Top NFT Games in 2021

NFTs and NFT games are all the hype lately, with prices and number of users skyrocketing – what are some of the top NFT games, and what are the up-and-coming ones to look out for?

Ever since the introduction of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), they have shown time and again that they have the potential of changing the gaming world. The emergence of NFTs promises a new and exciting order where players take up even more critical roles in the gaming economy and receive befitting rewards in the process.Today, this gaming paradigm has begun to take shape as game developers are increasingly adopting blockchain technology to give their games an even more immersive experience. In this guide, we will give you a rundown of some of the top NFT games available today. However, before diving into our list of the best NFT games, let first discuss the rudimentary of an NFT-based game.

NFT Games

What Are Play-to-Earn Games?

An NFT game combines conventional gaming designs with unconventional game mechanisms to let users have more control over in-game assets like skins, characters, weapons, virtual lands and much more. This is made possible by launching games on blockchains and anchoring them with digital asset-powered economies. These digital assets are often NFTs so that they are distinguishable and tamper-proof. The adoption of NFT token standards also allows developers to preserve the rarity and uniqueness of some of these in-game items. This is why some blockchain game assets are considered more expensive than others.

 

With this system in place, the players can claim ownership of game assets through 3 main strategies. They could create or breed new characters, purchase digital items on native or third-party marketplaces, or unlock and earn new items. Whichever way you choose to access these game assets, you have exclusive ownership rights over them. In essence, you can distribute or sell them and pocket all the money made from such trades. This is why this gaming model is called play-to-earn.

 

How Does the Play-to-Earn Model Benefit Gamers?

Virtual economies existing in gaming universes are not unheard of — popular massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG) like RuneScape and World of Warcraft have players in the millions. Furthermore, many games claiming to be free-to-play are running on a 'freemium' model; gamers have to splash certain amount of money, on top of time and effort, to accelerate their rise through the ranks or obtain rare in-game items. While these in-game items may be worth a tidy sum, the true ownership does not lie with the gamer, but with the game developers.

 

While gaming companies should be rightly compensated for developing entertaining titles, gamers also bring value by spending time and actively participating in the in-game economy. The play-to-earn model could be seen as a way to synergize both parties so that all are rewarded for the value they bring. On one hand, gaming companies can develop a more vibrant in-game economy. On the other hand, gamers get to own their in-game assets and be rewarded for their time spent.

 

Can You Make Money Playing NFT Games?

Yes — while you've probably heard of the news of people in Philippines earning a reasonable wage playing Axie Infinity, the cost to start playing the most popular play-to-earn game — Axie Infinity — has reached at least a few hundreds dollars. As of Oct. 27, 2021, the cost of the cheapest Axie you can find on the marketplace is $93; users need three Axies to start playing. To start earning, you would have to recover your upfront cost, which could take anywhere from 50 to 80 days, before earning between $8 to $40 depending on their Axies.

 

Are There Free NFT Games?

While some of the games mentioned below — such as Gods Unchained and Splinterlands — are free-to-play, most require you to spend a certain amount to purchase a starter pack or progress further. Those not willing to fork out the upfront capital will be glad to know that there are initiatives such as Axie scholarships: sponsors loan three Axies to "scholars" and engage in a profit sharing scheme, which could see players earning around 50%-70% of the total profits.

 

What Are the Top NFT Games?

Like all emerging and established sectors, certain platforms have positioned themselves as the main highlight of the NFT gaming world. These games are at the forefront of the current NFT craze because they have successfully integrated NFTs with popular game themes. As such, players get to play some of their favorite game genres and at the same time engage with a profitable NFT market. Without further ado, here are some of the games that fall within this category.

 

Axie Infinity

Axie Infinity

Axie Infinity borrows heavily from the Pokemon game series and adds its own blockchain twist to give the finished product an even more exciting feel. In this Ethereum-based game, players breed and collect NFT-based digital pets called Axies for the core purpose of battling other players. Each individual Axies has its own genetic imprint. Therefore, the weaknesses and strengths of Axies are passed down to their offspring.As expected, these digital pets are tradeable on Ethereum NFT marketplaces, and the price of each depends on their rareness and unique traits. To start playing the game, you have to purchase 3 Axies. For each quest, player-versus-player (PVP) battle, and adventure mode you scale, you receive Smooth Love Potion (SLP) – the platform’s native ERC-20 utility token – as a reward.For every attempt to breed a new Axie, you must pay a specific amount of SLPs, which you can also purchase at exchanges. Another ERC20 token native to Axie Infinity is Axis Infinity Shard (AXS), which functions as the platform’s governance token. It will also anchor the game’s staking service scheduled to go live at some point in 2021.Learn more in our deep dive on Axie Infinity.

 

Gods Unchained 

Gods Unchained is a free-to-play game designed to infuse elements of NFT into a familiar card trading gaming genre. Players accumulate cards by purchasing them from other players or winning PVP matchups where the quality of cards and the gaming skill of players often determine the winner. Notably, more emphasis is being placed on skills and strategy. This is because the game utilizes a ranked game mode where players with the same ratings are matched.

You win matches when your gameplay causes your opponent’s life to drop to zero before yours. For every win, you receive experience points. As soon as the experience bar is filled up, you will move to the next rating or level and receive a new pack of cards to add to your collection.

Note that each card is backed by an ERC-721 token. Therefore, you can trade them on the platform’s native marketplace or the open market. Those opting to sell cards within the game ecosystem will receive the platform’s native token, GODS, as payment. It is worth noting that the GODS token has not been officially launched at the time of writing this guide. Be sure to confirm that the development team has released GODS tokens to the crypto market before proceeding to purchase or receive any token marketed as GODS tokens.Learn more in our deep dive on Gods Unchained.

 

Splinterlands

Splinterlands is a free-to-play tradable card game that lets users earn as they play, similar to Gods Unchained. You earn rewards when you win card matchups. To start playing Splinterlands, you first have to buy a starter pack of cards, register a Steem account and unveil the purchased cards on Splinterlands. In some cases, you may be lucky enough to find rare cards among your first set of purchased cards. Also, you could find multiples of the same type of card. If this is the case, you can combine identical cards to boost their power or sell one of them in return for cryptocurrencies.

Once you familiarize yourself with the cards, you can proceed to battle other players or participate in quests. The outcome of these activities would determine if you will earn more cards or not.

 

The Sandbox 3D

The Sandbox is a voxel-based gaming metaverse and one of the most active NFT gaming platforms where players can build and trade virtual assets. In this game, players can manipulate and monetize voxel assets. Think of it as the blockchain iteration of popular gaming titles like Minecraft and Roblox. The platforms offer the tools to create and animate objects and subsequently sell them on marketplaces. Additionally, users can create and play custom games on the platform.Sandbox 3D has introduced SAND, an ERC-20 token, as the native token of the metaverse. With this, players can purchase in-game items on the platform’s marketplace. There is also LAND, which are NFT tokens and by far some of the most valuable and sought after assets in the Sandbox game. A record of $8.5 million in LAND sales was concluded in April alone.

 

Alien Worlds

Alien Worlds is an NFT Defi metaverse that simulates economic competition and collaboration between players in a bid to explore other planets. This is achieved by incentivizing players to compete for Trilium (TLM), which is required to control competing decentralised autonomous organisations (Planet DAOs) and to gain access to additional gameplay.

In the Alien Worlds metaverse, players can acquire NFTs to mine TLM, engage in battles and complete in-game quests. Depending on their strategy, players may purchase and assemble NFTs that best suit their gameplay. Additionally, players may engage in governance by electing the Councillors of six Planet DAOs, and thereby influence the direction of the game.

 

Battle Racers

As its name implies, Battle Racers is inspired by popular titles like Super Mario Kart and F-Zero. The whole idea is to combine different weapons and parts in order to create the most powerful cars. Players get to mix different parts and weapons that will give them some sort of advantage on the arcade-sized tracks. You can register your winning or prized cars on the blockchain as NFTs and subsequently sell them for crypto on OpenSea.

Each player looks to create the ultimate car by favoring different skills and stats. You could choose handling over speed or defense over firepower, all in the hopes of emerging victorious in tournaments. This game is currently playable on Decentraland, which in itself is a blockchain-based virtual world. More information about the game can be found here.

 

Sorare — Fantasy Football

Sorare is a fantasy football trading card game on the Ethereum blockchain. Players collect or buy trading cards to compete in weekly competitions, and stand a chance to unlock rare cards or win Eth. As of end-October 2021, Sorare has over 200 clubs officially licensed on their platform — including renowned names like Real Madrid, Liverpool, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich — with more added each week.

Cards are of four categories: commons, rare, super-rare and unique. The game is free-to-play and players are given a deck of random common cards when they complete certain onboarding tasks. However, to progress up the division leagues and win prizes, players will have to buy rare cards on the marketplace in Ether, at the very least.

From their deck of cards, players assemble a five-player team, select your captain and enter their team into weekly competitions. Based on the performances of the players in real life football matches, it will determine the number of points the team gets. Players own the NFT cards they have collected and can sell them to other players on NFT marketplaces.

 

Three Up-and-Coming NFT Games to Watch

 

Guild of Guardians

Guild of Guardians

Guild of Guardians is a fantasy-themed role-playing game where the familiar model of building a team of heroes, completing quests in dungeons and earning resources is played out. As with other games, collecting resources allows in-game items to be crafted, which could be turned for a profit. However, Guild of Guardians, as the name suggests, focuses heavily on building communities – or guilds in this case. Guardians team up to compete against in-game challenges, and in return they get to earn Gem – the native currency of the game.

Furthermore, the game developers want the game to be play-to-earn – but not at the expense of other players. There is no PVP gameplay in Guild of Guardians; players compete against monsters in dungeons, hence users do not need to spend money to beat other players.

The game is currently in development. The founder NFTs are currently on sale and a soft launch is scheduled for Q2 2022. With many large backers behind them, it would be an interesting one to watch. Learn more in our deep dive on Guild of Guardians.

 

Gold Fever 

Gold Fever is a jungle-themed role-playing game where players choose a character and try to outplay other players for a chance of mining gold in the form of the game’s native token, NGL. Players also go about collecting limited NFT-based items like clothes, weapons and other supplies. Similar to the workings of most NFT games, Gold Fever tries to enable blockchain-initiated scarcity for its in-game assets. You can pick any of the main characters of the game and play your part in the formation of a fiercely contested gold economy. 

Note that the in-app game items are tradable on marketplaces. Therefore, you can earn by earning NGL and exchanging it for fiat or cryptocurrencies on exchanges or trading collectibles on NFT marketplaces.

 

Neon District

Neon District is a role-playing game (RPG) that allows users to collect characters, gears and crafts. Like all the games highlighted in this guide, the in-game items and characters featured on Neon District are NFTs. As such, the in-game items found on Neon District are essentially digital collectibles backed on the blockchain. You have the right to monetize your participation by selling earned or purchased in-game assets to other players.

The goal is to build a team and compete against other players in missions or real-time combats. One multiplayer competitive game mode, called Neon Pizza, in particular, pitches players against each other for the chance of earning the platform’s native token – Neon, gears, parts and so on. All you need to do is send your characters on pizza delivery runs to feed hungry citizens. You can also take up a more villainous strategy by ambushing the pizza delivery team of other players and stealing their earnings. 

The earnings, which are denominated in Neon, can be used to purchase characters, weapons, parts, armors, juice and other in-game items required to upgrade characters. 

NFT Games

Other Popular NFT Games

From our list, you will notice that NFT crypto games adopt popular gaming genres, albeit in combination with blockchain elements, particularly ideal for establishing rarity and uniqueness. As such, NFT games are not all that difficult to play. They are also enjoyable and highly rewarding, as in the case of Axie Infinity, where some players are able to earn a decent income.

Another popular implementation of NFTs is in sports. NFTs go beyond sports memorabilia to engage with millions of fans worldwide, giving them a say in their favorite sports teams. Read more about in our ultimate guide to NFT sports platforms.

 

Play-to-earn Games on Android and iOS

With global smartphone penetration rate estimated to be around 78% in 2020, many free-to-play games have found great success reaching users on their mobile devices. It comes as no surprise that 43% of all smartphone usage are related to gaming. This trend is even more prevalent in developing countries like the Philippines, where many Axie Infinity players are able to play on their Android phones or tablets. Play-to-earn games developers in the GameFi industry are aware, and have made games interoperable on multiple devices. Check out our guide of the top crypto games on Android and iOS devices.

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