During the last couple of weeks, something curious happened in the world of gaming. There was a game on Steam that was removed by Valve for featuring NFTs (“Non-fungible Tokens”) and some days later, Epic Games released a statement saying they would accept NFT-games on their Epic Games Store. This has caused some companies to speak for or against NFTs during the past days.
Before we go any further, we have to see what NFTs are. From a YouTube channel called Whiteboard Crypto, NFTs are basically digital art pieces linked to a blockchain address (imagine the “blockchain address” to be some sort of bar-code). The art itself is not really important because the image can be copied (for example, say someone has this very nice poster of the latest Metroid game, but if you find the image online, you can print out your own copy of the poster), but the “ownership history” is what gives the NFT its value (“this image was owned by Michael Jackson’s daughter!”).
For example, in the image below you see you can purchase that casette NFT for 1000000 SOL (around 239M USD...). You're not purchasing the casette, but rather the image. Don't ask my why that image is so expensive, but it is.
This is somewhat similar to how you can buy a replica of Michael Jackson’s golden jacket, or buy the original golden jacket he wore during X concert, except this is fully digital.
So, how do NFT games work? I have been looking around, and I found a game called Axie Infinity, where you start playing by setting up your crypto wallet and purchasing 3 different characters (called Axies). Then, you can start earning rewards by completing different tasks and winning rounds. This doesn’t sound so different to Facebook games from a few years ago, where you earned “money” for completing tasks. However, the tokens you earn in Axie Infinity can be traded on some crypto exchanges, like Binance, for other crypto coins or for money (for example, if you take a look at CoinMarketCap, an AXS token is worth around $150 at the time I’m writing this).
However, not all NFT game tokens can be found there. There are other tokens that belong to other networks, and you can trade those tokens for crypto coins that belong to that specific network, and then trade those for real money.
Here’s the thing with NFT games, or crypto in general, you need to spend money to earn money, and it seems to me those games are only as good as how “tradeable” those tokens are. On the other hand, since NFT games require money input from gamers, no wonder some big greedy developers are already thinking about it (you know, the same developers that 2 years ago were all about loot-boxes).
The other thing I see is the ecosystem behind a game. If you see an NFT game, you have to wonder if the game has a network behind it, or if they are just trying to ride the crypto-bandwagon. For example, it is very common to see indies talking about how they want to make their own NFT game, and I can’t help to wonder if they are doing it because they “believe in crypto” or if they are doing it as a way to “get rich quick.” After all, literally anyone can make an NFT and sell it online.
I can’t really say how lucrative, for a gamer, NFT games can be. I know they could be lucrative for developers, so I’m sure some of the big publishers will get into this as a way to make more money to cover for the ever-inflating AAA-games budgets. On the other hand, surely some developers with no reputation to lose will try to take advantage of this and do some “rug-pulls” (when someone behind a crypto coin or token “runs away with the money” after a lot of people have put money in).
The only thing I can say is, whether you like or dislike the crypto world, crytpcurrency and NFTs don’t seem to be going anywhere. It is up to you to decide if you get into all this (not necessarily as a developer or artist, but as a consumer) or decide to opt out. All I can say is, if you do get into NFT games and you put some money in them, take a good look before you do it.
On the other hand, even if you are not into gaming, if you are on this website you’re definitely into art, traditional or digital. In that case, maybe selling NFTs could be a way for you to start making some extra money!