July, the social reach generated within Twitter and Discord surpassed 1.5 million users combined. In the same month, the game reached more than 310,000 followers on Twitter and 700,000 Discord members. 

Source: Token Terminal

It appears that Axie Infinity is on pace to break any record in the blockchain scope. An impressive example is the revenues achieved by the project. According to Token Terminal, the AXS governance token helped Axie generate more revenue during July than the whole Ethereum, BSC, and Bitcoin blockchains respectively. It is impressive that a single game was able to outgain the most important blockchains in the space.

The game is finally reaching mainstream media and is currently on a direct trajectory towards mass adoption. With ongoing improvements to the game mechanics and a solidified community, Axie Infinity is becoming the spearhead for the entire industry. 

BSC is heavily into gaming

During this year, BSC has consolidated itself as one of the top blockchains in the industry. Simply put, the Binance Smart Chain has become the most used protocol in the industry with more than 650,000 daily unique users on average during July. 

BSC had previously relied mainly on DeFi dapps and NFTs to some extent to achieve its current level of success, yet it is gaming that has made the bigger strides in recent weeks. The usage in BSC increased by a whopping 2,460% from June numbers. BSC games are driving more than 391,000 unique users on average, which represents around 60% of the network’s traffic. 

Source: DappRadar

Although several games have been launched recently on BSC, there is one that stands out from the rest: CryptoBlades. CryptoBlades is a battle game where users engage in PVE battles to gain experience and earn the in-game currency SKILL. SKILL can then be staked within the same platform to increase a player’s holdings. Users can have up to 4 characters to fight as many battles as their stamina allows. 

Currently, CryptoBlades attracts more than 350,000 daily users, the third most in the gaming category and the second most used dapp in BSC behind PancakeSwap. The game registered an astonishing 75 million transactions during July. It is perhaps thanks to its simple in-game mechanics that the game has seen a huge increase in popularity. Additionally, CryptoBlades plans to enhance its current mechanics by adding PVP battles and special weapon drops. 

Source: DappRadar

Besides CryptoBlades, other games launched within the Binance Smart Chain are also performing positively. MyDefiPet, a gaming dapp that allows users to grow and breed digital pets became very popular during the last weeks. This game attracted more than 32,900 unique users during July, a 668% increase month-over-month. Although the game is not completed yet, it has gained a lot of attention recently. Expect the trend to continue once the game is close to being complete. 

Source: DappRadar

Another option in the BSC network is CryptoZoon. CryptoZoon is another Pokemon-inspired dapp that engaged more than 17,000 users during July, the month it was launched. This game allows players to earn Zoon, the in-game currency, by completing daily quests. Zoon allows owners to enhance their pets in order to earn Zoon in a more efficient manner. It all comes full circle. 

The BSC play-to-earn games are becoming the driver behind BSC’s surge in daily usage. Most of these games rely on NFTs to complete tasks that earn players in-game currencies. Whilst the in-game mechanics are far from a gamer’s dream, BSC games rely on simple but functional and captivating interfaces. A recipe for success we have already seen in other BSC dapps like PancakeSwap and ApeSwap.

WAX keeps growing albeit falling to second place

The Worldwide Asset Exchange – WAX led the usage rankings throughout most part of the year. With the wave of new play-to-earn dapps that attracted thousands of users to BSC, WAX now stands second. However, there is no reason for concern. Actually, WAX’s usage did increase as well. Compared to June, the chain increased its daily unique users by 7% reaching almost 320,000 unique wallets during July. 

Source: DappRadar

The main driver behind WAX’s popularity is still Alien Worlds. The game was played by more than 287,000 unique users during July making it one of the most popular games of the entire blockchain space. Despite the massive attention received by games on other platforms, Alien Worlds increased its usage by 7% when compared to June. Furthermore, this popular WAX game saw more than 437,000 NFT transactions, trailing only Axie in that category. 

R-planet is another WAX game that stands out from the rest. With more than 18,200 daily users, the game increased its usage by 2.2% from the previous month. R-Planet is an interesting option that allows players to stake NFTs from different projects to create in-game items that may result in new NFTs and even prices in WAXP. The game is near to completing the first phase of its roadmap. R-Planet’s outlook is enticing as additional integrations and enhanced in-game features like virtual lands are expected for the second phase.

Overall, the WAX blockchain is one where NFTs and games can thrive. WAX relies on a dynamic marketplace like AtomicHub where affordable NFTs are traded with no transaction fees. With Alien Worlds and R-Planet already standing out and Colonize Mars waiting in the wings. 

The hottest games on other chains

Ronin (Axie Infinity), BSC, and WAX are the clear blockchain leaders in terms of onboarding gaming users. Nonetheless, the performance achieved by other gaming and play-to-earn dapps that belong to different networks cannot be overlooked. 

Source: DappRadar

Upland is a metaverse on the EOS blockchain that replicates famous world cities like Manhattan, Brooklyn, Chicago, and San Francisco. In this game, users can own digital parcels in the form of NFTs. Players can travel between cities to complete hunts and collections or simply act as real-estate agents by buying and selling digital properties. 

In addition, in-game properties allow users to enjoy an annual yield that can be viewed as rent. Upland registered over 45,000 unique wallet interactions during July, a 54% increase from June. As of July, the game saw over 140,000 unique players. Upland represents almost 92% of EOS’s total unique users. 

Source: DappRadar

Another game that almost single-handedly drove value to its blockchain is HIVE’s Splinterlands. During July, Splinterlands attracted more than 26,000 unique users, a 204% increase month-over-month. Spinterlands is a collectible card game inspired by Magic: The Gathering, where players can enhance their cards and use them to earn rewards in tournaments, complete daily game quests, trade, or even rent them on secondary markets such as OpenSea and PeakMonsters.

Along with the usage, the trading activity has also increased. In July, Splinterlands recorded over 14,600 transactions which represents a 17% increase from June and a 233% from April’s numbers.  

Most of the blockchain games saw their audience grow during July. Even Ethereum, a chain far from ideal to gaming dapps due to the expensive gas fees, saw its gaming popularity increase. As of July, the network registered over 35,000 unique users interacting with Ethereum games. Thanks to the integration with Immutable X, a Layer 2 solution, games like Illuvium and Gods Unchained will become very relevant in months to come. 

GameFi aims to become the next big wave

One of the many positive faces of blockchain is the capability of allowing users to earn passive income. The premier example is DeFi, where users can enjoy returns by investing their assets in different manners. GameFi exactly refers to the gamification of DeFi where players can get full control of their in-game assets so they can optimize their yields through different options.

Whilst play-to-earn games like Axie and Alien Worlds allow users to earn passive income by earning in-game currencies, GameFi aims to add another layer in yield optimization. The GameFi methodology is clearly reflected in two important dapps: BSC’s Mobox and Polygon’s Aavegotchi. 

Source: DappRadar

Mobox is a dapp on BSC that combines gaming features with NFT staking and yield farming. By the end of July, Mobox had around $150 million in Total Value Locked (TVL), the amount that represents the assets staking on the platform. Mobox allows users to stake liquidity provider (LP) tokens or stablecoins to obtain rewards in the form of yield farming tokens called KEYs. KEYs can be used to unlock NFTs that can be thus used as playing characters or as staking assets in the MOBOX platform. The BSC game attracted over 7,500 unique users during July whilst generating over $50.1 million in sales volume. 

Another game that blends DeFi features with gaming mechanics is Aavegotchi. This game runs on the Polygon blockchain and attracted more than 1,500 unique users in July. Whilst the numbers are not impressive, the potential of this game relies on its roadmap. 

Future enhancements of Aavegotchi’s metaverse include the launch for the second generation of ghosts (Haunt 2) expected in August and a more mid-term feature that will enable staking and mining programs through virtual lands.

It is undeniable that both representatives of the GameFi movement currently do not boast impressive numbers as other blockchain games. Yet the combination of gaming elements with optimized DeFi features might be the next big mania waiting to happen. 

Appreciating virtual lands and metaverses

Blockchain-powered metaverses are virtual worlds where players can build, own and monetize their gaming experiences. As the demand for blockchain games has skyrocketed, virtual lands have been on the rise as well. For instance, The Sandbox generated over $6.7 million in sales volume during July, a 68% increase from June’s records. 

Virtual land is a concept that is already utilized in several games. Projects like The Sandbox, Somnium Space and Decentraland have become the virtual home of several projects within the blockchain industry. Parcels near recognized dapps or individuals will be key when creating digital experiences, therefore an appreciation in this type of lot will increase over time. It is becoming common to see virtual lands amongst the high-value NFT sales month after month. 

Source: DappRadar

While some of the aforementioned dapps like Decentraland lead the way in the blockchain-powered virtual worlds, several other projects aim to include digital lands in the near future. For instance, Axie Infinity will incorporate in-game mining rewards as part of the in-game mechanics. Thus, virtual lands in the Genesis parcels are becoming increasingly appreciated. Aavegotchi, the Polygon-based game is another project looking to enable additional in-game features by incorporating virtual land NFTs, but the list can really go on.

As virtual land and metaverses play a more important role not only for the gaming space but for the whole blockchain industry, users are looking to get their hands on the coveted assets driving their demand higher. We have finally arrived at a time where it is getting more usual to see virtual lands surpass the value of parcels in the physical world. 

In summary

The play-to-earn revolution was in full display during July. Games, where players can yield higher rewards, are becoming mainstream, especially in emerging economies. Axie Infinity is setting the standard not just for games but for the entire industry. The game is expected to continue its upward trajectory with ongoing enhancements by the Sky Mavis team and the future inclusion of more features like digital land features. With over a million daily users, Axie has become life-changing for people in several regions. 

While BSC games do not provide a true gaming immersion experience like the one offered by Axie, Splinterlands, or any of the main metaverses, they certainly engage users with straightforward playing dynamics and user-friendly interfaces. BSC games are not only becoming one of the Binance chain’s foundations but it is becoming key to providing users with more exposure to other features of the blockchain world. The simple fact of a player creating a wallet, connecting to a friendly interface, and getting familiar with terms like staking is a win for the entire industry. 

On a planet with over 2.8 billion gamers, the blockchain gaming space certainly has room to grow. It is encouraging to see both established players like Alien Worlds or Upland, and revamped games like Splinterlands attracting more users on a constant basis. Furthermore, it is healthy for the entire industry to see more blockchains involved amongst the most used dapps in certain categories, contrary to what happens in DeFi, where three chains control most of the market’s TVL. 

Finally, the metaverses will only become more relevant. During the last months, we saw different games like BSC’s My Neighbour Alice perform their land sale with high success whilst The Sandbox and Upland have been doing it for a while. We have also seen added features in metaverses like buying clothes for avatars directly in Decentraland in-game stores or the recent Burberry sale in Blankos metaverse. Moreover, the inclusion of the fashion industry will also be something to keep an eye on when speaking about metaverses. We have seen previous success stories in traditional gaming, specifically Fortnite where users are open to paying thousands of dollars for in-game skins. There is no reason to believe that this situation cannot be replicated in blockchain metaverses. 

The success stories of play-to-earn games are a positive sign for the entire blockchain industry. The combination between NFTs and gaming is also something to watch closely as the rise of NFTs is not expected to scale down anytime soon.

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