What is a Blockchain Game?

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The gaming industry is rapidly evolving. It has been at the forefront of technological research for decades, incorporating the latest technologies to improve the gaming experience.

Ever since blockchain emerged as a new part of our digital lives, it has been explored and tested by some of the most brilliant people in the world. They realized that blockchain technology could be used for much more than just creating cryptocurrencies. 

The merging of blockchain technology and online games was inevitable, resulting in blockchain-based titles, which are the main topic of discussion in this article. 

Blockchain gaming basics

Let’s briefly cover some blockchain gaming basics. After all, it would be quite difficult to understand how these games work if you don’t understand what blockchain is.

What is blockchain?

Essentially, blockchain is a method of storing information in a database where each new entry to the database is encrypted and added to the chain consisting of other encrypted bundles. 

What is a blockchain game?

A blockchain game is a video game that uses blockchain technology to store game data on a decentralized network. The term “blockchain game” can also refer to games that use cryptocurrency or digital assets (such as NFTs) as in-game currency.

Concept of blockchain games

Blockchain games contain the elements of blockchain technology (often used in P2E games). This can be done in two different ways or a combination of them: 

  • By adapting or developing gaming cryptocurrency; or
  • By creating and applying NFTs within the game. 

One popular way to introduce blockchain is by creating an in-game currency (tokens) used for trading in the game. A player can use tokens to buy items, upgrades, skins, and more.

So, how is an in-game currency created with blockchain different from standard non-game money? 

Essentially, a game moderator can add, modify, and delete the number of in-game non-blockchain coins. If the money is on the chain, it cannot be tampered with in any way. Therefore, it creates a fair gaming environment and ensures that no one takes advantage of centralized game money.

Some games use established coins for trading, while others create their own gaming tokens. You can check this list of top blockchain games.  

What about in-game items? 

Can they still be modified and deleted? No, they can’t. In-game items are also programmed using blockchain technology and are referred to as gaming NFTs

» Learn more: NFT games guide for beginners

Let’s elaborate.

What are NFTs?

If you have any experience with cryptos or blockchain, you’ve probably heard about NFTs. It’s quite a buzzword among crypto enthusiasts, but many also don’t completely understand what they are and how they work.

NFT stands for a non-fungible token. To explain that, we need to explain what fungible tokens are. They are instances of on-chain items that can be exchanged for each other. Bitcoin is a fungible token. If you give one BTC to your friend and they give you one BTC, you’ll both end up with the same thing.

However, if you have an in-game sword on the chain and you want to exchange it with a bow, you won’t have an identical item. Every in-game item recorded on the chain is completely unique and cannot be swapped for other items, which is why they’re referred to as non-fungible tokens.

NFTs live outside the gaming industry, providing an opportunity to create virtual art and sell it online through different types of projects. There are many NFT marketplaces (Opensea is one example) where you can buy valuable art pieces.

People often wonder if they can just take a screenshot of a digital NFT piece of art and enjoy it for free. Well, you can also hire a professional painter to paint you a Mona Lisa for much less money than the original, but it still won’t be the original. That’s the same with virtual art — the originals are on the chain, and each has an identification number that makes it unique, meaning that you can store them in only one wallet at a time.  

» Learn more: How to buy an NFT for the first time

Types of blockchain games

As stated above, combining blockchain with gaming is still a fairly new development. We’re just getting started with the current games, with most of them being pretty simple and straightforward. Because of that, it’s difficult to come up with game categories at this point. 

The following genres are our attempts at delineating the types of blockchain games from each other, but please keep in mind that the lines are often blurred between them, and new blockchain game genres could emerge in the future. 

  • Collectible games: These games usually focus on NFTs, and the goal is to collect and take care of your in-game NFTs. Perhaps the most popular example (and probably the first one) is CryptoKitties, which allows you to breed digital kittens.
  • MMO games: MMO stands for massively multiplayer online games, and there are several such titles, including Hexarchia, Farsite, and Star Atlas. Most of these games give players digital ownership of the item character, thanks to blockchain.
  • Action games: This genre incorporates all kinds of different games that have any type of action. Some of the most popular titles are Mist, Zeal, Forest Knight, War of Crypta, and others.
  • RPG games: The number of RPG games based on blockchain is relatively low, but they are slowly developing. RPG is a good genre to use combined with NFTs because you can create entire ecosystems. These are often open-world games, where you can interact with other players, trade with them, or go on a quest together. Some popular options are Axie Infinity, NFT Panda, and Guild of Guardians.
  • Strategy games: Like traditional strategy games, the ones on blockchain also help you to build a world and wage war, but some of them also feature things such as crypto-backed units and rare artifacts that make them more entertaining. Great examples are War of Ants, Star Atlas, and Taurion.
  • Open-world (virtual) games: These games let you roam around, hang out with other avatars, and more. Some of these options are also very creator-friendly, meaning that you can create unique in-game items and mint them. Perhaps the most popular example is Decentraland, which is basically a virtual reality platform (the word metaverse is often used in this context). Players can own a virtual estate designed and created by other players, with each estate being an NFT. Decentraland uses the MANA coin for in-game transactions. Apart from Decentraland, other popular games belonging to this category are The Sandbox, Axie Infinity, and more.

» Learn more: Blockchain games types and genres

Final thoughts

What does the future of blockchain-based gaming look like?

Introducing blockchain to games was a welcome development. Many huge companies have started exploring building blockchain-based games or introducing the technology into their existing systems.

Therefore, it’s safe to conclude that the relationship between games and blockchain will become even stronger in the future, creating real ecosystems for various in-game worlds. Imagine playing World of Warcraft, where each item is an NFT and is limited, with the only way to acquire them being to buy them or to kill a really difficult boss. Cool, isn’t it?

We’re sadly certain that gaming companies will use cryptos and NFTs to squeeze the pockets of game lovers further, as it will become easier than ever to make in-game purchases. On top of this, players will have more incentive to spend money on games, which may cause the gaming industry to evolve in a way that would cater to big spenders (like pay-to-win games on mobile at the moment).

Article by
Artem Minaev