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Crypto gaming: a year in review

The top gaming news from 2018; who made it, who bit the dust, and the most prominent events of the year

2018 was an interesting year in crypto. A lot of good and a lot of bad happened, and the whole year came and went at a neck-breaking speed. Although the numbers might have dropped towards the end of the year, things are starting to look up once again. This December, games have outranked exchanges in terms of DAU. During the year this happened a couple of times for some short periods of time, but this last run has been pretty stable: the total DAU for exchanges is 2,000-2,500 while games DAU is at 3,000-4,000. These numbers however are still far from the 14,198 DAU that were playing on December 9th last year when the whole market was emerging. The current figures are still one of the bests of 2018, though, so things seem to be going up as the year approaches its end. As for volume, there's little to show. The peak of the year was 33,844.42 ETH, which happened on February 14th. This was the exception rather than the norm, as only a few times throughout the year volume surpassed 1,000 ETH per day. In reality, games have struggled to surpass the 200-600 ETH per day mark.

Game tokens experienced all the rises and falls of cryptomarket. Decentraland’s MANA had a maximum of $0.26 on January 9th, and a minimum of $0.044 on December 16th, and the price hasn’t changed much for the last 2 weeks. Enjin started 2018 with a maximum of $0.49, but after series of drops is now trading for $0.02-0.04. As for GOLDER, the token of WAR FIELD, it was listed on Coinbene a month ago and after a rapid uptake to $0.014, fell to a minimum of $0.006. It has slightly recovered recently and is trading for $0.007-0.008 at the moment.

All in all, despite the momentary drawbacks, it was a good year for games, as most of the currently top-ranked dapps — in terms of users — that run on Ethereum are games. This is still not the case for TRON and EOS, but that’s because they are rather new platforms that are bound to change in the future as more and more games start adopting these chains. During the year, we saw how some of these games finally saw their release or started their pre-sales to astounding success, while others flopped or the projects just fizzled out with time. Records were broken and expectations were both exceeded and not met. Most importantly, your favorite intergalactic purple creature (not Thanos) was there with you, so we wanted to do the same as every other media outlet, and start saying goodbye to 2018 with a yearly review. Get ready to be taken through the good, the bad and the ugly of this year with a dash of bitterness and a twist of assclownery. Gameunculus style, baby!

The good: The best crypto games of 2018

This year witnessed many important developments within the crypto gaming universe. Some of these games thrived and rose to the occasion to bedazzle players everywhere. Some other platforms alternative to Ethereum also jumped into the fray and made a name for themselves. The people responsible for these positive developments in the industry will surely remember 2018 fondly. These are the winners of the year.

At the time of writing, My Crypto Heroes is atop the rankings in terms of volume and user count. This newly-found success correlates directly with their crowd sale, whose main feature is that 50% of the ETH used to purchase a Hero is set to be refunded to the player once the game is released. On November 30, and in just one hour, they broke their own sales record. After the first day had finished, they recorded over 500 ETH in sales, and they’ve been enjoying success ever since. Even though the spike in volume was short-lived and decreased heavily after November 30, the user base seems to be steadily growing, surpassing 1,000 daily players for the first time in December 26th. Not bad for a bunch of pixelated historical figures, huh?

Blockchain Cuties is always amidst the latest trending news in crypto gaming, and deservedly so. Back in March, a new crypto collectible game was announced by the Etherium chain, but not many people thought it would be as successful as it is now. Always trendy and at the forefront, the Cuties have known to reinvent themselves again and again with different types of exclusive Cuties and by expanding into different chains. They made history on October 30th when they became the first game in the world to support both Ethereum and EOS blockchains. This November, the Cuties announced they would be integrating with TRON as well to help them reach a bigger audience and tackle some scalability and speed issues their motherchain may come with.

This constant update and release of new features and new Cuties (Christmas and Halloween events, raid bosses, tribute Cuties based on Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Hedgehogs and Dark Souls, to name a few) have kept their playerbase engaged and on their toes, always on the lookout for a new event or pop-culture Cutie. One such Cutie is one of the biggest highlights of the year, as the Cuties partnered up with Gameunculus himself to release its own Cutie for Christmas!. Finally, Gamie is able to play with himself without having to make Jesus cry.

CryptoKitties is another one of those games that have managed to stay at the top of the charts ever since its release, not so bad for being the OG crypto collectible game. They have a steady number of users, averaging 300 users per day. On December 4th 2017, they had their highest volume to date, peaking at 5,144.62 ETH. One of the biggest highlights for the Kitties this year happened in September, when Kitty #896775 was sold or 600 ETH, or $172794.17, which makes it the most expensive Kitty by far. On December 2017 they experienced the most users in one day, with 14,194 players on the 9th. This year things have been slowing down for them, but they are in the top 5 game dapps on the Etherium blockchain.

Etheremon on the other hand experienced the opposite, as its DAU numbers rose throughout the year and have remained above 350 since early October while in the first half of the year that number hardly surpassed the 200. Their biggest sale took place three months ago, on October, when one lucky buyer — and seller — got the legendary Zedakazm for 12.61 Ether.

One final shoutout goes to Gods Unchained, the MTG-inspired crypto trading card game that has made the headlines a bunch of times. Since its inception, the game has sold well over 1 million cards, with one of them being sold for 137.8 ETH, roughly $60,000 at the time of bidding, making it the second most valuable TCG item in the world, being beaten only by Magic’s Black Lotus. If that’s not a highlight, then we don’t want to know what is…

The good: New blockchains in town

2018 saw the rise of many new alternative blockchains, most notably Justin Sun’s TRON. In record time, TRON has hit many noteworthy milestones and partnered up with some of the most prestigious crypto games. It’s as if TRON became the prettiest girl in town, and everybody wants to take her to prom. Get in line, boys!

To put things into perspective, we knew about the first game based on the TRON network back in late September. That means that in around three months, the TRON platform has partnered up with some of the biggest players out there, like Blockchain Cuties and Chibi Fighters, which will be released on the platform on December 28 and somewhere in March, respectively. The reason behind why many crypto projects are partnering with TRON is because of its high workrate and scalability, allowing 2,000 transactions each second, much more than Ethereum’s 25. Some of the other games that are based on TRON are Aftermath Islands, CropBytes, Eggies World, and the already mentioned Magic Academy.

But that’s only half of it. Another huge highlight of the year was the initiative known as TRON arcade, a $100M fund that will be invested over the next 3 years to empower developers. Talk about injecting life to crypto gaming with that sweet, sweet dough!

“I gotta do it, man” said Gamie when he knew about TRON Arcade and the buttload of money involved in it.

Another case of a new blockchain making its debut is EOS. EOS mainnet was definitely one of the big winners in blockchain technology this year. After a somewhat rocky start, EOS had an amazing growth rate during 2018’s third quarter, growing by an approximate 708%. In August they launched EOS Knights — their first RPG mobile game. Three days later the game had reached 1,000 players, and by the beginning of December, they celebrated 10,000 players. At the moment of writing EOS, Knights was the second best performing EOS dapp, which is proof that slowly but surely, crypto games are taking over the charts of the TRON and EOS chains as well.

Back in July, another exciting event for EOS took place when EOSBet, who used to create games for the Ethereum and the EOS blockchains, announced they would officially migrate to the latter, ending their relationship with ETH for good. One of the reasons they made this decision was in relation to scalability, since EOS is much faster at handling transactions. Once again, this is a blockchain that heavily surpasses ETH, with a nearly all-time high of 4,000 Transactions Per Second

The bad: Games that didn’t make it

In an industry as frenetic and ruthless as crypto gaming, death of projects are to be expected. One such case was Lordmancer II.One of the games that went out of business is Lordmancer II. Famous por being the self-proclaimed first MMORPG with a cryptoeconomy, the dev team announced on early December that they had run out of funds to continue development. They cite unwillingness from publishers, advertising costs, the crash of cryptomarkets and the low player retention rates as the main reasons why the game is shutting down.And you know that without innovation, there isn’t really anywhere to go. The team stated that they will keep the game running for as long as they will be able to, until they are eventually forced to shut down all facilities, which will be in a couple of months.

To Gameunculus’s — and yours too I’m sure — surprise, one of the most hyped games of 2018, Cubego, failed to meet its completion as their presale went south.. The team behind the game have suspended the game since they couldn’t raise enough to sustain its development. Apparently, not everyone was ready for it, and the mechanics of the game ended up being too much for players to handle and it was too difficult to start creating models from scratch. Well, hard for you that is, not for Gameunculus. So basically, we ask for innovation but when it’s being handed to us on a silver platter we don’t like it and send it back. Anyway, Cubego’s team will be refunding the Presale participants by January 4th at the latest and they have said they will improve the game’s mechanics and re-release the game later on, though no estimate dates have been mentioned. Fare well, Cubego!

It is still too soon to tell if the industry (publishers, in this case) is not ready for any sort of game based on crypto economy, but the fact that a promising crypto IP struggled to find support from publishers means that the growing pains of crypto gaming are more than clear. Maybe a different project would have had better luck finding a publisher, but the fact that most players left the game on their second day and that they blew almost half of their budget on marketing was serves as a reminder of some other issues that may lead to a game’s demise.

The ugly: scams and shady practices

Sadly, there’s always going to be someone trying to take what’s yours, and there’s no exceptions in crypto, so let’s see who — we thought — tried to make a few bucks the easy way.

So, not technically a scam but a pyramid scheme. Back in June two out the three most popular dapps on Ethereum had this type of structure and the two combined made $9 million worth of Ether in trading volume in a single day, surpassing CryptoKitties’s — Ethereum’s most popular dapp at the time — highest trading volume to the date. FOMO 3D, one of the aforementioned “games” actually refers to itself as an exit scam in their site. Like when fat Amy nicknamed herself first. The problem with ponzi schemes is that you can’t really tell which games are legit and which aren’t before you invest — or should we say gamble — in them, so you need to be cautious when investing in anything.

One of the tips for avoiding ponzi schemes is to look out for projects that encourage you to bring people into the game but that would include every game with a referral programme. Thankfully, high profile arrests have made people realize that getting away with crypto scamming is not as easy as they may have thought, and this type of cases have decreased.

One scandal that shook the crypto gaming scene in October had WAR FIELD in the eye of the storm because of its delays in paying out their tokens. In response to the first players claims regarding the issue, the WAR FIELD team handled things in pretty much the worst way possible, leading everybody and their grandma to be convinced that it was all a big scam. As it turns out, the delay problems were finally resolved, the tokens were finally paid, and everything was fine in the end. Actually, things were way better than fine, as after only a matter of weeks, WAR FIELD’s currency, GLDR, became fully tradable on CoinBene. That was a huge step towards making crypto gaming enticing to a bigger audience, as GLDR coins are easy to be obtained through normal gameplay, and could be now tradable for Ethereum.

All in all, it has been an exciting year for crypto games. Even though 2018 didn’t paint a pretty picture for crypto in general, games are here to stay. With a lot of advances in groundbreaking technologies and the community’s support, games are gaining more and more territory, bringing crypto one — or many — step closer to mass adoption. Make sure you join Gameunculus’s telegram if you wanna chat about your crypto year and follow him on Twitter for all the latest and coolest news.

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