Top Game-Fi Projects That We’re Watching

April 10, 2024
Gaming
Polygon
Avalanche

When I heard the adage “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” for the first time, I felt sad for Jack and the boring life he was living. Whelp! We’re living the same life now, aren’t we? If Jack is still around, he’d probably fit in well into the crypto space. The market never sleeps and never allows you to sleep. Whether it’s trying to find out the next big narrative or merely keeping up with the updates and launches of new projects and protocols, one needs to dedicate almost their entire time in an attempt to stay up-to-date.

But hey, as oxymoronic as it may sound, it is time to hit pause - to play!

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When I heard the adage “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” for the first time, I felt sad for Jack and the boring life he was living. Whelp! We’re living the same life now, aren’t we? If Jack is still around, he’d probably fit in well into the crypto space. The market never sleeps and never allows you to sleep. Whether it’s trying to find out the next big narrative or merely keeping up with the updates and launches of new projects and protocols, one needs to dedicate almost their entire time in an attempt to stay up-to-date.

But hey, as oxymoronic as it may sound, it is time to hit pause - to play!

Projects from the crypto space have known how to time their releases and deliver the right things at the right time. With the advent of decentralization, creators put gaming and finance under the same roof and created Game-Fi. Game-Fi today is a combination of DeFi + X to Earn [variants of P2E] + New narratives and compelling storylines + Metaverse experiences. There is no capped definition per se, but if I were to define Game-Fi today, I’d say:

It is a virtual space in Web 3.0 where degens play games. It is a place to chill and hang out with homies. It is about fetching NFTs, storing virtual belongings, exchanging avatars, and breeding them. It’s your very own playground that has its roots on the blockchain.

Why should Game-Fi excite you?

All this might sound cool, but the pertinent question remains - What keeps people hooked, and why exactly do they sign up for Web3 games? The obvious answer is generally… they’re getting paid. The P2E or Play to Earn concept has been acting like a magnet since the debut of Game-Fi 1.0. In fact, this characteristic has aged like fine wine and continues to be the heartbeat of today’s revolutionized Game-Fi 2.0 ecosystem too.

But with all this financialization penetration, some forgot to ask - “shouldn’t the games be fun?”

Today’s developers have a balancing act to pull off. They must add financialization where it makes sense and doesn’t impede on the basic joys of gaming. Owning your own supercar NFT in Forza is dope, but signing a Metamask transaction to pay for gasoline is immersion-destroying.

The Game-Fi space is expanding in size with every passing day. Stats from Footprint Analytics point out that the Web3 gaming space has over 2.3 million daily active users at the moment and has registered a promising growth of >75% so far in 2024. There are over 2900 games that have already been put to sea since inception and we’ve registered a growth of around 3.5% so far this year.

On the blockchain front, BNB is the most happening ecosystem for Web3 games. At the moment, there are more than 402 active games on this chain. Polygon and Ethereum stand next on the list with 291 and 235 up-and-running games in their respective ecosystems.

A recent gaming report from blockchain gaming accelerator Game 7 pointed out that RPGs {Role Playing Games} and action games are the most sought-after genres in Web3 gaming. Together, they command a 40% share. The remaining share is divided between other genres including strategy, sports, card games, stimulation, social, AV/VR, etc.

Parallelly, it’s notable that 4/5th of developers have been choosing Layer 1 networks to build their games on. Only the remaining 1/5th of them have been oscillating between Layer 2s and Appchains {customized networks built to cater to the needs of a specific game/ecosystem/app}.

In this report, we’re going to delve into Game-Fi projects that have tangents associated with:

  • ERC 404
  • BRC 20 Initial Coin Offerings {ICOs}
  • Subnets
  • ERC 1155
  • Initial NFT Offerings {INOs}
  • AppChains
  • Gasless-economies
  • Soulbound Tokens {SBTs}
  • AI
  • E-sports
  • Modularity
  • DePIN
  • Gamble-Fi
  • Farming {with a twist!}

Sweat Economy

Hear me out - Instead of merely grinning at your smartwatch every time it shows that you’ve completed a mile, you can tokenize and monetize every single footstep of yours. You Move to Earn.

Alright, so how does it all work?

  • SWEAT, the native asset of the protocol, is only minted by movement.
  • Proof of Movement: Steps need to be validated by movement validators.
  • The higher the number of users, the higher the number of steps, and retrospectively, higher the minting.
  • It will get harder to mint SWEAT with time. This means, if you sweat now, you’ll earn more. Initially, in 2022, one had to walk 1,000 steps to earn 1 SWEAT. The number kept progressively rising. By November last year, it was up to 4800. At the time of writing, the number was hovering around 5,429 and will only keep rising.

Shake it till you make it?

At the moment, the Sweatcoin app verifies the steps as the validator, but going forward, the team intends to tie up with brands like Fitbit, Peloton, etc. to enable tracking. The official app currently collects raw data from your device. So “phone shakers” and “SWEAT fakers” better watch out.

Fundamentals

The Sweat Economy is built on top of the Near blockchain. As a rule of thumb, every blockchain requires its own native crypto asset to be used to pay gas fees. However, people from the Sweat Economy don’t seem to be very happy about this precondition and have time and again complained about it.

Reviews on Google Play Store

Instead of turning a deaf ear, the Sweat team is currently creating a new technology alongside Near to allow users to utilize SWEAT as gas fees. This update is expected to be rolled out in H1 2024 and is deemed to be the first of its kind {at least on the Near blockchain}.

Similar to ERC-7221’s blueprint, a third party {relayer} pays fees in the native blockchain currency on behalf of users. So, when this proposal is eventually rolled out,

  • Users can pay for their transactions via SWEAT
  • In return, the Sweat Economy will pay for the gas in NEAR

That being said, it should be noted that the gas fee paid in SWEAT will be slightly on the higher end. The Sweat Economy will cover its costs via the SWEAT fee, and then the remaining will be marked as profits to be burned {at least 50%}. The team will also enable users to choose to pay via NEAR instead of SWEAT in the future, however, this option will not be at user’s disposal upon initial release. Going forward, by H2 2024, they also intend to enable SWEAT gas payments on other chains as well. This is the part I’m most excited about - a  Move to Earn gaming project powering chain abstraction. Seems revolutionary for sure!

Sweat Economy game

Sweat Economy also has another in-house game - Sweat Heros - that is in the works. The game is currently in the open beta mode where users can litmus test the game. The gaming concept, by itself, seems to be a compulsive one. On-screen, you’ll have tiles moving at a pace 10x faster than an escalator. You just have to make as many perfect steps as you can by tapping accurately on the screen every time a tile lands on the highlighted territory.

You will be put to competition against an opponent and whoever fares well ends up fetching rewards. Stepping out and walking every day will obviously help you earn SWEAT, but playing the digital version of the game alongside will help you fetch more rewards.

In the beginning, you don’t necessarily have to shell out anything to play the game. You’ll be given a free ‘Legs’ NFT + 3 Energy Points + a random NFT power value. The power is a proxy to your NFT’s ability and holds the key to deciding how much you’ll receive from every perfect tap. Every battle uses 1 energy point.

Who’s backing the project? In mid-2022 Sweat Economy wrapped up its $13 million funding round. Prominent blockchain investors including the likes of Electric Capital, Spartan Capital, OKX Blockdream Ventures, Swissborg Ventures, GSR Ventures, and Goodwater Capital poured money into the project.

Our take on Sweat Economy

This project might not have the glitz and glam, super-cool graphic designing, or that AAA experience that you might be looking for, but I like the fact that these people are trying to inculcate a healthy lifestyle amongst community members by incentivizing them. Can’t assert that they could make this a movement per se, but I’m borderline optimistic for now.

All this being said, there have been several cloud bursts of late and not everything is sunshine and roses within the Sweat Economy. Developers have temporarily retired the game on iOS devices. As of now, there's no specific date to look forward to its relaunch. However, the team has assured users that it will be back up soon. Not everyone is happy with the way Sweat Hero has been working. Android users also had issues a while back. But the team deserves the benefit of the doubt because the game is still in its beta stage. There have been several public callouts on platforms like Reddit. Users have not been very welcoming of the minimum threshold required to convert battle coins to SWEAT. In fact, they also feel that the way NFT power works ain’t fair either. I also came across a host of complaints where people revealed that they were not being able to claim their rewards.

While some have outrightly called it a scam, most others continue to back the project sharing their experience about how their issues were catered to and solved, even if it took some extra time. I am, in particular, waiting to see how the SWEAT as gas fee feature actually pans out. If everything goes well, it could be another watershed moment from the fundamental POV for the project, and the ecosystem as a whole.

Yuliverse

If you’ve been a fan of Treasure Hunts, Yuliverse might just be the game for you. The game takes place in Terra, a parallel metaverse-based universe that is engulfed in darkness. Players - in the form of Yuli characters - seek to purify the Terra. Taking a leaf out of Pokemon Go and Tinder’s books, you’ll have to complete challenges and quests in the real world to complete the purification task.

Your smartphone will be your guide on treasure hunts and will help you navigate IRL locations based on in-game maps and hints. The progress of your movement is tracked by the app, and you’re rewarded for every measure undertaken to cleanse the Terra.

Pokemon Go - check! Now you may ask, what about Tinder? Well, social interaction is another key focal point of Yuliverse. The game encourages players to stumble upon other fellow Yulis while they’re wandering across their city. It’s all up to you to transform that bond into either friendship, partnership, or rivalry. The game uses a location-based service matching mechanism to simplify the process of players to connect each other. While purifying the Terra in your city, you can leave marks around. This will help others during their purification task and parallelly assist them initiate communication requests.

Also, if you’re not a fan of socializing (we know our audience), then worry not! You can stick to the solo mode. You get to decide it all.

Your gaming actions and progress will help you unveil secrets. Purifying the Terra will not only help you restore back balance but will also help you get access to hidden puzzles and ‘memories’ that will help you weave the plot. The mystery box system is the icing on the cake. Obtaining rare Yuli NFTs and tactfully breeding them also helps unveil mysteries.

The game was initially released as a pay-to-play version, where users had to buy an entry ticket in the form of an NFT. However, Yuliverse introduced a free-to-play version in 2023, eliminating entry unnecessary barriers. In fact, on the back of this development, the DAU jumped by 142%. Even though free characters are available for players to try and test out the game, owning Yuli NFTs comes along with being entitled to additional benefits like acquiring ARG and ART tokens via game participation and breeding.

There are two native tokens of the Yuliverse ecosystem: ARG {Alternate Reality Gem -  not to be confused with Argentine Football Association’s fan token!!!} and ART {Alternate Reality Token}. The first one is the primary currency within the game. Players earn it by completing various activities - more like a reward to the proof of participation. ARG can also be used as a medium of exchange to upgrade Yulis, buy sanity items, and take part in breeding. This token has an infinite supply.The second token, i.e. ART, is a limited-edition token. It has specific use cases that revolve around land and other sophisticated purchases pertaining to higher levels. ART has a finite total supply of 8 billion tokens.

True tech enthusiasts and fundamental geeks are always looking to test new waters. ERC 404 has been one such narrative that managed to grab everyone’s eyeballs. Yuliverse is no exception. This project has decided to jump onto the bandwagon by converting its NFTs to the 404 standard. Playing with the full deck would not be the wisest choice, so the team has decided to only proceed with the transition of the core NFTs to boost liquidity. Again, it is up to the users if they want to convert their NFTs to the new standard - it’s not obligatory.

Who’s backing the project? Animoca Ventures, LIF Capital, and Cyberport Hong Kong, among others.

Our take on Yuliverse

If you want a game that has a plot, and a story to tell, then Yuliverse is your game. The way they’ve amalgamated real-world exploration with Web3 elements like NFTs, and slowly hopping onto the 404 standard stands out. It’s not something out of the box, but they’ve been doing their part in trying to excite people. Guess what? They’ve fairly been successful in doing so. Yuliverse has cemented a spot for itself in the top-10 gaming project list for quite some time and boasts of 80k+ unique active wallets. The gameplay is engaging, the UI is pretty good - it’ll keep you engrossed.

As fun and adventurous as it may sound, the app is currently not available in several regions. Nevertheless, users have been trying to bypass and get through by using VPNs and other loopholes. Not sure if the game’s hype will sustain, but the retention rate depicts that users have found the game engaging and have been sticking around. If they end up stabbing the project’s back like your toxic ex and flock away to a new game with a better narrative in the future, then there might be a Yuli-quake. Until then, all’s good.

StarryNift

StarryNift is all about creating NFTs and publishing spaces. It’s like you’re decorating your home but in the metaverse. You create to earn. You get to hang your NFTs on the wall - you can tamper with the position, the size - pretty much everything. Alongside, you also get to choose between other pre-existing 3D items in the library to add to your space - interiors, furniture, plants, gadgets, ornaments - you name it, you have it all in the library. Once you’re done decorating the space, you get to publish/launch it.

StarryNift has emerged to be the top gaming project on the BNB chain. On the weekly front, over 238k users have participated. Evidently, this is more than 6x the very next contender - making it the crowd-favorite project. So, what’s so special about this StarryNift that it has been able to attract the masses?

This project unites everyone - {may they be DAOs or community members or projects} to develop their metaverse. Uniting => pooling resources => they can together utilize more services + use additional features + explore more

How’d you earn on this co-creation metaverse platform? Playing, creating, or staking.

StarryNift has made use of multiple blockchain networks to build different products. It has also broken down barriers by providing cross-chain bridges for users to transfer collectibles. Using ERC-1155, StarryNift can obtain datasets efficiently and draw parallels with other datasets to reach aggregation. Context time: ERC-1155 is a multiple token standard that creates a smart contract interface that can umbrella both fungible and non-fungible token types. Yeah, an ERC-1155 token can carry out the same functions as both ERC-20 {normal token standard} and ERC-721 {NFT standard} tokens. It is kinda similar to ERC-404, but what distinguishes it is that 1155 caters to a specific unique NFT, while 404 could be applied entirely to a collection. Tricked you into actually learning something, anon.

Citizenship - or your digital identity - is one of the key features of this project. Once you become a citizen, you will be entitled to several benefits. First and foremost, you can unlock unique Soulbound Tokens {SBTs} representing your digital achievements. SBTs represent traits, achievements, and features that make up your digital identity. These tokens are non-transferable and are issued by souls {blockchain accounts/wallets}. How do you acquire citizenship? You just have to connect your wallet and mint the pass.

The citizen card/pass is a pre-requisite to participate in the earn economy of StarryNift. Like how ENS names are domains for the decentralized world, the citizenship pass is users’ identity in the Metaverse.

The team never launched a token during inception. At that time, they clarified that they would only issue their tokens when the StarryNift community is large enough. Fast-forward to December 2023, the team released its tokenomics blueprint, chalking out the team’s vision. 10% of tokens will be allotted for an initial airdrop. Parallelly, holders of NFTs from the oldest collection - Code Green - will receive tokens via the reward-sharing mechanism. The team will be eligible for 5% of the token allocation. These tokens will have a 1-year cliff + linear vesting over 5 years. One of the long-term visions is to ensure that the token can be used to pay gas fees to deploy dApps on new protocols and sidechains. With the Sweat Economy already leading the way in this regard, it’ll be interesting to see how this pans out for StarryNift.

Who’s backing the project? StarryNift raised $10 million in a mid-2022 funding round. Binance Labs, BSC Fund, and GBV Capital took part along with currently defunct Alameda Research. Susquehanna {the OG investor of TikTok’s Chinese parent} led the round.

Our take on StarryNift

If you loveeee creating, designing, and decorating spaces, then StarryNift has to be your go-to option in the Web3 arena. You can customize everything as you wish using their technical tools. May you be a Tom, Dick, Harry, or a creator, an investor, or an avid collector - there’s something in there for everyone. You can use algos to create NFTs and seek input to increase the rarity of those items, etc. Likewise, you could also link up with others from the space to come up with something new altogether. If you feel that the “game” vibe is missing from StarryNift, then perhaps the hidden cards, mystery boxes, and other elements would make up for it.

They also have their own launchpad and every collection listed over there receives support from the StarryNift team - right from marketing to BD and everything else in between. There are daily raffles also that will keep you lurking around. Their tokenomics seems to be quite un-cooked at this stage, but what they’re doing by leveraging the multi-token ERC standard is versatile. 721 is kinda solid as a standard, but it’s plagued with high minting and transaction fees. The 1155 standard, on the other hand, is more progressive and gives users more room to wiggle around - making it another positive takeaway.  

Bitcoin Dogs

Alongside fundamentally strong projects, several fun projects have also been making their way into the market. Right now, liquidity has been flowing into memes over the past couple of months, with both new and old tokens shattering records and clinching highs. Capital rotation is a part and parcel of the game, and whether you like it or not, the market has been dancing to the collective tune of barks and ribbits lately.

In the Game-Fi space, Bitcoin Dogs have been barking quite loudly. Just like any other game, you’ll have a set of tasks to complete on a daily basis - may it be feeding dogs with food from the store, creating a diet chart, taking care and nurturing them, etc. However, you’ll have to possess in-house BARK tokens - that can be earned by sharing posts on social media - to fulfill your gaming duties. Time and again, events and shows will be held where your dog will compete with others.

If whole-heartedly cared for, the dogs will grow in size and after a point, they will become eligible to work and farm 0DOG tokens - an actual fungible asset. Unlike the in-house BARK tokens, 0DOG will be EVM-compatible. At even more advanced levels, dogs can take part in races and help players fetch rewards by winning.

Bitcoin Dogs is currently undertaking what seems to be the first-ever BRC-20 ICO on the Bitcoin blockchain. BRC-20 is a token standard created using ordinal inscriptions. This means Bitcoin Dogs players will be storing their NFTs on the Bitcoin blockchain, reaping its juicy security and reliability.

Following the footsteps of pet simulator games like Tamagotchi and OG NFT collections like CryptoPunks, even the Bitcoin Dogs universe is Retro 8-bit graphic themed.

There are around 900 million dogs in total on Earth, and this project has created one 0DOG token for each dog. 90% of the supply, i.e. 810 million tokens, have been minted during the pre-sale, while 10% has been reserved for developers, liquidity pools, and marketing. Going forward this year, the team is looking to launch a 10k NFT collection, with varying rarity levels that can be bred.

Via its pre-sale event, the project has already raised funds worth millions. The event started on 14 February and concluded on 15 March. Right after, the post-presale airdrop commenced and so did trading. Developers will continue working on the game behind the scenes. Additional P2E partnerships will be roped-in and the game will be publicly launched in the third quarter.

Our take on Bitcoin Dogs

Every time I type “Bitcoin Dogs”, I end up second-guessing my own decision to include this project in this report. But then I think about how meme projects have time and again helped revive the market. People inject liquidity into memecoins for fun, wait for them to rally to the sky, mint a metric truck-load of money, and then rotate their capital back into fundamental projects. So, bottom line: I had to give this project a chance. I honestly don’t know if it’s just another passing fad or would really end up delivering, but boy, it seems to be rolling up its sleeves.

An ICO on Bitcoin - Are you kidding me? This project is literally tryna prove that the world is your oyster if you want it to be. Bitcoin Dogs has also raised a handsome sum of money so far, pat on the back to the anon team. Don’t really know who’s behind the project and who’s backing it which is ummm... kinda sus, but the crypto space gives you the liberty to be pseudonymous and shield your true identity all you want. However, I haven’t been able to make peace with one fact - their official Twitter handle has close to 120k followers, but surprisingly, I have 0 mutuals following this page, which is weird.

Am I questioning its legitimacy? Maybe. Who’s been pouring funds into the project? Are they faking numbers? Are they here to rug pull and walk away hodling the bounty in their paws? Only time can tell.

MotoDEX

Without beating around the bush, let’s straight away jump into the nitty-gritty of how this hyper-casual game works:

  • NFT characters - They’re the ones that’ll play and compete against each other.
  • Track NFTs - Not a fan of riding and competitions? You can simply become a track owner. In this game, races are held in NFT locations.
  • Say I own a racing track, while you’re another user of the game with an NFT character. I’ll give you access to my track and the obstacles on it.
  • Once you make a bet and commence the game, you have to try to get ahead of everyone else.
  • MotoDEX pays track owners a land tax incentive + Owners also earn via the dividends received for active tracks.
  • Riders get coin rewards once they successfully complete their journey and navigate through the obstacles.
  • Also, if your player gets injured or dies, its life can be replenished with the help of capsules. There are a variety of them available and help give you 5/10/30/50 extra lives.

The game is based on the Skale network. What’s Skale? A modular chain. What does it do? It’s a storage and execution layer for Ethereum. How does it all work? There is no single Skale blockchain per se. It’s more like an AppChain network {that we spoke about in the trends section} that hosts other blockchains under its roof. Validators are paid to validate blocks and secure the network. This is where lies the twist in the tale - Skale enables dApps to pay validators directly - more like a chain subscription fee. That’s it. Nothing over and above. This mechanism, in turn, ends up eliminating the gas/transaction fee from the equation for users.

MotoDEX has been in the hot seat lately, and has time and again managed to creep up to the top of the rankings chart. Skale and its gasless architecture need to be given due credit for helping assemble a sticky crowd in such a fickle industry.

Our take on MotoDEX

MotoDEX gives Subway Surfer and Temple Run kinda vibes. It is accessible via phone and NGL, it is addictive. When it comes to racing games, the funkier the better.

Rules aren’t very complicated. You can buy and sell in-game NFTs {capsules, characters, tracks}. With every purchase, the value of these items increase and more often than not leads to profits when you sell. If you’re a track owner, you’ll simply earn every time someone plays on your track. If you own an NFT character, you’re also entitled to receive a chunk of income from the bets placed. There’s a smart contract in-place that registers bets and then reimburses rewards post every session. However, you will encounter some glitches here and there when you play, and that’s something the team will have to work on along with enhancing the touch sensitivity a bit.

Matr1x Fire

The developers of Matr1x Fire have stuck with the combination of three buzzwords: Web3 + AI + eSports and developed a shooting game. Straight-up competition to Valorant.

  • First and foremost, you’ll have to shell out your in-game resources to buy weapons to arm yourself up.
  • If you emerge victorious, you’ll earn more resources.
  • FIRE and USDC are the main tokens used within the game - They're used to open cases and acquire props, update avatars, breed them, manufacture weapons.
  • MAX is the governance token.

In the beginning, everyone gets free avatars to play. As and when you progress and buy/breed customized ones, you’ll be able to take part in prop-making. Credit scores will also be maintained. This means, you can’t cheat.

You hear that, Rahul? If caught cheating, credit scores will be slashed as a penalty, affecting your game earnings.

There’s another alternative spectator mode where you can watch the matches of tournaments where Esports clubs will have to stake MAX tokens to occupy seats. Gamble-Fi also comes into the picture - You can place relevant bets upon/against the team you support/debunk.

Now comes the climax: ve-MAX

  • MAX will be an ERC-20 token; It hasn’t launched yet. The team has been gearing up for the score event which will be followed by the airdrop
  • The allocation model doesn’t seem quite appealing - close to 1/3rd of the tokens are reserved for the team - There are several other games in the ecosystem that put the players first, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with Matr1x Fire.

Post the official launch, if you lock up your MAX (governance) tokens you’ll receive veMAX tokens, which allows you to take part in voting and other governance decisions. The number of locked MAX tokens and their lock duration (from 7 days to 3 years) will determine the number of ve-MAX tokens you’ll get.

FIRE (in-game currency) also has a capped supply of 1 billion tokens and is issued on the Polygon blockchain. This model seems to be better: The team gets 25 million tokens; 30 million tokens are set aside for the community; 120 million for the TGE liquidity, airdrops, NFT staking. The remaining tokens i.e. the largest chunk, can only be mined by playing the game and participating in other parallel events hosted

The MATR1X Fire team recently got its app green-flagged by the App Store and has been gearing up for the official iOS launch.

Who’s backing the project? In the A2 round in Q4 2023, Folius Ventures, SevenX,  ABCDE Capital, Jambo, Initiate Capital, and Find Satoshi Lab pitched in $10 million. Before that, in the Series A round that wrapped up in 2022, the project had raised another $10 million, thanks to Hashkey Capital, Hana Financial Investment, Amber Group, and SevenX.

Our take on Matr1x Fire

Matr1x Fire - The controls aren’t that difficult, you can easily pick them up. However, if you’re a novice shooter, it’ll take time to adapt to aiming and shooting. Come what may, don’t rely on the aim assistant, that messes things up even more. Even though this game is competitive, your ears won’t bleed every time you shoot or hear someone else shoot.

Also, matchmaking doesn’t take time, so you can squeeze in a quick game whenever you feel like. After a point in time, things might feel repetitive, but you can always swap to spectator mode and watch or take advantage of the Gamble-Fi crossover and bet. Staking to take part in governance decisions is a homespun path to follow and I’m not outrightly satisfied with its tokenomics.  

Pixels

Pixels is deemed to be a Free-to-Play “farming” game. No no, you don’t have to farm tokens or yields or volatility, instead, you’ll be farming crops, gathering resources {soil, wood, water, power, metal, stone}, harvesting pop berries, brewing drinks, acquiring recipes, cooking food, baking pies, and running other random errands. You’ll also get to explore farms created by other players. You’ll be doing all this in a retro-pixelated farmland, sharing the space with other NFT avatar characters who will be completing tasks and quests alongside you.

Pixels began its journey on Polygon. However, it switched boats to Ronin last year. Polygon is a great chain from several POVs, but Ronin is a chain that’s more inclined towards gaming. In fact, Ronin has been through a lot. In 2022, it suffered one of the biggest hacks in crypto’s history. Attackers targeted the Ronin Bridge and ended up siphoning more than $600 million worth of assets. The network and its devs have learnt things the hard way and are now in a much better state to tackle problems if anything goes haywire. Handling PTSD well was another factor that made Pixels gravitate towards Ronin.  

The game’s native token - PIXELS - made its debut in the second half of February, i.e. right before Bitcoin’s hyper-green streak kickstarted. On the heels of its launch, it managed to find a spot for itself in the top 10 traded coins by volume - a testament to people hoarding this coin. With the focus now back to Bitcoin and other memes, PIXELS has kinda stepped back but still continues to amass a daily volume >$1 million.

A major set of users - around 28k of ‘em - were flushed into the ecosystem owing to the ‘Play to Airdrop’ narrative. Some tasks in the game will help you occasionally earn PIXELS. You’ll need to have a wallet to connect to when you’re playing, but it is not mandatory for you to have PIXEL tokens or any native NFTs. You can simply sign up with your email and start farming.  

If you’re starting out on the free version, sharecropping is the only way in which you can play. You’ll be harvesting, planting, and selling on other’s land. The land will be leased to you and you’ll have to bear the leasing charges. As a sharecropper, you can also work in farming industries to upskill yourself.

BERRY is the native in-game currency and can be earned by playing the game. This currency will help you navigate through the early stages of the game. You can sell the resources you gathered and fetch BERRY tokens in return. Likewise, if you want to buy something, you’ll have to shell out BERRY. Even if you don’t own land, you’ll need to have BERRY in your pocket to maintain it.

BERRY’s supply is uncapped and all the tokens that you and others use to buy stuff will be burned. The team, however, can tamper around with the several factors that will bear an impact on the supply of BERRY - They can fluctuate the in-game store prices.

If they increase it, people will have to spend more to buy a particular item, and in retrospect, the burn rate would also end up increasing.

Likewise, if they slash prices, it could open the doors to gradual supply inflation. Similarly, the team can also play around with the resource replenishment time, the output of a resource, the energy required, etc. Going forward, if they want to completely stop the supply of BERRY also, they can do that. Typically, you’ll have to dance according to their whims and fancies. Not very cool.

PIXEL, on the other hand, is a currency linked to your social status. Your gaming status/progression will not necessarily be hindered if you don’t possess PIXEL. However, if you own these tokens, you can mint new land, purchase merch, and boost energy when you feel drained out. You’ll also be able to unlock new skins, player pets, etc.

Who’s backing the project? The team raised $4.8 million from Framework Venture Partners, Collab+Currency, Volt Capital, and Bloccre. Other angel investors included Sky Mavis {Axie Infinity’s creator}, Alex Svanenik, BreederDAO, Yield Guild Games, and Loopify, among others.

Our take on Pixels

For some reason, Pixel takes me back to my summer vacation period during my school days when I used to sit in front of the PC and play that Strawberry Shortcake game where you go around and collect berries. I hardly used to move, except for meal breaks. But somewhere down the line, I just lost interest altogether and that’s something I fear for Pixels too.

Nevertheless, signing up to play Pixels is not a herculean task, and that itself is one of its biggest pros. Even though the graphics are pixelated, it does not really strain your eyes even if you play for long. Sometimes, you’ll feel a bit lost and stranded in the middle not knowing what to do. A few missions are kinda daunting and take up a lot of time. Alongside, there are a lot of factors that the team has sole control of and that’s where I feel the whole decentralization aspect gets choked.

Other notable mentions  

GameSwift

There are several other projects that I’m keeping an eye out on. GameSwift, for instance, is a modular blockchain network on which other games can set up camp. Last month alone, the network managed to on-board 13 new gaming titles into its ecosystem.

To date, more than 100k users have already signed up. They’re served with variety within the cozy comfort of a singular ecosystem. This means no hassling between different chains and bridges. No need to install multiple extensions. And most importantly, no need to pay gas fees. The whole process is simplified, encouraging non-native crypto users to venture in alongside.

This project, in its truest essence, is an AI x Gaming x DePIN crossover. There are close to 2 billion gaming computers in aggregate all over the world. People don’t remain glued to the system 24/7*365. So whenever you’re not playing and your gaming system is lying idle, you can lend your GPU power to be used by others. GameSwift has developed the game launcher, but it’ll end up sharing 85% of the revenue with you. The remaining 15% will be distributed to people who stake their GSWIFT tokens.

So, gamers will have a two-in-one advantage: First, they can enjoy the gaming experience on GameSwift. Two, they can parallelly earn by lending their GPU power to facilitate AI operations. The in-house token of the GameSwift ecosystem was launched in H2 last year, and its performance on the macro frame has been nothing short of impressive.

Who’s backing the project? GameSwift’s partners and investors include Polygon, Casper Labs, Hashed, SVC, and OIG Capital, among others.

Spacebar

Spacebar is another interesting project that was recently revealed and launched. Within the first 24 hours, the project managed to welcome 3,500 unique users and amassed $2.5 million worth of staked Ether. Not all social gaming functionalities are out now, but the team has been working towards the second phase of its launch. Based on Blast, users can now perform basic functions like setting an NFT profile picture and staking ETH for yielding Blast yields and points.

The project is powered by ERC-6551 and that’s what stands out for me. Peeps often call this standard the “backpacker wallet.” This standard opens the doors to token-bound accounts. In ape-ology, they’re smart contracts that have their own address. These accounts are managed with a specific NFT. So, it’s more like a wallet that’s linked to the NFT, and the NFT can perform several functions like storing assets and interacting with dApps. These NFTs contain their own transaction history {not the same as the wallet history} and when the NFT ownership changes, the assets held by the NFT also change according to what the new owner possesses.  

Think of ERC-6551 as giving your ERC-721 token a backpack. With this backpack (smart contract), your ERC-721 token can carry not just its own belongings (functions and data), but also items from other token types like ERC-20, ERC-721, and ERC-1155. You, as the owner of the ERC-721 token, are the one carrying this backpack and have control over what goes in and out of it.

To get started in the Spacebar ecosystem, you’ll first have to pick an ERC-721 NFT for your identity, and then, your ultimate goal will be to accumulate Spacebar points. That will determine your fate during the airdrop of the ecosystem’s governance token - AIR. Bottomline: This is one of the first gaming projects that gives users full-fledged exposure to ERC-6551. So, we’ll have to see if it catches on or if it’s just another flash in the pan.

Who’s backing this project? The core contributors to this project have been associated with Binance Labs, Disney, Tencent, and Stanford University. They closed a $4.8 million seeding round in August 2022 and stalwarts like Balaji Srinivasan, Sandeep Nailwal of Polygon, Jihoz Zirlin of Axie Infinity, Gabby Dizon of Yield Guild Games, Zach Segal of Coinbase pitched-in.

ZeroSum

This is another project that you can take out your diary and make note of. Developed in conjunction with Entangle Labs, ZeroSum is all set to revolve around the Compete to Earn [C2E] model. Whether you're a speculator, gamer, gambler, or developer, the ZeroSum ecosystem has something to offer to everyone.  

Tournaments are the heart and soul of any major title. ZeroSum knows this and is giving everyone - from players to sponsors and everyone else in between - the right to create tournaments in any in-house ZS game. The rewards, size, etc. will vary, but a couple of things will remain constant - the competition and action.

Let’s swap gears. Are you that “I told youuuuuu this team will lose” kinda person who manages to hit the nail on the head almost every single time? Do you love live streaming matches and giving running commentary as and when things materialize your way? Are you into fantasy, dream-team, and betting markets? If your answer is yeah, then rejoice! ZS has something brewing. Under the Viewer Wagering umbrella, you - the spectator - will be rewarded for your pre-hand projections and forecasts. All you have to do is:

Choose a tournament of your choice → Pick a winner → Select the wager amount - $1, $2, $5 - else, key in your desired amount → Your estimated rewards will be displayed below your wager

If you’re new to the world of wagering, then make sure you enroll into popular tournaments and choose popular players from the participant list. Going with the herd ain’t a bad option in the beginning. As and when your feet find ground, you can sign yourself up for more conflicting and high-risk bets.

Currently, there are several tournaments scheduled for the coming days. It’d be interesting to see how things pan out once the ball starts rolling.

Beam

Beam is another very happening ecosystem. It is as vibrant as its logo. This crypto gaming portal/aggregator is built as a subnet on the Avalanche network. Being based on Avalanche comes with its own inherent advantages.

Instead of operating within a fixed perimeter, Beam intends to become an all-inclusive gaming universe. Beam’s ecosystem boasts of a native AMM Swaper, bridging and tracking platform, and an NFT marketplace. There are already about 200 games on Beam’s gaming hub, many of which you might have heard of like Raini: The Lord of Light {a fantasy card game}, Shrapnel {a shooting game} and Big Time {a space and time action role-playing game}.

The price of the indigenous crypto asset, BEAM, has also been making strides since rebranding from MC (Merit Circle). With a market cap of around $2 billion, this token’s price has been revolving around its ATH lately. In fact, at the time of writing, it was the second-largest gaming token, steering ahead of the likes of OGs like Decentraland, The Sandbox, Gala, Enjin, Ronin, etc.

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One small step taken by a project, one giant leap for the whole blockchain gaming economy

I don’t think any game is perfect. Despite the good and the bad, projects have been making advancements. For most games, you have nothing to lose to try ‘em out and see. In the process, if you end up minting a few bucks and refreshing yourself, then what’s the harm?

Attention is a scarce commodity. To grow as a game, creators have to buy users’ attention with token rewards. Games in the 1.0 era tried doing that and have been successful. However, players seem to be wanting more. Something different. Something lively. Something that incentivizes them to stick around. The 2.0 era is trying to do exactly that.

Where is the industry heading?

Almost all Game-Fi projects have been married to one core on-chain aspect or the other. Projects like Sweat Economy are completely blockchain-reliant and are working towards fundamentals like chain abstraction; GameSwift has been inclined towards DePIN; while other hard-core gaming projects like MotoDEX, Yuliverse, Pixels, Spacebar have been banking on NFTs. To top it all, almost every project has its own native token designed to serve in-game requirements.

In-game assets and collectibles, in the very least, are probably one vertical with staying power. But in more advanced ecosystems, you will be triggered to participate in the economy. Tokens and NFTs will continue to be used in full-fledged economies + will end up getting more intertwined with collateralization, staking, lending, leasing, and yielding.

On top of this, I expect to see gaming projects to:

  • become more interoperable & integrable with multiple networks
  • have more practical in-game economies
  • become more knit with DAOs, or rather come up with hybrid models like DAGOs {Decentralized Autonomous Game Organizations}
  • have well-pondered tokenomics backed with strong use-cases
  • possess more sophisticated mechanics  
  • fuel narrative shifts & incorporate dynamic standards

A few projects might be off to a great start, but it’s still dawn. There’s plenty of time for other new projects to sprout and capitalize on the organically growing demand for utility-centric games. The road ahead is long, we’re all gonna make it, but make sure to have fun along the way.

Btw Jack, if you’re reading this, get out of your comfort zone, step into the Game-Fi arena and try something new. Don’t remain the dull boy that you were once upon a time. You can do better.

Signing off - Until next time, happy gaming!

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