Play-to-Airdrop Surge Doubles Ronin and Polygon Activity

Blockchain Gaming Report January 2024
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January Blockchain Gaming Report by DappRadar

In 2024, it appears that history is repeating itself as we experience echoes of the transformative period of 2021. Just as the narrative of ‘play-to-earn’ sparked a new bull run and reshaped the gaming landscape, a similar phenomenon seems to be unfolding with the emergence of the ‘play-to-airdrop’ narrative. Dive into the first blockchain gaming report of 2024 made by DappRadar. 

Key Takeaways 

  • Blockchain gaming reached 1.5 million dUAW, commanding 28% of January’s industry activity.
  • BNB Chain becomes the leading blockchain ecosystem for gaming activity with 215,000 dUAW.
  • Polygon sees a 118% increase in daily activity, with 118,000 unique active wallets (UAW) following Gas Hero’s launch by Find Satoshi Lab.
  • motoDEX remains the most used gaming dapp, surpassing 116,120 dUAW.
  • The metaverse market saw a 10% decrease in trading volume to $54.7 million and a 14% drop in NFT sales, totaling 372,000.
  • Web3 gaming investments reached $89 million, a 42% drop from January 2023.

Table of Contents 

  1. Blockchain Gaming Overview
  2. January Gaming Leaders
  3. Metaverse trading reaches $54.7 million
  4. Ronin and HYTOPIA tokens surge
  5. $89 million in Web3 gaming investments
  6. Closing words

1. Blockchain Gaming Overview

The dapp industry, as highlighted in our January Dapp Industry Report, has reached a remarkable milestone, boasting 5.5 million dUAW (daily unique active wallets). This now marks the highest figure to date. The realm of gaming, which continues to reign supreme in 2024, maintains a share of 28% over all activity in the dapp industry. However, despite this dominance, the number of UAW remains consistent with the previous month, hovering around 1.5 million unique wallets engaging with gaming dapps.

activity in the blockchain industry in january 2024, users

A notable shift is observed in the social category, which has seen a notable uptick in dominance, reaching 16% this month. This observation is significant as it underscores the intertwined relationship between social dapps and gaming. Social dapps, often equipped with gamification elements, offer users a blend of functional utility and recreational gaming experiences. This correlation elucidates the surge witnessed this month.

Moreover, a burgeoning narrative within the gaming industry revolves around “play-to-airdrop” (P2A). This trend aims to appeal to the steadfast Web3 gaming community, which has been pivotal in propelling Web3 gaming into the mainstream since 2021. The potential of P2A surpassing its predecessor, play-to-earn (P2E), remains uncertain, because its long-term implications on the gaming landscape are yet to be fully understood.

Turning to gaming blockchains, Ronin has ascended to the second position this month, signaling a potential resurgence, particularly fueled by platforms like Pixels, which are fully immersed in the P2A narrative.

Total activity on the gaming blockchains in January 2024

Additionally, Polygon has experienced a surge in activity following the launch of Gas Hero, the latest crypto-powered game developed by Find Satoshi Lab, renowned for the “move-to-earn” Stepn app on Solana. Gas Hero’s public beta release has spurred significant interest, with various Gas Hero NFT collections dominating sales volume charts as traders avidly acquire in-game assets.

Furthermore, Immutable zkEVM, a novel gaming-centric Ethereum layer-2 network leveraging Polygon’s zkEVM technology, has launched its mainnet in early access.  This early version of the blockchain ecosystem provides developers with an initial opportunity to commence building on the platform.

2024 appears to be a promising year for the gaming industry, marked by significant advancements in infrastructure development. This signals a period of growth and opportunity, fueling anticipation for the evolution of gaming ecosystems in the months ahead.

2. January Gaming Leaders

In the dynamic world of Web3 gaming, keeping an eye on the top performers based on unique active wallets is crucial. For those new to the term, unique active wallets refer to distinct digital wallets engaging with a gaming dapp.

Top games in web3 or blockchain by activity and new wallets in january 2024

MotoDEX remains at the forefront as the premier Web3 game, showcasing its dominant position in the industry. Among the top climbers, Chain Colosseum Phoenix and Starry Nift have made significant strides. The remarkable growth of Chain Colosseum Phoenix can be attributed to its recent partnerships by Oasys with DappRadar, and other data platforms, enhancing game discovery on the blockchain. Meanwhile, Starry Nift captures user interest with the enticing prospect of token rewards in its anticipated airdrop.

Expanding the horizon of decentralized gaming, Anichess, a branch of the esteemed Animoca Brands, has introduced a groundbreaking Web3-infused chess game. In Anichess players experience traditional chess gameplay with innovative blockchain technology and a bit of gameplay magic. 

In addition, Azuki is set to delve into the gaming sector with an engaging hyper-casual mobile game featuring its BEANZ characters, which should hit the market later this year. At the same time, Yuga Labs is gearing up for the early 2024 launch of the eagerly awaited Dookey Dash Unclogged game, promising an exciting new adventure for gamers.

Finally, perhaps one of the biggest game releases of January has been Nifty Island. This game world filled with user generated content revolutionizes the play-to-earn model with its free open beta, offering a “play-to-airdrop” scheme. Participants can secure rewards by completing daily quests, adding an exciting layer of engagement to the gaming experience. Moreover, Nifty Island has partnered with over 120 NFT communities, allowing them to use their own avatar character inside the game.

3. Metaverse trading reaches $54.7 million

The metaverse, once at the peak of investor enthusiasm during the 2022 bull run, faced a reality check with the bear market. Prices and trading volumes plummeted, but the sector’s pioneers kept building, laying the groundwork for a resurgence.

2024 seems to mark a pivotal year, with Apple’s launch of the Vision Pro headset reigniting interest in metaverse applications. Notably, Victoria VR’s announcement of the first blockchain-related metaverse app for the Vision Pro hints at a fusion of crypto with advanced VR technologies, promising ultra-realistic and immersive experiences.

This year, our analysis extends beyond land sales to include the trading volume of metaverse-related NFT collections, which encompass virtual objects and items for use within these digital realms. January saw a trading volume of $54.7 million and 372,000 sales of metaverse-items-NFTs. This means a decrease of 10% in trading volume, while also a 14% drop in sales compared to the previous period. 

Metaverse trading volume and sales count in January 2024

Analyzing the top metaverse dapps by trading volume over the past 30 days, Pixelmon emerges as a frontrunner, buoyed by a recent $8 million investment from a consortium of investors including Animoca Brands and Delphi Ventures. Pixelmon’s introduction of the Mon Protocol, a system for intellectual property fractionalization, represents a significant innovation in the Web3 space.

Lands by Pixels ranks second, continuing to attract attention with its play-to-airdrop narrative. The platform’s ability to engage over 349,000 new wallets this month alone highlights its growing popularity. Land holders can generate BERRY on a daily basis, while also becoming eligible for the PIXEL rewards.

As 2024 unfolds, the sector may well realize the potential of the countless projects that have persevered through the bear market, supported by the infusion of interest from both legacy tech companies and innovative startups. The metaverse is rising once again, promising a future where digital and physical realities converge more seamlessly than ever before.

4. Ronin and HYTOPIA tokens surge

With the onset of 2024 witnessing a surge in the broader crypto token market, our focus turns to gaming tokens that have experienced notable price increases over the past 30 days, based on data collected as of February 7, 2024.

Top 5 gaming tokens by % increase in January 2024, Ronin, Chromia, Magic with Teasure DAO and Topia with WRLD

Leading the pack is Chromia’s token CHR, boasting a remarkable 57% increase in value. For insights into their January 2024 updates, refer to their official blog post here: Chromia January 2024 Update. 

Following closely is Ronin, which has seen a 52% surge subsequent to its recent listing on Binance. However, prior to the listing, a combination of token accumulation evident on blockchain scanners and leaked communications from Binance resulted in insider accumulation of RON tokens, leading to a subsequent sell-off post-listing and a decline in price.

Additionally, Treasure DAO’s token MAGIC experienced a notable 33% increase, attributed to the project nearing its primary goal of establishing an ’interconnected network of games’ through its latest venture, Treasure Infinity Chains. The DAO shared a litepaper outlining the ambitious gaming project on X.

Lastly, HYTOPIA, formerly known as NFT Worlds, witnessed a 32% increase in its TOPIA token value following the announcement of a significant expansion plan. This includes the integration of partner games into its new HYCHAIN and the migration to Arbitrum’s Anytrust technology, signaling a strategic move towards enhanced scalability and interoperability.

5. $89 million in Web3 gaming investments

The onset of 2024 witnessed a substantial flow of investments into the blockchain gaming sector, amounting to $89 million in January. This figure represents a 42% decrease compared to the investments made in January 2023. While at first glance, this downturn might seem alarming, it’s essential to understand it within the context of the broader market conditions. The past year has been challenging for the industry, with the prolonged bear market setting a new precedent for financial caution and strategic investments.

Investments in Web3 gaming projects in January 2024

A dominant share of $49.7 million, equating to 55% of the total investments, was directed towards Web3 gaming projects. $37 million, or 37% of the investments, were allocated to the development of gaming infrastructure.  A smaller portion, $2.5 million, was invested in metaverse-related projects.

One of the standout investments was the $15 million funding secured by SkyArk Chronicles. However, the announcement of this investment became controversial due to a miscommunication with Binance. Initially, SkyArk Chronicles announced a partnership with Binance, which was later denied by the latter. This incident led to Binance Labs demanding the retraction of any mentions from SkyArk Chronicles’ communications, culminating in the project removing the relevant announcement without further clarification.

Additionally, two innovative projects, MixMob and Age of Dinos, demonstrated the potential of in-game NFTs by raising $2.5 million and $5.7 million, respectively. These investments are significant as they reflect a growing trend towards integrating NFTs within games, not merely as collectibles but as integral components of the gaming experience. This approach not only enhances gameplay, but also opens new avenues for player engagement and investment in the gaming ecosystem.

As we navigate through 2024, the investment trends of January suggest that while the blockchain gaming sector is recalibrating after a challenging year, the enthusiasm for its potential remains undiminished. 

6. Closing Words

The current landscape of the blockchain gaming industry in 2024 evokes reminiscent flashes of the transformative period experienced in 2021. Just as the narrative of ‘play-to-earn’ catalyzed a new bull run and reshaped the gaming landscape, the emergence of the ‘play-to-airdrop’ narrative signifies another pivotal moment in the industry’s evolution.

Moreover, it is intriguing to witness gaming studios and projects strategically shifting their focus towards attracting Web2 gamers, while concurrently preparing their technology to onboard the next billion users. This concerted effort reflects a proactive approach to expanding accessibility and inclusivity within the blockchain gaming sphere.

Ultimately, the prevailing sentiment in 2024 is one of optimism and anticipation for the future. As the industry continues to innovate and adapt, propelled by new narratives and technological advancements, it sets the stage for a promising era of growth and opportunity.

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