NFT gaming is changing: Web2 studios and game engines are getting into the business; more and more games are run by DAOs; and projects are moving to faster, newer chains. Aptos could soon become one of the leaders, thanks to its fast finality and extremely low fees. We’ll tell you all about the Web3 games being built on Aptos and how they can reshape the industry.
- NFT Ownership
Web2 gamers are accustomed to spending real money for various in-game products: characters, weapons, in-game currency, etc. These purchases go to the game developer, a centralized entity, and do not actually confer any actual ownership over these in-game items to the player.
In Web3 games, characters or avatars are rendered as NFTs and can be bought, sold, and traded like any other non-fungible token. This gives players true ownership over their assets. Also, new games can be built around existing NFTs — for example, in Aptos Arena, Pontem Space Pirates are used as characters.
- Rewards and Play2Own
Many Web2 games have in-game rewards, but in Web3 games players receive usable cryptocurrency that can translate to actual value, granting a tangible incentive for passionate players.
Recently, play-to-own (P2O) games have grown in popularity. These games reward players with ownership of the game itself through mechanisms like NFTs, governance tokens, or reward schedules. These are often said to be fairer than P2E games, which can require an expensive upfront purchase to get started, and rely solely on external markets to give monetary value to in-game rewards. Since users have incentive to not sell their tokens, P2O games point to a future of sustainable growth.
- Community leadership
More and more games have the intention to be controlled by DAOs in the future. This means that instead of developers unilaterally issuing updates, altering gameplay, or changing the game in other ways, the community has a say. This would truly be a revolution in gaming, inverting the balance of power in favor of the player.
An interesting use case of DAOs in NFT gaming are gaming guilds like Yield Guild Games and Merit Circle. They combine DeFi and gaming by investing in NFTs, issuing their own tokens, and being managed collaboratively through a DAO.
Examples of Merit Circle’s recent governance proposals
(On a similar note, Pontem recently launched governance DAOs for two of our NFT collections, Space Pirates and Dark Ages. If you have a Pontem NFT, you can vote for various proposals — and even submit your own — on our OrderDAO page.)
The NFT gaming market has changed dramatically since the 2021 bull run. Gaming token prices are down dramatically, and previous leaders — such as Axie Infinity and Gods Unchained — have been replaced by Iskra, Alien Worlds, Pixels, and Benji Bananas.
Apart from a very different top 10, there are other interesting GameFi trends unfolding in Web3 gaming.
According to the latest DappRadar report, games still account for 45% of all dApp activity on all chains — twice more than DeFi.
We’ve already mentioned community leadership as one of the advantages of Web3 games. You may be surprised to learn that several of the largest NFT games are either run by DAOs already, or plan to transfer governance to a DAO in the near future: Iskra, Alien Worlds, Splinterlands, Axie Infinity (which is still part of the top 10, though at no. 8 by user numbers), as well as others.
In March, Unity — one of the world’s biggest game development platforms — unveiled a Software Development Kit (SDK) for blockchain games. It’s available for 13 platforms including Aptos, Solana, Flow, and Immutable X, as well as MetaMask. On Aptos, there is already at least one game built with Unity: Aptos Arena. We’ll cover it in detail in the section about gaming on Aptos.
Meanwhile, several leading Web2 studios are also exploring Web3 gaming. They include:
- South Korean NPixel, which launched METAPIXEL together with Aptos Labs;
- Another Korean studio, 4:33 Creative Lab, whose Delabs project will develop games on Polygon;
- Mineloader (Last of Us), which is working with Immutable Games on a Web3 adaptation of Guild of Guardians.
Screenshot from Gran Saga: Unlimited, being developed for Aptos
Out of the top 20 Web3 games by unique active wallets on DappRadar, 11 support more than one blockchain. Among the most popular chains are WAX, Hive, Polygon, and Klaytn — all very cheap and fast chains. Clearly, Web3 game developers are looking for the cheapest and most efficient solutions — and not just for chains with the most users and a high TVL.
This opens up impressive opportunities for a new generation of L1 chains, especially Aptos. Not only is it faster than Polygon, but it also offers serious technological advantages: let’s examine them next.
The Aptos blockchain has everything it takes to become a leader in the web3 gaming revolution. It provides fast processing, low latency, and high throughput: exactly what you need to power high-performance games.
Mo Shaikh, Co-Founder & CEO of Aptos Labs, wrote that web3 gaming offers “decentralized game-making for developers and companies, as well as both social and economic value for gamers looking to compete and connect with people around the world.” Shaikh notes player ownership, community input through DAOs, and blockchain-enabled security as major advantages for web3 games.
Aptos boasts eight major factors that make it ideal for game developers:
- Near-instant finality
Finality time is the time needed to fully confirm a transaction on a blockchain. On Aptos, it’s less than 1 second, so players will have access to whatever funds or NFTs they transfer or stake in a game immediately.
Sub-second finality is possible thanks to Aptos’s parallel execution engine (Block-STM) and consensus mechanism (BFTv4).
- Up to 100,000 TPS with the Aptos BFT consensus
Even the most popular Play2Earn game or NFT mint can’t overload the Aptos network. Many games with thousands of transactions can run parallel to each other without causing bottlenecks and lags. Read our detailed article on Aptos’ BFT consensus engine.
- Unity SDK support
Unity is one of the most popular game development platforms, and Aptos is one of just 13 decentralization solutions to be verified with Unity itself. Aptos’s Unity SDK (Software Development Kit) lets developers focus more on game design, and less on wrangling the blockchain itself.
Unity is used in many Web2 games, such as Marvel Snap and Hearthstone. Credit: Forbes
- Low fees
Every transaction on Aptos costs no more than a few cents, even minting an NFT. This is crucial for P2E games, because they have to make sure that the players’ rewards always cover the fees, even when one makes many in-game transactions every day.
Unlike other blockchains that are notoriously complex to upgrade (read our article on Ethereum’s Merge for a deeper understanding), Aptos is built to be improved. Aptos can be upgraded endlessly without downtime, allowing the ecosystem to evolve as technology improves, enabling more complex and sophisticated games.
We’ve written a lot about the Move programming language (check out our deep dive here) and its numerous benefits, all of which apply equally to the gaming space. Particularly important is Move’s use of resource types, which allow for extra secure asset management. This is crucial for video games — can you imagine losing a character you’ve been leveling up for months because of a code issue?
- Great infrastructure and tooling
Thanks to infrastructural projects like Pontem Network and LayerZero, Aptos has a great set of wallets — like Pontem Wallet, DEXs (Liquidswap), bridges, as well as tools for devs. For example, with our Move Playground code editor, developers can write and correct in Move right in the browser.
- Booming NFT market
Aptos already has several large marketplaces (e.g. Topaz) and hundreds of NFT collections, such as Pontem Space Pirates, Aptos Monkeys, and Aptomingos.
Let’s take a look at some of the most exciting games on Aptos.
At Pontem, we support new projects creating incredible gaming experiences on Aptos. At Ferum’s 2023 Furnace DeFi Hackathon, we sponsored a prize for the best gaming project that could creatively integrate one of our products. The $5,000 Pontem Prize went to Aptos Arena, an awesome fighter game built on the Aptos Unity SDK.
Aptos Arena can also be played in casual mode (without an NFT)
Aptos Arena is an arcade-style fighting game that utilizes Aptos NFT collections as playable characters. We were delighted to see Aptos Arena using our Pontem Pirates NFTs for its first characters. Each NFT character has unique properties, such as speed, strength, and defense.
Aptos Arena consists of two modes: Ranked, which is only for Aptos NFT holders and includes on-chain scorekeeping; leaderboards; and rewards, and Casual, which does not require a wallet. There is even a Solo Training mode, so that you can try the Arena without waiting for someone else to join.
To cement its commitment to web3 gaming, Aptos has partnered with NPixel, a South Korean game development studio known for Gran Saga, a popular anime-style MMORPG for mobile that earned a record $100 million within three weeks of release.
METAPIXEL currently has three projects in production — Gran Saga: Unlimited, Pixelcraft, and Catcha.
Scheduled to launch in 2023, this PC game is a Web3 adaptation of Gran Saga for PC. Unlike the original, which had a fixed storyline, players in Gran Saga: Unlimited will be able to create their own stories as they collaborate or compete with others.
Users can customize their avatars, form teams, and fight monsters. The ultimate goal is to level up sufficiently enough to become System Agents — characters with the power to impact the game narrative and economy.
In March, the project held the first Community Test round for the game. In July 2023, METAPIXEL will start the second Community Test round, which will run for two weeks and gather up to 8000 testers. They will be able to form clans, fight, and explore the game world.
All beta testers will receive a memorable Mount (that is, a horse) NFT, which can be used in the game. Plus, some will win a WL spot in a Catcha NFT raffle. Applications are open on the official website until June 15.
This is an immersive NFT game for both mobile and PC, coming in 2023. According to Metapixel, Pixelcraft will allow users to collect, socialize, and play while at the same time connecting creators and communities from across the Aptos ecosystem. The trailer revealed slightly pixelated characters that jump over obstacles, fight monsters, and gather points — all in a pleasant retro RPG style.
Catcha is a collection of 10,000 NFT cats that arrived from an alien planet to conquer Earth, Catcha being the name of their space empire. Catcha owners will get premium access to other Metapixel products. The mint date hasn’t been announced yet.
DataBlaze is a dystopian cyberpunk RPG. Players can explore a large Cyber City, go on missions to earn $DTB tokens, and upgrade their kit. For now, you can mint a Starter Pack that includes a character, beta access to the game, and some DTB. As of May 2023, around 80% of Starter Packs have been minted out, and the price is 1.5 APT on BlueMove.
The game itself, together with a multichain marketplace, should be released in the second half of 2023. League of Shoguns will have two tokens: $SHOG for rewards and $HANEI as the utility and governance token.
By the way, League of Shoguns artist @kom_wil was named among the best Aptos digital artists, alongside Pontem’s own @agafondombrow (Pontem Space Pirates) and @ilya_stallone (Dark Ages).
Werewolf and Witch is an NFT fighting game on Aptos where Witch and Werewof NFTs fight each other. A user can list their NFT in the Battle Arena or challenge others to a fight. As the result of a battle, the player can win the opponent’s NFT or lose their own. The opponent’s NFT can be “consumed” to gain more strength.
Minting an NFT costs 0.1 APT, and your character will have random strength (from 1 to 5) that will affect their success in battle. All minting fees go to a special prize vault. At the end of each battle season, the winning faction can claim the APT prize by burning their NFTs. Users also get $WAR tokens, and the players with the highest strength rating and those who killed the most enemies receive additional WAR prizes.
So far there have been three seasons of Werewolf and Witch. In Season 3, Werewolves won, with an average claimable prize of 0.224 APT per NFT — over 100% of the original minting cost.
The next stage is a multiplayer battle arena (coming in 2023), followed by a full-scale MMORPG built with Unreal Engine.
Ryoshi Tales belongs to the resource management game genre. You build a village, trade, buy more land, level up structures, and accumulate resources. You also battle others in Combat mode. Players will be able to hire units with different skills and equipment, trade weapon skins and other artifacts in the NFT marketplace.
The game will have both single player and multiplayer modes. The visual style is the so-called chibi, popular in Japanese manga: small and chubby characters with oversized heads. Ryoshi Tales is part of a larger Web3 gaming ecosystem called LotusGalaxy, which provides tooling for game builders.
DogLaikaCoinm ($DLC) is a leading memecoin on Aptos. The project also has an NFT collection of pixelated Laikas, traded on BlueMove.