Blockchain-based video games are taking the world by storm. Yes, this is a worldwide phenomenon spanning Asia, Latin America, Europe, and North America. Entire communities have been built around NFT games, and that is for a good reason. They look great, are competitively balanced and viable, and most importantly, they’re fun and rewarding for casual and competitive gamers alike.
And given the popularity of these decentralized play-to-earn games, it’s clear this new gaming model is a serious competitor to the traditional centralized gaming ecosystem. Axie Infinity earned $780 million just this July. That’s a lot of money for such a young industry, and the potential is sky-high right now.
Play to Earn Blockchain Games: An Overview
To give you a sense of the size of this market, I looked at some numbers on playtoearn.net. For games using smart contracts on Ethereum in 24 hours (Sept. 21, 2021), there were:
- 6,490 users
- 8,297 transactions
- $8,565,331 (value of Ethereum used in smart contracts)
That works out to USD 3.18 billion per year spent in blockchain-based games in Year Zero, aka right now. This will be an immense industry.
One of the largest blockchain-based video games, Axie Infinity, already has millions of users, many who play the game for entertainment and revenue. A striking example: 40 percent of Axie Infinity’s user base is in the Philippines. Players are making enough money that the government expects people to pay taxes on their earnings. (See Axie Infinity players in the Philippines may have to start paying tax on trading ‘pets.’)
This is nothing less than a revolution in the video gaming and entertainment industry, spearheaded by NFT and blockchain technology, enabling players of all skill levels to earn real money playing video games.
NFT Games Provide Real-World Financial Value
Traditionally, video games involved spending cash to purchase in-game currency to purchase in-game items then. At best, players might be able to sell in-game items back into in-game currency, be it Gems or Gold, or Mora. But Gems never go back to USD.
Video games, as fun as they may be, have always been a money sink. Even in games where there are methods to turn in-game items into real cash, such as Counter-Strike, users must rely on third-party sites and online trading forums, both of which can be risky and are often littered with scammers and frauds.
Blockchain games get rid of both of these issues, making the flow of cash a two-way street. You can put money into the game to purchase characters and items, and you can then exchange your in-game earnings for cash. Blockchain-based platforms provide seamless integration of gameplay, in-game economy, and real-world financial value.
What does this mean? Take a game like StarCrazy, built on the Iotex blockchain. One of the fundamental transactions in this game is the buying and selling of Starz, cat-like creatures that, through playing the game, allow players to mine in-game currency and progress through the game. However, unlike conventional video games, this in-game currency is also a token on the Iotex blockchain: in this case, the currency is called $GFT and $GFS. These tokens can at any time be converted into other coins or even fiat on cryptocurrency exchanges such as Mimo, Bitmart, or Binance, to name a few.
And here’s another major plus with these new play-to-earn games; when you mine tokens, that is, lend the game your tokens to provide the capital needed to run the game’s economy, players receive 100% of the rewards. That’s the case with StarCrazy, which has a 100% GFS Token allocation: 100% of tokens are given to players mining the token and providing governance. There is no centralized company to skim a percentage off the top. This is key to what makes these games an entirely new model.
So yes, Mom, with blockchain-based gaming, my video games provide me entertainment AND an APY. Instead of being a money sink, games can easily become a moneymaker, providing tangible real-world value and, therefore, legitimate investing opportunities.
Axie Infinity: Not so Easy to Play to Earn
The video game synonymous with blockchain games at the moment is Axie Infinity. However, as successful as Axie Infinity is, the game faces two main obstacles to long-term growth and survival. Let’s take a look at these issues and how Starcrazy aims to address them and improve the user experience.
- Entry cost: The massive surge of Axie players in recent months has driven the cost of entry sky high. A player must own three Axies (in-game characters with unique NFTs) to play the game. As of September 20th, most official marketplace listings for Axies cost somewhere between $100 to $400. You’d likely spend well over $300 just to start playing the game. Of course, the more you spend, the more you earn (generally), and players often spend $1000+ to build a solid team.
- Gas Fees: If the price of Axies is worrying, then gas fees might scare you as well. Axie Infinity is built on the Ethereum blockchain, which is obsolete compared to the many new innovative blockchain networks. This becomes most apparent in gas fees: to post transactions, such as buying or selling Axies or exchanging AXS to USDT, Ethereum charges a fee to verify and then subsequently add data to their network. Prices have increased dramatically over the past few months to between $40 to $80 in fees to deposit or withdraw AXS (Viewable on axie.live). For perspective, most players earn between $30 to $50 daily playing the game. So a single withdrawal or deposit of AXS costs you an entire day’s worth of earnings. That feels almost as bad as paying taxes.
Iotex and StarCrazy Lower the Barrier to Entry
StarCrazy, which just concluded a successful beta and is scheduled for a September 27th official release, will provide gamers and investors alike with a much more accessible entry point.
Gamefantasy, the developer of StarCrazy, realized the obvious and implemented it into its beta: players could get started with just a few dollars worth of $GFT to purchase the two “Starz” NFTs/characters necessary to play the game. This is much more appealing to casual players who want to try out blockchain games without dropping hundreds of dollars on NFTs.
Of course, StarCrazy knows that serious players utilize NFT games as a source of income, so they’ve continued to cater towards this audience. Many players made hundreds of dollars during the beta period, which is a princely sum in the Philippines, Indonesia, and other places where NFT games are more than enough to make a living. As this beta player in StarCrazy has discovered:
This is beyond my expectation. It was so much fun playing this game. How can I think that I spent $14 and got $1,200 in 2 weeks! And now the game is getting better. What a crazy project. That’s why it’s called StarCrazy.
—Ratu Manggis, India, Beta Player
On top of NFT prices that cater to every possible player, gas fees in StarCrazy are extremely low. With Iotex as the backbone for all transactions, a proven blockchain network capable of blazing-fast 5-second transactions, and high scalability and volume, fees will rarely exceed fractions of a cent. This allows players to freely deposit, withdraw, buy, and sell at absurdly low gas fees, increasing and improving market activity, liquidity, and user experience. After all, no one wants to burn their earnings with in-game taxes.
Is StarCrazy The Future of Blockchain Gaming?
Iotex and StarCrazy have built a compelling video game to compete within the Pay to Earn genre. For those looking to dip their feet into the system, they’ve successfully shown in their beta that play-to-earn games can be played with pocket change, as opposed to games like Axie Infinity which can leave players deciding between upgrading their Axies or making their monthly car payment.
At the same time, they’ll ensure that serious gamers will be able to generate sizable returns befitting their investments. And with the Iotex network, users can transact freely at almost no cost to themselves. What remains to be seen, of course, is the public response following its September 27th release. But if the beta was to be any indication, StarCrazy is headed towards a great success.