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The silver standard of the crypto community, Ethereum is a layer 1 blockchain that’s high in popularity and high in fees. Ethereum follows close behind Bitcoin in every kind of analytics and was created to simplify and speed up the movement of wealth in the traditional financial market. Today, Ethereum hosts multiple other layers off its main chain, a single Ethereum token is worth over $1,600, and the chain is used for a wide variety of activities, from DAOs and DEXs to some of the most lucrative play-to-earn blockchain video games.
The video games featured on the Ethereum blockchain all gain an innate boost to their user base just by existing on the second most popular blockchain ever. Plenty of people already hodl Ethereum in their crypto portfolio, which makes starting an Ethereum-based game all the easier. There’s no need to sign up with an exchange, verify three forms of government ID, and convert your currency to get started.
Unfortunately, there is a caveat that comes with being on the second most popular blockchain: fees. Ethereum has the highest fees of any blockchain. It’s not even a competition. Many times the gas fees to execute an action on the Ethereum blockchain cost more than the action itself. I.e., the fees to purchase your first team of axis warriors may be higher than the price of your warriors.
That said, Ethereum still hosts some of the most popular and promising gaming/metaverse projects in web3. Here are just a few.
In A Nutshell
Don’t feel like reading through the entire piece? I don’t blame you. To sum it up succinctly: The Sandbox and Spider Tanks are the best Ethereum-based games out there, in my opinion, and they will be for the foreseeable future. Axie Infinity will always be a heavyweight in the space, but it seems to be in a perpetual freefall and who knows when its dev team will find a parachute.
The Sandbox and Spider Tanks. You’re welcome.
Why I Chose These Games
There are a lot of games in the crypto space. Over 1,300 by some estimates, and the number is only growing. How does one whittle down the group to find the best contenders?
When I compiled this list, I looked at a game’s token price, the market cap for the entire project, its supporters and financial backers, and their community engagement. I also factored in if the game is fun to play, not just a good investment. Is there lore and worldbuilding? Are there unique gameplay mechanics? Do players consistently come back to play despite rewards?
Some of the games on this list aren’t fully released yet. Many of them, including Axie Infinity, are still in some form of alpha or beta testing. However, even games that aren’t complete have clever ways of engaging potential players, showcasing their rich environments, or offering airdrops for token hodlers. The ones that are still in development but haven’t found ways to interact with their players aside from offering purchase opportunities are excluded from this list.
Here are the best games on the Ethereum blockchain.
6) The Red Village
The Red Village is on this list for one reason, it’s marketed as “Runescape for the blockchain.” And if that doesn’t grab most gamers’ attention, I’m not sure what will. While those are some wildly large shoes for The Red Village to fill, it is trying its absolute hardest.
Produced by Animoca Brands, one of the biggest web3 gaming studios in existence, The Red Village has some impressive backers in the crypto community. Metakey, The Sandbox, and Phantom Galaxies are all intertwined with the project in some way.
There is no native or governance token for The Red Village. They simply rely on Ethereum for everything. Which is both good and bad. It means the development team can be smaller than the average size because they don’t need economists or financial analysts to manage the inflation or burn rate of their token. But it also means I can’t accurately verify how much The Red Village is worth. Since all their transactions are lumped into the Ethereum blockchain at large, getting a precise idea of its market cap and the daily volume is impossible. Unless the team at The Red Village feels like sharing that info, and I don’t see them doing that.
The Red Village has plans for a large, MMO world for players to roam, the Runescape part I mentioned earlier, but there are two other game modes for players to explore. Currently, only the tournament mode is out for the public. It requires players to purchase an NFT hero. Once purchased, players can send their heroes to the arena and battle other players in bloody PvP fights. The Red Village believes in complete interoperability, meaning their Darklands expansion plans to integrate with other metaverses, like the previously mentioned Sandbox and Phantom Galaxies. If they pull off those plans, The Red Village will be Runescape for the blockchain on steroids.
The Red Village has an epic game trailer, which is already more than many web3 games can boast, and its gameplay is smoother and more modern than the best games of other blockchains. However, it’s an expensive game to get into–a single hero can set you back over $1,000–and the current gameplay is little more than gambling.
Take your hero over to the tournament arena and peruse potential battles. Each battle costs an entry fee, of $3-$5. If you win, you take home the pot, anywhere from $20-$50. If you lose, you lose.
I’m hoping The Red Village continues its development on track, which would make it look much more reliable in my eyes. If their heroes were more affordable, that would be helpful too. Till then, they remain a very active, popular, and lucrative community. When their open-world drops, I can only assume that will increase.
The jist of Decentraland is in the name. It’s a decentralized game that revolves around the purchase, ownership, and customization of land. Decentraland is more of a metaverse with a bunch of games inside it. Think of a mature Roblox that’s bigger, has more users, and allows earning crypto all the time.
Decentraland runs on its currency, MANA, which, at one point, was worth over $5. Today it’s worth $0.89. The project still manages massive amounts of money. Its market cap is over $1.3 billion and its daily volume is over $160 million.
Decentraland, while full of games, is geared towards virtual hangouts, like a true metaverse. Create your avatar, enter the world, and interact with thousands of others exploring the metaverse just like you. You can play games together, visit digital museums with friends, and enjoy a movie at a public gathering. There are constantly events happening in Decentraland. DJ mix parties, trivia and movie nights, investment discussions, etc. There is a helpful tab on Decentraland’s website that allows you to sift through their calendar and see everything offered.
I found myself enjoying my experience in Decentraland, unlike The Sandbox. Not sure why. Possibly because the characters don’t look so rudimentary. Possibly because it seemed brighter, happier, and more positive. Possibly because it’s a true DAO (decentralized autonomous organization) and not run by a money-hungry board of investors.
Whatever it was that made Decentraland resonate with me, I don’t resist it. The games inside are fun and cover every sort of topic imaginable. Being able to explore the metaverse one minute and then jump into a train heist game the next was more than a little entertaining. I see Decentraland only becoming more popular and lucrative in time.
4) Spider Tanks
Spider Tanks is an objectively good game. Remove the pay-to-play aspect, remove the web3 aspect, and you’re still left with a great game. It’s a game that’s simple in its presentation yet complex in its mechanics. It’s much harder to win than you might think, watching those little mechanized tanks crawl around and shoot at each other.
A chaotic, top-down, MOBA-style game, Spider Tanks has great graphics, hours of customization to delve into, and a booming community of loyal players. Unfortunately, it’s another expensive game to jump into, with some NFT body parts for tanks costing more than $1,000. But for those looking to dedicate their time to a single game with deep strategy and earn solid profits, Spider Tanks is a great choice. Created by the monolithic Gala Games, Spider Tanks will no doubt be integrated into Gala’s impending metaverse plans.
There’s no lore to speak of, but Spider Tanks doesn’t aim to be a game with a story. The story is: defeat the other team. The end. To do this, you’ll need to coordinate with your team. Just like any team free-for-all, there are roles for you to fulfill on your team, and if you neglect them you are more likely to lose. The roles are classic and, at this point, immutable in gaming. You have the tank, the healer, the rogue, and the ranged role, with obvious variations and hybrids in between. When building your tank, ensure that each tank picks a role. And yes, you should have a tank. But also a rogue tank, that moves deadly fast, can flank enemy tanks, and does high damage quickly. Building a sniper tank is smart, as you can pick off enemy tanks from halfway across the map.
I enjoyed a tank with solid health that could spit out small turrets and called in a precise airstrike. I found a good spot on the map that acted as a choke point for the enemy team, and my team did their best to funnel the enemies toward me. It made the unpredictability of player movements less of a problem and I found myself and my team just raked in the kills. If I had more money and more time to grind in Spider Tanks, I’d invest in better armor and a stronger cannon, but keep the same strategy.
Team Deathmatch is the most popular mode, but there are also Capture the Flag and Capture the Chicken modes. There are tons of maps to learn and lots of weapons to figure out. I could easily spend too much time grinding away in Spider Tanks. It’s a quality game that’s just simple enough to survive all the complex controversies that plague other web3 games. Cough cough, Axie Infinity, cough cough.
Mirandus is an ambitious MMORPG title that was set to be the first MMORPG in web3. Alas, its ambition slowed down its development, and now other games have claimed the first spot. Even now, after numerous play tests, Mirandus is still very much in development.
But, I can hear you saying, why is it on this list?
Here we have another game produced by Gala Games, and this may be the one they’re investing in the most. Mirandus has plans of being an entirely player-driven game. Player-driven economy, government, marketplace–everything. And Mirandus will also be included in Gala Games’ metaverse. Plans are for five player-monarchs to rule the land, and everyone else to just live in it. However, in a truly player-driven world, if players hate their monarch and enough of them band together, they could launch a rebellion and install a new monarch. If players see a need for a business in Mirandus’ world, they can open up that business and make a killing. If there are too many businesses with shady dealings, players can band together and create a merchant’s guild that enforces standards and regulations on shop owners.
It’s entirely and completely run by the players. Decentralized AF. This is what other games have promised, by Mirandus seems like it’s poised itself to pull it off. Maybe. If the development team ever gets their stuff together.
In Mirandus, players create an avatar and roam the world in first-person view. There are survival and crafting elements, as well as a dungeon crawler and open-world mechanics. It’s like Skyrim except absolutely everything you encounter in the game is an NFT that’s minted and owned by a player in the world somewhere. It’s like Skyrim except potentially better.
The art style for Mirandus looks like a smooth claymation feature. Their in-game token, materium, is the core element used in creation. If you want to create armor, weapons, or characters, you’ll need materium. And right now the only way to earn materium is through quests in the game. Those quest opportunities are frightfully infrequent as the game is rarely open even for closed alpha playtests. Mirandus has plans to let early adopters of their exemplar NFTs into open alpha “soon,” but when you think about it, what exactly is “soon”?
2) Axie Infinity
The one, the only: Axie Infinity. Even if you’ve never joined the bandwagon if you’re someone who’s existed in the web3 space for any amount of time you’ve heard of Axie Infinity. The game involves the breeding and battling of strange little critters called axies.
At one point in time, Axie Infinity was wildly lucrative. Players sold axies for thousands of dollars, and people were quitting their jobs to breed and battle for 8 hours a day because it was more profitable than their regular careers. Now, Axie Infinity is in a much different place. AXS, Axie Infinity’s token, is worth less than $18 when not long ago it was worth over $150. Many users are fleeing the game for other projects that focus less on grinding and more on the passive play.
Axie Infinity is still–and will continue to be–a heavy-hitter on the Ethereum blockchain. Other contenders have their work cut out for them if they plan to topple this crypto giant. They have a market cap of over $1.4 billion and they process over $110 million in 24 hours. They are still alive and kicking, and now might be a great time for players to get on board. With the price of AXS and ETH so low, players could snag otherwise expensive axies for little money and low fees. And because the development team has stuck with the game and constantly innovated their design, you should rest easy knowing they will continue to fight for this game for years to come.
1) The Sandbox
The Sandbox is enormous in more ways than one. The celebrity endorsements are enormous; the size of their metaverse is enormous; the selection of mini-games to play inside The Sandbox is enormous. The amount of money the move is enormous!
The Sandbox is like a more polished version of Decentraland but at the same time much more pixelated. Where Decentraland focused more on metaverse hangouts first and mini-games second, The Sandbox is the opposite. Mini-games are the bread and butter of The Sandbox. Though metaverse hangouts aren’t the primary focus of The Sandbox currently, they have plans to change that. With celebrity backers like Snoop Dogg and Addidas, with companies like Wendy’s and Apple opening up metaverse stores, The Sandbox is aiming to be a place where you don’t just shop or play. You exist. Heading to someone’s land to watch a virtual concert that is hosted a few plots away is going to be the norm in a few years. Mark my words.
The Sandbox, much like Decentraland, revolves around purchasing land at its core. Good luck getting your hands on and land, though, as their parcels are mostly taken for the moment and even the ones that are for sale are about the same price as property in the real world. Everything is an NFT in the Sandbox, like most other games, but The Sandbox gives you the chance to earn more NFTs by completing mini-games. Or by paying lots of money.
The Sandbox has begun their integration of other games into their metaverse with the inclusion of some BAYC (bored ape yacht club) NFTs. They’ve also partnered with the sci-fi metaverse, Star Atlas, to host giveaways and competitions.
Their native token, SAND, is worth about $1.21 at the time of writing and has an all-time high of $7.51. Its market cap is almost $1.5 billion and they have a daily volume of $190 million. They aren’t just a lucrative game, the SAND token is the 42nd cryptocurrency in the entire crypto market.
With plans to host massive concerts, feature fashion shows, and publish exciting games within itself, The Sandbox is a must-play title.
Other Ethereum Games
These are by no means all the Ethereum games that exist. Nor are they even the best by some people’s standards. I’m sure some people will read this list and wonder where Town Star is and why I didn’t mention Champion’s Arena.
Not all Ethereum games are created equal, and we all know there are more scams out there waiting to rug people than there are teams of dedicated developers who want to create a lasting community of gamers. I ran into more games that looked like flash games from the late 90s while exploring Ethereum’s blockchain than I’d like to admit. Many games don’t merely have bad graphics, they have bad tokenomics, poor transparency, and sometimes obvious red flags. Like Champion’s Arena and Town Star.
There are a plethora of other Ethereum games out there for you to enjoy, and many of them are waiting for players like you to get in on the action early and make big bucks. But many, many more games are waiting for players like you to give them your money and then disappear, often compromising your wallet and other assets.
If you want to venture into the more unexplored games the Ethereum blockchain has to offer, remember to look at a game’s financial backers and their publishing studio. If the game hides that information, it’s best to look at another game to play.
Otherwise, why look any further than the cream of the crop I’ve collected for you? These are diverse games here. You have hundreds of hours of gameplay at your fingertips with these titles.
Question: Some of these games are very expensive. Are there any free-to-play Ethereum-based games?
Answer: Yes, there are plenty. The Sandbox, Decentraland, and Spider Tanks are all free-to-play at first, so you can get a feel for them before investing any money. There are other games like Alien Worlds and Gods Unchained that is free-to-play, but it’s hard to earn any NFTs or income without an investment of some kind. Even Axie Infinity has a free-to-play version.
Question: Is there a way to avoid the gas fees?
Answer: Negative. If you’re trying to pinch your pennies when it comes to eth gas fees, you can rely upon a good Ethereum blockchain scanner, like etherscan.io. It scans the blockchain and crunches all the data you can think of. Using etherscan.io, you can find when the average gas fee is the lowest, which is usually in the wee hours of the morning and do all your transactions then. But waking up at 2 am just to run through some crypto video game transactions feels like the first step toward addiction of some kind, so I leave that up to you.
Question: I’ve got $100 and an itch to start playing web3 games. Where should I start?
Answer: Spread it around, my friend! There’s no need to limit yourself to one game when so many are welcoming. You can jump into The Sandbox and Decentraland without spending a dime. There’s plenty to explore and enjoy in each world for absolutely free. If you like it, drop some dough; if not, move on to the next game. Same with Spider Tanks; there’s plenty of starter content to experience without investing. If you like the game, drop $20 here, $20 there, $30 over there. That way, you’re planting seeds in multiple metaverses and you’re not missing out on anything. And during the current bear market, you can get plenty of tokens and NFTs for these games for cheap. It’s a great time to invest since your money will go much further. In crypto, the concept is called dollar-cost averaging (DCA), where you put a little bit in at a time instead of all your investment at once. So, DCA that money around, amigo.
Question: I play games like Fortnite, Apex, and COD. Are there any games like that on Ethereum, or should I stay where I’m at?
Answer: Yeah. Stay where you’re at. Web3 has a long journey ahead if it wants to catch up to where traditional gaming is currently. I booted up and played the most recent Resident Evil title the other night, and it was exhilarating to play a game with such rich detail, story, and environment. After so long in web3 gaming, I’d almost forgotten what that kind of quality was like. So, if you’re a sweaty gamer that fights for the solo win every time you put your headset on, web3 is not going to interest you for some time. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t position yourself to do well when it has finally matured. Get your hands on some eth and stake it, and in a few years, when major triple-A gaming studios all have NFT departments that manage multiple metaverses, you’ll be sitting pretty, my friend.
The games listed here aren’t just popular games for the Ethereum blockchain, they are some of the most popular games in all of web3. They have collected millions of players, billions of dollars, and the greatest minds in the gaming industry. These games will no doubt lead the way into whatever gaming future we end up with.
If you’re looking to invest in a web3 game, these are some of your best choices. They are highly vetted, have dedicated teams that continue to work in bear or bull markets, and they’re fun. Isn’t that the most important thing?
If you’re thinking of getting into the behemoth that is Axie Infinity but isn’t sure the weird critters are your style, check out this list of
And if none of these games float your boat or tickle your fancy, then perhaps the life-draining gameplay of Splinterlands will be more up your alley
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