The Inevitability of Cross-Chain Gaming-Specific NFT Marketplacesby@mashacryptoprlab
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The Inevitability of Cross-Chain Gaming-Specific NFT Marketplaces

by Masha PrussoJanuary 17th, 2022
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The average player spends about $400 on the play-to-earn Axie Infinity platform, and $3.6 billion has been traded on its in-house marketplace alone. Gaming-specific NFT marketplaces will soon see gaming-specific marketplaces. NFT-focused video games like League of Ancients (LOA) will need platforms like this for cross-blockchain trading. LoA seeks to become the biggest MOBA game in the world, which is no easy feat given the size of this industry.
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Right now, one of the biggest gaming marketplaces is OpenSea. In 2021, it reported around $10 Billion in total all-time sales, the vast majority of that being in 2021. A lot of this was due to a $3.4 billion transaction volume during the month of August, as a result of frenzied interest in artistic NFTs.

But this is not all that much when you compare it to standalone blockchain-based games. Axie Infinity, an NFT-focused video game developed on the Ethereum network, surpassed $1 Billion in total trade volume in August of 2021, perhaps the most prominent 30-day period in the history of NFTs.

Axie Infinity is often described as a marketplace, but you can only trade in ‘Axies,’ one NFT.

The average player spends about $400 on the play-to-earn Axie Infinity platform, and $3.6 Billion has been traded on its in-house marketplace alone. It describes itself as a ‘play-and-earn’ economy.

Why We Need Gaming-Specific NFT Marketplaces

With the level of trade volume experienced by NFT gaming platforms such as Crypto Kitties, Axie Infinity, and Crypto Punks, it stands to reason that we will soon see gaming-specific NFT marketplaces. Trade volumes are too large to stick to a single platform for long. It’s also likely that as these gaming NFTs evolve, OpenSea might not be the best place to market them.

OpenSea is very heavy on artistic NFTs, and it’s entirely possible that these simple NFTs will be deprecated within 2 years. Moreover, to say that the blockchain industry is ‘fast-paced’ is an understatement. Even the people working in the industry have a tough time staying up to date with innovations, not to mention laypeople who are new to the idea of cryptocurrencies and NFTs.

The features and architecture of game-specific NFT marketplaces are not yet set in stone. But with the amount of money people are spending and with the sheer amount of time spent on online gaming platforms, a dedicated NFT platform is needed. Gamers are expecting it and are waiting for it, as it will doubtless mean fewer fees, more rewards, and cross-chain compatibility.

Modern games like League of Ancients (LOA), the world’s first free-to-play and play-to-earn MOBA NFT game, will need platforms like this for cross-blockchain trading. LOA seeks to become the biggest MOBA game in the world, which is no easy feat given the size of this industry. The MOBA gaming industry is huge and played a large role in the growth of the eSports arena. But without a viable marketplace for trading and a supporting economy, it could prove difficult to attract the attention of a large number of gamers. Much of it revolves around fees, incentives, and, of course, marketing and advertising.

Cross-Chain Compatibility a Necessity

At present, gamers purchase their assets within a specific game. That particular asset is unique to that gaming ecosystem, so when you leave the game, you leave the asset. This is actually a dreadful waste of resources when you consider that the lines are blurring between gaming, investment, and trading.

What this means is that we need to have extreme efficiency in NFT trading and investment - the exact opposite of what has happened to Crypto Kitties on the Ethereum blockchain. This is partially why new games are being built on other blockchains without high gas fees. SolChicks, an NFT MOBA game, is designed on the Solana blockchain.

The SolChicks game is a play-to-earn model where you mint your own SolChick (for a price roughly equal to what you pay for an Axie) that you play within the Metaverse. The SolChick will have an occupation in the Metaverse and can farm land. The NFTs are rapidly evolving - the NFT marketplace is not yet there.

New games offering complex NFTs will require unique marketplaces that are specific to gaming and that are compatible with a wide variety of blockchains. Interoperability is key to the success of gaming NFTs and assets need to be efficiently traded for it to work.

With fully functional NFT marketplaces for these assets, you never lose them. You will be able to trade assets from one game (or VR Metaverse, as may soon be the case) for an NFT asset in a different game.

A Void in the Web 3.0 Gaming Marketplace

Gaming is a huge industry, and NFT trading is only one way to earn an income from it. From a broader perspective, games can be likened to entire economies, or even Metaverses, in themselves. There are NFTs, and then there are the tradeable tokens within the platform (the ‘currency’ of the game, similar to the currency of a country), then there are more speculative and third-party approaches.

For instance, there are already certain companies (‘guilds’) who are focused purely on generating yield from NFT-based games. There could easily be hardware-compatible NFTs - ones that only work when the user has ‘signed in’ to a VR headset. A whole suite of security validation protocols is going to be necessary too. The more accounts and networks you are in, the greater the potential security vulnerabilities.

The main consideration right now is which games are going to take center stage. Historically, gamers have a tendency to gravitate towards more powerful ecosystems and get centralized there, often for years. In the past, these games would include World of Warcraft, Starcraft, League of Ancients, and DOTA2. If a gaming marketplace can accommodate the NFTs in some of the major Web 3.0 games, it could be likely that more will follow the same marketplace.

At present, there really is no NFT gaming marketplace allowing for cross-chain trading of NFTs. The marketplaces that do exist cater nearly exclusively to digital art NFTs on select blockchains. This is a major market gap given the transaction volume and growth spurts in both general online gaming and NFTs. But it’s unlikely to remain like this for long.

Yet the writing's on the wall. Gamers don’t want to waste thousands of hours on a game only to leave it and start again. Meaning that all games will have to be compatible with these (soon-to-manifest) NFT marketplaces, or gamers won’t use them, as they won’t be able to trade the rewards for participating in that game. Serious gamers are going to consider how they get rewarded, so developers need to really think about incentives.

A Question of When, Not If

With the financial aspect being heavily interwoven into gaming economies, it may only be a matter of time before we see cross-chain, cross-game NFT marketplaces. This will increase efficiency and allow gamers to take assets with them, so they can retain more profits for time spent on platforms. This will also free up developers to build better quality games that work on many different networks and devices.

And it might only be the first step. Imagine a world where the NFT skins in one game actually work equally well in another game, followed by compatible VR Metaverse worlds.

Either way, things are certainly speeding up in the NFT gaming industry, and we will see more interoperability, efficiency, and equality across many aspects of online gaming, facilitated by cross-chain gaming specific-NFT marketplaces.

Vested Interest Disclaimer: The author holds tokens in League of Ancients. The opinions in this article belong to the author alone and should not be considered investment advice.