All blockchain games are instances of DApps, or decentralized apps (though not all dapps are games!). As decentralized gaming apps, blockchain games are open source, decentralized and distributed.
Many blockchain games feature NFTs (non-fungible, or ERC-721 tokens; see below) or some in-game ERC-20 currency – sometimes both. All blockchain games include at some point payments with the cryptocurrency that is native to their host blockchain, the most popular being ETH.
Most blockchain games iterate over certain schemes. You might have heard of the most popular ones: apps for collecting and breeding characters, apps that add battles and item crafting to the collectibles scheme, idle games in which you sit back and watch your character progress through levels, and good old fashioned gambling games. Explore this FAQ to learn more about how blockchain games work. And explore the rest of the website to learn about the games themselves!
Dapps are open source applications that run on open blockchains. They are decentralized: their data and the records of their operations are not stored in one central server, but on all the nodes on the blockchain's network.
On some sense, not even the creators of the DApp own it; they designed it and set it up to run on the blockchain, but they can't take it down or manipulate it, and the app won't have any downtime. This makes DApps a great medium for games!
Blockchain games have become insanely popular since the success of Crypto Kitties in November 2017. The reason is that their decentralized nature offers an advantage over run-of-the-mill, centralized video games: it allows players to truly own the in-game items or characters they collect.
This was a huge innovation. The business model behind big centralized video games has lead players to spend hours painstakingly earning in-game items, characters and currencies that are, at the end of the day, still owned by the game companies. Many games forbid the trading of in-game items, opening the door to black markets that are rife with scams.
Blockchain games not only allow, but encourage trading of in-game items; many of them with their own in-game marketplace. Since these transactions are based on smart contracts in the blockchain, the transaction information is distributed across all the computers in the network, and scams are virtually impossible.
The whole premise behind blockchain games is that they grant players full ownership over in-game items and characters. How do they guarantee this? In-game items are tokenized. Specifically, they’re made into ERC-721 tokens.
ERC-721 tokens, unlike ERC-20 tokens, are non-fungible assets, or NFTs. Non-fungible means each one is unique – that’s where they get their value from. Consider the following comparison: when you own an ERC-721 item, you know no other player in the world has the same one – but when you own an ERC-20 token, you know it’s just as valuable as any other token of the same kind. The 0.1 ETH that I own are just as good as the 0.1 ETH my friend owns, and if I sent her 0.1 ETH and she sent me the same amount, nothing will have changed. However, if I own a brown Crypto Kitten with a long tail and my friend owns a green one with a short tail, they are not the same, they don’t necessarily hold the same value, and if we swapped them, we would notice! These kitties are ERC-721 tokens.
Their non-fungibility makes ERC-721 tokens very useful for tracking ownership, because each one is different from the rest. Though blockchain gamers do not own the rights to an item's artwork, they do own the string of code that identifies it in the blockchain it. Thus, players are free to sell or trade the items they own on any market, with anybody they please, and the items cannot be confiscated by the game developers, nor lost to a bug or attack.
Smart contracts are a key element in dapps in general, and in blockchain based games in particular, because they add trustlessness – which actually means these games is more trustworthy than centralized games.
A smart contract is a piece of code that self-executes the terms of a contract on the blockchain. When two parties sign into a smart contract, the terms of their agreement are written out in code, and any cryptocurrency involved in the deal is saved on the blockchain. The contract only goes through if the necessary terms are met, which means you can safely sign into it without fearing the opposite party might swindle you.
Take the following example: Jackie wants to buy an in-game sword from Nick. Both parties agree that Nick will hand Jackie ownership of the sword and Jackie will hand Nick 0.2 ETH before August 2nd. They write a smart contract that will hold the sword and the money on the blockchain. On the aforementioned date, Jackie will receive the sword, but only if she has already sent the transaction. If she fails to do this by August 2nd, the sword will simply return to Nick. No harm done, just some time wasted.
In blockchain games (and in dapps in general), smart contracts are not only used to buy items. They’re used to hold the code that makes up the game. For example, in a breeding game like Crypto Kitties, a series of smart contracts hold the kitties genetic codes, and dictate how offsprings are generated.
If you click the Show Contracts button on each game’s page, you’ll be directed to the Etherscan pages for each game’s smart contracts. This is the transparency we were mentioning before; watching a game’s smart contracts includes viewing their code, watching ETH transactions, ERC-20 transactions, ERC-721 transactions, events and comments. If you’re going to use blockchain games as investment tools, you’ll be wise to keep up with each game’s inside developments!
When browsing for a blockchain game to invest your time and ETH into, you’ll want to check a few stats:
Collectibles, gambling, idle, battle games – really just anything that comes our way.
First thing’s first: in any Ethereum based game, you’re going to pay for some initial items in ETH. To play from your computer, you’ll want to install a browser extension that lets you run Ethereum dapps on your browser without running a full Ethereum node – this would be Metamask.
Metamask is like an ETH wallet. It will let you comfortably handle in-game ETH payments as you play. You can learn more about Metamask and install the add-on in Chrome, Firefox, Opera, or Brave browser, fromthis link.
If you’re playing an Ethereum based game on mobile, install Toshi or Cipher. You will find them on the Google Play store.
Once you’ve installed one of the wallets mentioned above, you can purchase some ETH from the exchange that suits you best, and transfer it to said wallet.
From this point on, you can head over to the website of the game that you want to play. Each game is slightly different. Some have marketplaces where you can buy characters or items using Metamask. Others have boards where you can browse through betting offers. Some will ask you to pay an ETH fee in order to battle against other players. Each time, the game will prompt you to send the transaction using Metamask or one of the mobile wallets.
RNG stands for Random Number Generator. Blockchain games use transparent RNGs on smart contracts to to give players the guarantee that the devs are not manipulating the outcomes of battles or skill and luck games.
It depends on the game. Most blockchain games include some sort of collectible item that you must initially purchase. This is where most of their revenue comes from. Some games additionally charge a fee for in-game activities like battling or breeding. Games that incorporate gambling make money simply by house edge.
Gas is like a unit of work on the Ethereum network. It’s a price in ETH that you have to pay for nodes to process your transaction request, or to execute a smart contract. When you request a transaction, you can set a gas limit: the highest amount of ETH that you’re willing to pay for the transaction to be processed. If you set a higher amount, the transaction will be processed faster than if you set a lower amount (it could take hours). If the processing goes over budget, you lose your gas, and the transaction is marked incomplete.
Gamunculus features “Gas used” as a stat on each game’s page. This indicates how much gas has been paid to execute smart contracts in the game. A higher gas usage indicates many transactions are being issued, which means gas fees will be higher per transaction since the network will be overloaded with requests.