There is a lot of crossover between the cryptocurrency community and the online gaming community. In fact, according to a study by WAX, 55 percent of millennial online gamers also hold cryptocurrencies. It should, therefore, not come as a surprise that there are several popular blockchain projects that focus on online gaming.
Virtual cats are all the rage
Arguably the most popular online game currently operating on the blockchain is the virtual cat collectible game CryptoKitties. CryptoKitties enables gamers to buy, breed, and sell virtual kittens that each have unique characteristics that determine their values. The digital kittens can be bought and sold for ether (ETH) as this game was built on top of the Ethereum blockchain.
Due to the largely decentralized nature of the CryptoKitties application, it is de facto impossible to change ownership or produce “fake” kittens, which means each virtual kitten possesses digital scarcity. That is the reason why these collectibles virtual cats are considered to be valuable. Some are even considered so valuable that they have been sold for tens of thousands of dollars.
Interestingly, shortly after its launch, the CryptoKitties DApp became the third most active smart contract on the Ethereum network, making up over 20 percent of all transactions on the Ethereum network. This is a clear testament to the popularity of online gaming and the potential of blockchain-based games when done right.
After its success as a web-based game, CryptoKitties is now also launching on mobile targeting the Asian market first.
There’s more to blockchain gaming than just kittens
CryptoKitties, however, was not the first blockchain-based game. Prior to the launch of the virtual cat collecting game in November, several other online games have ventured their way onto the blockchain.
The first notable blockchain-powered online gaming ventures were chance-based games such as EtherRoll and Edgeless, which offer fair smart contract-based online gambling for Ethereum users. Like in CryptoKitties, ether (ETH) is the currency in these games and gamers are incentivized to play by the potential to earn high financial rewards.
Another Ethereum-based game that managed to gain gamers’ attention in 2017 was EtherPlay. EtherPlay is an Ethereum-based online arcade game that originally offered two games that charged players a small amount of ether (ETH) per play and then rewarded gamers with ether (ETH) when they won. According to its website, the gaming project is currently upgrading its platform and intends to bring more games to market this year. In the past year, EtherPlay held 70 competitions and paid out 70 ether (ETH) to the most successful players.
Since the launch of CryptoKitties, decentralized blockchain games suddenly started to spring out of the earth like mushrooms. Not only did the instant success of CryptoKitties bring on a substantial amount of clones, such as TronDogs, CryptoFighters, or CryptoCities, but it also led to a new wave of decentralized online games being developed.
A notable Ethereum-based game that has recently even surpassed the transaction volumes of CryptoKitties is the collectible strategy battle game Etherbots. Etherbots is a new decentralized digital robot wars game that allows players to collect and forge robot parts and weapons to build their robots, which they can then send to battle against the digital robots of other players. The CryptoKitties-inspired game enables players to create over two million possible robots whose scarcity is guaranteed by the applications smart contract.
Ethercraft is another popular Ethereum-based online game. However, unlike CryptoKitties and Etherbots, it is not focused on collective digital items. Instead, Ethercraft is a decentralized 2D role-playing game that enables gamers to equip their characters with new items, which can be bought, sold, traded, looted or crafted by combining different items, to then plunder dungeons and slay enemies.
Interestingly, the majority of the top 100 decentralized apps currently available on the Ethereum network are online games, according to DAppRader. Currently, the largest decentralized gaming applications — ranked by DApp Rader — are CryptoKitties, EtherCraft, Etherbots, Etheremon, CryptoCities, and CryptoBots. All of which are in the ten five largest DApps on Ethereum, which highlights the popularity of these applications.
Decentralized gaming is on the rise
One of the main reasons why the likes of CryptoKitties managed to become so successful in such a short period of time is due to the fact that it is a largely decentralized application, which means once it has been coded into existence, its founders cannot make changes to the in-game content or functionalities. This is highly appealing to gamers who do not want game producers to make in-game changes that could affect them negatively.
The need for decentralization in gaming has famously been pointed out by Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin on his About Me page: “I happily played World of Warcraft during 2007–2010, but one day Blizzard removed the damage component from my beloved warlock’s Siphon Life spell. I cried myself to sleep, and on that day I realized what horrors centralized services can bring.”
CryptoKitties could, therefore, have been the spark that lit the fire that the blockchain gaming sector needed to explode onto the scene. There is also already a strong overlap between the cryptocurrency community and the online gaming community, so interesting and fun new games launched on the blockchain are almost guaranteed to be greeted with players willing to play the game upon launch.
Whether 2018 becomes the year of decentralized gaming on the blockchain or not remains to be seen but thanks to virtual kittens, chances are that online gaming will become an integral part of the blockchain ecosystem going forward.