DappRadar x BGA Games Report #5 – Blockchain games continue to defy the bear market

Blockchain Games Report
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Blockchain gaming is fiercely defying the bear market with 1.15 M daily Unique Active Wallets interacting with games like Splinterlands, Illuvium, GRIT, and more.

Blockchain games are the vertical keeping pace up for the entire industry in a harsh bear season blasting the market. Illuvium´s first land sale, The Galaverse, and new move-to-earn projects keep the interest in this vertical alive.

The dapp industry is experiencing struggles of a prolonged bear season affecting the crypto market. The crypto market cap has fallen below $1 trillion for the first time since 2020. Similarly, the activity in the dapp industry fell to its lowest point since last September, registering 2.22 million daily Unique Active Wallets (UAW). 

Defying the bear market trend, 1.15 million daily UAW interacted with blockchain games on average in May, decreasing only 5% from the previous month. Blockchain games confirmed their status as the blockchain vertical that is better navigating the bear season. 

Industry Unique Active Wallets Vs Game Unique Active Wallets

This report will cover the most important events that occurred over the last weeks which make blockchain games one of the most exciting categories in the dapp industry.

Key takeaways

  • Splinterlands maintains its position as the top blockchain game with 350,000 daily UAW in May while giving a big step towards decentralization 
  • Illuvium generates $72 million from its first land sale; the event shows the advantages of Layer2 solutions like Immutable
  • Galaverse reveals major plans for the Gala ecosystem including GRIT, Project Saturn and major updates to TWD Empires and Mirandus
  • Investments keep pouring into blockchain games with $1.4 billion raised by Web3 games and related metaverse projects since May
  • STEPN registers 2 million monthly users as the move-to-earn paradigm keeps adding exercise enthusiasts

Table of Contents

Splinterlands keeps rolling – 350,000 daily UAW despite bear market

The leading blockchain game doesn’t seem to acknowledge the bear market. For the eight month in a row, Splinterlands dominated the gaming scene with its dynamic trading card mechanics. In May Splinterlands attracted 350,000 daily UAW, shrinking only 4% from April’s numbers. 

But the most significant story for the popular Hive game is the successful sale of SPS validator node licenses. On May 26, the first 2,000 validators node licenses sold out in less than 15 minutes, burning 14.5 million SPS and allocating almost $4 million to the game’s DAO. 

SPS node licenses will be instrumental to the decentralized future of Splinterlands ecosystem which will rely on a Delegated Proof of Stake (DPoS) as the consensus mechanism to approve all transactions. 

SPS holders will have a governance vote to shape up the future of Splinterlands’ DAO. Besides delegating SPS to earn part of the rewards attributed to the validator node, players will be able to acquire the node licenses in the game’s marketplaces, allowing a fairer distribution to the game’s rewards. 

Illuvium land sale generates $72 million and lays blueprint for future NFT sales

Illuvium, one of the most anticipated blockchain games, managed to sell out the game’s first land plots despite the unfavorable market conditions. 

From June 2 to June 4, Ethereum’s open world RPG successfully sold 20,000 land plots generating 4,018  ETH worth $72 million at the time of the sale. Land in Illuvium will be important as owners will have direct access to fuel, the main resource required to play the game. 

Prior to the land sale, in Q1, the game launched its private Beta giving a handful of players a real taste of battle action involving the magical creatures Illuvials. Also, Illuvium will release a mobile version called Illuvium Zero where players will be able to build an industrial virtual complex to mine resources.

Illuvium Twitter

Illuvium will run on Immutable-X (IMX), an Ethereum layer-2 solution that optimizes gas fees whilst enjoying Ethereum’s infrastructures advantages. Contrary to the Otherside mint that left millions lost in an atrocious gas wars, Illuvium’s Dutch Auction prevented that situation (the avg. gas fee for the land sale was $20 compared to the 2 ETH -$4,000 seen in the Otherdeeds). 

Illuvium’s land sale marks the first milestone in one of the true first AAA blockchain games. Also, it lays a blueprint on how scaling solutions like L2 and sidechains should become the preferred option to host any type of blockchain game transactions. 

Apart from Illuvium, IMX is host to Gods Unchained, a TCG blasting through the bear market, Guilds of Guardians, Ember Sword and other exciting games expected to be  integrated in upcoming months. Web3 games will thrive on IMX.  

Time to talk about the Galaverse

Gala Games is slowly building a blockchain game empire. The Gala ecosystem is no stranger to the space with live games in TownStar and Spider Tanks, while assets for games like TWD, and Mirandus, one of the most hyped Web3 games already available in Ethereum marketplaces. On top of that, Gala relies on decentralized nodes run by the players that power up all Gala game dapps, making this ecosystem quite unique.  

From June 6 to June 8, Gala Games hosted the Galaverse, its own conference in Malta where the team unveiled enticing partnerships and shed some light on upcoming milestones for some of the dapps within their ecosystem. 

First, Gala Games announced that the shooter game GRIT will be available in Epic Games Store. The blockchain game will introduce Web3 gaming to the 30 million active Epic Games Store users.

Epic Games is the studio behind Fortnite and the 3D computer graphics game engine Unreal. This contradicts the mindset of Steam, which banned all blockchain games from its platform last October . 

Another exciting Gala partnership was announced in the Galaverse event. Project Saturn will become a Battlestar Galactica themed Web3 game running on the Gala Games ecosystem. To get rights for the IPs, Gala partnered with Universal Pictures. The relation with AMC to develop Walking Dead Empires is just another example of a major Gala partnership.

In addition, Gala Games will be home to Forever Winter, a horror shooter game currently developed by Fun Dog, a game studio mostly composed by developers that worked on The Witcher 3, considered one of the best games in recent years. 

Also, there is Last Expedition, a TPS highly anticipated game developed by the creators of Halo and COD, two of the most successful gaming franchises. In all, Gala Games will be a Web3 game powerhouse for years to come. 

While the price of GALA couldn’t defy the bear trend, it is worth noting that the GALA token follows a similar logic to BTC with a cap supply and yearly halvings. The next important event in the Gala Games universe is the Mirandus Exemplars airdrop, which will reward MTRM and will be considered for Mirandus’ next playtest.

STEPN registers 2 million monthly users as move-to-earn continues to shine

Apart from market crashes and ecosystems imploding, one of the hottest topics in the industry has been the rise of move-to-earn (M2E) as a Web3 paradigm. As its name suggests, M2E allows users to earn token rewards based on their physical activity. 

STEPN is still the most popular M2E dapp with at least 2 million monthly users according to TechCrunch. GMT, the project’s governance token also appears to be a popular option among investors as the number of unique wallets (262,000) holding the GMT token keeps rising despite the negative market sentiment. 

While, STEPN’s on-chain activity has stalled on Solana, the project will enable a leasing function where players will be able to rent the Sneakers NFTs from other users adding another economic layer to this move-to-earn ecosystem. 

Moreover, with the floor price of the Sneakers (5 SOL at writing) and the price of SOL ($29) moving down, the entry barrier to the STEPN ecosystem is more affordable than ever. 

Active Holders VS AA Holders

Apart from STEPN, a handful of dapps are making strides in the M2E rankings although most of them are in early stages. 

Genopets, another Solana Move-to-Earn dapp, takes the gamification element to another level. Genopets follows a similar approach to Pokemon Go, where players catch Genopets monsters moving across different locations in the real world using AR.

The game recently launched Genopets Habitat, the project’s virtual world that will reward users with bonus tokens and crystal earnings. Even though the game is free-to-play, Genopets monster NFTs are available on the secondary market for 55 SOL offering players an advantage in the game mechanics. Genopets is yet to launch its mobile version but the pre-registration process is open on the game’s website

Step App is an Avalanche based move-to-earn dapp that follows similar mechanics to STEPN. The mobile dapp is yet to launch its beta version in upcoming  weeks, although the FITFI staking pools have opened to the public. 

Dotmoovs, a multichain m2e dapp running on Ethereum, BNB, and Polygon, presents an interesting proposition to earn while exercising. Dotmoovs consists in PvP battles where players need to record themselves showing off their dancing and football skills. The free to play game is available to download in Andorid and iOS and rewards users with NFTs and MOOV tokens.

Finally, OliveX, a unique move-to-earn ecosystem with dapps like Dustland, Zombies Run, and Lympo Squat. OliveX is a digital health and fitness company backed by Animoca Brands focused on developing unique user experiences through fitness gamification, augmented reality, and play-to-earn experiences. The three dapps are available to download on both Android and iOS app stores.

In all, the move-to-earn movement is one of the most intriguing concepts in Web3 as of lately. Whether these games can build a sustainable economic model remains to be seen. However, exercising while earning can become a good option to surf through the bear season. 

A16z and Dapper Labs lead May’s gaming and metaverse investments with $1.3 billion in investments

Another bullish aspect of blockchain games has been the consistent amount of capital flowing into metaverse and game projects. In 2022, $4.9 billion has been poured into gaming and metaverse including blockchain infrastructure as well as guilds and incubators to boost gaming outlook. That amount doesn’t take into account the $600 million committed by a16z to create the Games Fund One, a branch that will focus on boosting games studios and infrastructure.   

Investment in Blockchain Games

The other noticeable investment was the $725 million raised by Dapper Labs to expand further the Flow ecosystem. Flow has partnered with some of the biggest sport IP brands namely NBA, NFL, La Liga, and UFC and is home to OG game CryptoKitties.

Where Are Blockchain Games Investments Going?

In all, it is a positive sign to see capital flowing into blockchain gaming where $1.4 billion have been raised since May despite the market turmoil. At writing, 33% of the capital raised this year has gone to infrastructure projects while 25% has been raised by metaverse gaming projects themselves. Even amid the bear season, the interest in this category is not slowing down.  

Top games driving resistance to the market crash

As noted in our May’s Industry Report, game dapps is the strongest vertical resisting the market crash. While new games including the move-to-earn dapps have played an important role in mounting this resistance, the engagement observed in the top game dapps has been the main driver why blockchain games are sidestepping the market crash. 

Splinterlands continues its strong performance with engaging battle dynamics and an enticing decentralized economy represented by the node licenses explained above. Wax’s Alien Worlds and Farmers World complete the top three spots. 

Impressively, Farmers World was able to grow its player base 18% in May, surpassing 133,000 daily UAW. The Mining network is another Wax Gamefi dapp posting high on-chain usage levels although it remains to be seen whether these numbers are coming from organic or bot-driven activity.

Upland has also become a synonym for consistency. The EOS virtual world has been one of the top played games since Q1 2021. The number of Upland on-chain players increased 5% in May, surpassing 47,000 daily UAW. Upland’s player base has almost doubled (90%) since May 2021.

Polygon’s Sunflower Land and Arc8 also managed to grow their player base despite the bear season. Sunflower land is completing its turnaround after the game’s first version collapsed earlier this year. Meanwhile, Arc8 keeps adding mini games to their repertoire finding positive responses with their football and basketball updates.

Top 10 Game Dapps

Apart from the incumbent blockchains, it is worth noting that Thundercore, an EVM compatible chain, is building a complete mobile blockchain game offering. Galaxy Blocks and Jelly Squish increased their activity 23% from the previous month while Color Craze grew its player base 53% from April’s levels. 

On the other hand, BNB’s Bomb Crypto and Mobox lost 50% and 28% respectively. The case of Bomb Crypto is a bit concerning, especialy considering the background of Binance-based games.

The dapp’s player base has fallen sharply from the 22,000 daily UAW seen in Q1, to the 5,000 daily UAW registered in May. The case of Mobox might be directly related to the crash, as the game relies heavily on NFTs where certain projects have struggled.

Harmony’s DeFi Kingdoms (-41%) and Polygon’s Crazy Defense Heroes (-61%) have also struggled this month. To be fair, the steep decrease in on-chain activity of these games is directly tied to the crash of their respective tokens – JEWEL and TOWER. 

JEWEL has lost 99% since April while TOWER is 92% down in the same timeframe. Still, both game dapps have over 12,000 daily UAW and remain among the top blockchain game options in the market. 

Finally, Axie Infinity, which is still feeling the ramifications of the Ronin’s bridge hack. Axie’s on-chain activity has shrunk -39% from April, but is still 55% higher than May 2021. Axie Infinity released the Origin mobile test version which will make the game more accessible to a wider audience. 

We’ll continue to monitor the state of blockchain games.

Will Avalanche become another game powerhouse chain?

Avalanche is a network mostly known for its DeFi feature. As of now, the game category remains largely unexplored with Crabada spearheading the GameFi movement inside the red blockchain. Over the last 30 days, Crabada attracted over 5,250 UAW, decreasing 50% from the same period. However, the gaming future seems bright for the Ava Labs network. 

Shrapnel, a AAA first person shooter (FPS) game is set to launch its open Alpha in Q4 2022. Shrapnel aims to become one of the first AAA FPS blockchain games with an in-game economy powered by SHARP, the game’s native token. 

Shrapnel will allow players to extract loot boxes containing SHARP rewards as well as NFTs skins and weapons. Interestingly, creators will be in charge of designing the maps and some of the in-game assets. 

At first glance, Shrapnel portrays all the desirable factors to create a self-sustaining gaming metaverse. The best scenario is Sharpnels becoming PUBG for blockchain. The mint phase for the first five avatars of the games known as Operators started on June 9 and will carry on for five weeks with each avatar design available to purchase on OpenSea for 0.05 ETH or $60 unlocking each week. To be fair, the mint price is accessible for such an ambitious project. 

Domi Online looks like another enticing gaming option expected to be part of the Avalanche ecosystem. Domi aims to become a Web3 MMORPG inspired by Runescape. DOMI, the game’s native token is deployed on Ethereum and BNB apart from Avalanche. The alpha release, including its virtual world, is expected in Q3 2022. 

But the future of Avalanche gaming doesn’t stop there. Ragnarok, a NFT-based metaverse RPG, is one of the most hyped Avalanche projects. Ragnarok has launched its NFT avatar collection on Ethereum and currently has a 0.49 ETH floor price. 

Ascenders, a sci-fi open-world ARPG is expected to launch its alpha season during Q3 2022, allowing players to be part of the in-game economy.It will be interesting to monitor if Avalanche can replicate its DeFi success in the land of blockchain games.  Learn more about upcoming Avalanche games here.

Closing

Blockchain gaming is proving to be a true survivor during this bear market. We are on the cusp of finally seeing a good amount of blockchain games with truly immersive game mechanics that take entertainment to the next level. We will  complete the transition from play-to-earn to play-and-earn. 

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