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What are gaming NFTs?

What are gaming NFTs?

Gaming NFT 101

A gaming NFT is an NFT associated with any digital item from the realm of online gaming and the metaverse: in-game items, characters, skins, customizations, maps, modes, tickets, collectibles–any digital creation that one would use in a gaming environment.

What is an NFT?

NFT stands for “non-fungible token,” which is a unique digital item stored on a blockchain. NFTs can represent almost anything and serve as a digital record of ownership. Unlike dollar bills, which are all interchangeable, NFTs are unique.

How are NFTs connected to blockchain technology?

NFTs live on a blockchain: a digitally distributed ledger that records transactions and information across a decentralized network. It’s a public record verified by its community of users (read: people’s computers) rather than a central entity like a bank.

Blockchain technology can be used with any digital creation, and this is where the NFT comes in. An NFT is a digital token of ownership that’s tied to a specific digital creation. An image, video, a music track, software–anything digital–now can have a secure, trusted, and transparent record of ownership. This gives digital items the same “provable scarcity” as a piece of fine art with impeccable authenticity and provenance. But unlike a piece of fine art, an NFT’s credentials are public and immutable.

NFTs use smart contracts, which are automated computer programs that enforce their own coded rules. Smart contracts use a coded, automated system that executes a rule once a set of criteria is met. Buying and selling NFTs using OpenSea is powered by a smart contract protocol, Seaport.

Smart contracts, and the blockchain at large, allow users to track and validate NFT ownership.

What are the advantages of using blockchains for gaming NFTs?

Interoperability

Interoperability refers to the ability of different systems or components to work together and communicate with each other. Blockchains enable the transfer of NFTs between various games or platforms that support them, enabling greater accessibility, flexibility, and utility in the gaming industry. This utility can come in the form of cross-game use, meaning that NFTs like tools, weapons, skins, or other items can be used in multiple games.

Decentralization

Blockchains are decentralized systems, meaning that they are not controlled by a single entity. This can help to ensure fairness and transparency in the distribution and ownership of NFTs. Famously, Vitalik Buterin created the Ethereum blockchain after his World of Warcraft character was stripped of its powers. This experience showed him “what horrors centralized services can bring.” To many gamers, the concept of a single entity controlling their hard-earned game history is a scary prospect. Decentralization offers gamers a layer of protection and transparency through trustless and permissionless transactions.

Verification

The use of smart contracts on a blockchain can facilitate the verification of NFT ownership and facilitate transactions in a transparent and secure manner.

Immutability

Once an NFT is recorded on a blockchain, the record cannot be altered or deleted. This ensures the authenticity and ownership of the NFT.

Where are NFTs stored?

NFTs are stored on a blockchain. Many different blockchains support NFTs, and OpenSea is compatible with a variety of them. NFTs are managed on the blockchain through smart contracts, which are self-executing contracts with the terms of the agreement between buyer and seller being directly written into lines of code. To buy an NFT, you need a crypto wallet. After buying an NFT, you’ll use your wallet to access your NFT as well.

What defines a gaming NFT?

A gaming NFT is an NFT associated with any digital item from the realm of online gaming and the metaverse: in-game items, characters, skins, customizations, maps, modes, tickets, collectibles–any digital creation that one would use in a gaming environment. It is a unique, blockchain-based item representing a specific item or element within a game.

For example, if you unlocked a tool while playing an NFT-supported game, you could mint that in-game item and take ownership of it. This ownership is verifiable, so your tool can typically be sold, collected, and used just like a real-world item.

Today, purchases or acquisitions made within a game go away the instant the game does. Your “ownership” is contingent on the game developers maintaining the game. Ostensibly, they could choose to take an item away or decommission items you own, causing you to lose them. Additionally, gamers are unable to resell items outside of the closed ecosystem of a given game. With gaming NFTs, digital items can be given provable ownership. Digital items and memorabilia can also have provable scarcity, which gives them a similar supply and demand dynamic to their real-world counterparts.

Another benefit of gaming NFTs is the potential of a new era of “interoperability,” or how things from one game or gaming universe can be used in another. Today, a game and all its items are siloed, which means they exist only within that game. You can’t use a weapon from Halo in the Call of Duty universe or play FIFA as Mario. But if more games leverage blockchain technology as an interoperable ledger for proof of ownership and standardize their systems for how to render and display items, NFTs could eventually allow in-game items from one game to be operable in more games.

Some of this work is dependent on blockchain technology, while some of it is dependent on how the games of the future are built. Organizations like Metaverse Standards are working to provide cooperation between organizations and companies to foster the development of an open and inclusive metaverse.

The sheer quantity of digital items created by both game developers and the billions of fans that play their games dwarfs many other areas of digital items, making gaming NFTs a growing application of blockchain technology.

What are popular types of gaming NFTs?

There are many different types of gaming NFTs, and their popularity can vary depending on the specific game or platform. Some of the most common types of gaming NFTs include:

In-game items

These are virtual items that can be used within a specific game, such as weapons, armor, or other equipment. An example of this is Decentraland Wearables, items of clothing or accessories that can be worn in Decentraland, an Ethereum-powered virtual world.

Decentraland Wearables

Virtual real estate

These are virtual properties that players can own and use within a game, such as houses or land. An example of this is Otherdeed for Otherside. Otherdeed allows users to claim land in Otherside. Each plot has a unique blend of environment and sediment — some with resources, some home to powerful artifacts.

Otherdeed for Otherside

Game avatars

These are digital representations of players within a game that may include unique clothing, accessories, or other customization options. An example of this is ALTAVA Second Skin Metamorphosis, a collection that gives users unique self-expression and digital identity in the metaverse.

ALTAVA Second Skin Metamorphosis

Game characters

These are unique, digital characters that can be used within a game and may have special abilities or attributes.

Digital artwork

These are digital art pieces that may be used within a game or displayed as standalone collectibles.

Play-to-earn and free-to-play NFT games

What are play-to-earn games?

NFTs have enabled a new genre of games called as “play-to-earn games.” These games reward players for time spent playing or unlocking achievements within the games. The methods of earning vary, but they can range from tokens to NFTs. Some play-to-earn games ask for an initial buy-in to play, while others allow you to play for free.

Play-to-earn games differ from traditional "pay-to-win" games, in which players typically have to purchase in-game items or cryptocurrency to advance or be competitive. In play-to-earn games, players can earn NFTs simply by playing the game and demonstrating their skills or dedication.

Some examples of play-to-earn NFT games include Axie Infinity, CryptoKitties, and Cryptovoxels. These games often feature a wide range of in-game activities that can help players earn NFTs, such as completing quests, competing in tournaments, or participating in the game's economy.

What are free-to-own games?

Free-to-own NFT games are blockchain-based games that allow players to co-own the game economy alongside the game’s developers. If their precursors, free-to-play games, are known as “freemium,” then free-to-own games go a step further, actually offering players ownership of some in-game items for free.

In some instances, the game developers attach creator fees to in-game NFTs that allow the developers to earn a fee when items are re-sold. This model allows players to mint NFTs inside of gaming universes and then sell them on NFT marketplaces if they choose, and the game developers can simultaneously earn creator fees off of the sales. Theoretically, this is a win-win: players and game developers earn money, and the process gives wider distribution to games looking to expand their audience. Additionally, since some in-game NFTs are free, it lowers the barrier to entry for players and doesn’t require them to pay for an NFT to start playing the game.

How do gaming NFTs give players ownership?

Gaming NFTs give players ownership of specific in-game items by allowing them to hold and manage the NFTs on a blockchain.

When players obtain an NFT, they are given a unique digital item representing a specific item or element within a game. This NFT is stored on a blockchain and is associated with the player's digital wallet address. If the player is using a non-custodial wallet, they can then use their private key to access and manage the NFT.

Because the NFT is stored on a blockchain, it is a transparent record of ownership. The player can prove ownership of the NFT by showing the transaction history on the blockchain and can transfer ownership of the NFT to another player, including by selling.

Gaming NFTs give players a new level of ownership and control over their in-game items. They can collect and trade unique NFTs and use them to enhance their gaming experience.

In addition, these digital items and creations have a record of ownership that can live on in perpetuity beyond the confines of the games they came from. In the future, a rare item from a game from today–or the game itself–could still be owned, auctioned, or sold, even if the game hasn’t been played in decades. Some items may still be able to be used in the games of the far future if they support the use of NFTs. Gaming NFTs make owning a piece of video game history suddenly possible.

How do gaming NFTs interact with the metaverse?

The metaverse refers to a virtual-and-augmented reality in which users can interact with the digital space, but the definition of “metaverse” is still evolving. It isn’t so much a place as it is a way of connecting and interacting; it can be home to countless worlds or arenas, each with its own lands, characters, and possibilities.

In a future theoretical open metaverse, gaming NFTs could be used to represent a wide range of virtual items, including virtual real estate, clothing, accessories, and other customization options for avatars or in-game characters. These NFTs could potentially be sold on marketplaces like OpenSea, allowing users to buy and sell virtual items that can be used within the metaverse.

How could gaming NFTs transform live competitive gaming?

Some companies are beginning to offer esport event admission, special access, digital collectibles, and memorabilia in the form of NFTs. Tickets for a DOTA tournament, access to fan clubs & channels, and even physical backstage passes or merchandise could potentially be authenticated and owned digitally.

Imagine attending an esports event–your ticket comes with an NFT. It’s provably scarce, and since that proof lives on the blockchain, it cannot be forged–unlike a real ticket stub. At the event, you buy a poster and a t-shirt, and both come with NFTs: one grants access to special PFPs (Profile Pictures) for the game, the other to a VIP experience or community.

NFTs open up an entirely new landscape of possibilities for fan engagement, community, rewards, and membership.

Notable gaming NFTs

NFTs can be used to give both players and developers new ways of making games they love. Players can become stakeholders in a game’s development by buying NFTs that confer developer access, game input, or collaboration. Game developers can mint NFTs for their games to give out to their community, grow their audience and reach, or sell to raise funds for development.

DigiDaigaku is a collection of 2022 unique characters developed by Limit Break, a company founded by world-famous game designers Gabriel Leydon and Halbert Nakagawa. At the mobile game company Machine Zone, Leydon and Nakagawa created Game of War: Fire Age and Mobile Strike, two hugely popular games.

The Sandbox is a community-driven platform in which players can make their own creations for others to experience or play. As the name implies, The Sandbox allows players to craft entire games and experiences, each with their own characters, objects, monsters, and modes. A large part of The Sandbox is its marketplace, where creators buy and sell the things they’ve made. As the community grows, more creations will organically diversify and enrich The Sandbox platform, in turn attracting more users. 

The Sandbox

Axie Infinity is a play-to-earn game in which players catch and battle “Axies,” creatures of various rarities with certain abilities and powers. Like Pokemon, players build collections of creatures to breed and battle, but because Axies are tied to an NFT, they’re verifiably ownable. Players often will loan or rent out a special or rare Axie to a fellow player to breed with their own. 

Axie Infinity

How can I explore and buy gaming NFTs? 

You can explore gaming NFTs in our Gaming NFT section. In order to buy an NFT, you'll need a crypto wallet and cryptocurrency (or, in some cases, just a credit or debit card). Using OpenSea, you can instantly buy items listed for sale, bid in auctions, or make offers on NFTs.

How do I properly vet an NFT before buying?

Web3 technology is still new and constantly evolving, so while no single action guarantees protection, there are best practices that can help. Never share your wallet’s seed phrase, be careful when taking actions using your wallet, and make sure to thoroughly evaluate NFTs before buying. The best rule of thumb is that if something looks too good to be true, it probably is.

OpenSea also has an icon visible via a blue checkmark badge on a collection or account. A blue checkmark badge on an account means that account has been verified for authenticity by OpenSea. A blue checkmark badge on a collection means the collection belongs to a verified account and has significant interest or sales. (OpenSea does not endorse verified accounts or badged collections, and OpenSea makes no representations regarding the NFTs in a verified account or badged collection.)

What gas fees will I pay when buying gaming NFTs?

In web3, the term “gas fee” refers to the payment needed to execute transactions on the blockchain. Gas fees increase when more people use applications that run on top of a blockchain’s network, therefore competing for space within the block. Think of it like Uber’s surge pricing model that increases the cost of booking a ride during the busiest commuting times. OpenSea also doesn’t control gas fees, set gas fees, or receive any of the gas fees incurred by users on the platform. Instead, they all go to network validators or miners.

When you start the NFT purchase process using OpenSea, you’ll see the gas fee broken down by your wallet provider, so you can watch the fee refresh and complete the transaction when it’s low.

🧠 Q&A

Do I need any special hardware to use an NFT in a game?

It depends upon the game. You likely don't need any special hardware to use an NFT in a game that supports it, but the game itself may require special hardware, like a console for example, in which case, you'd need that to play.

How do I know if a game is compatible with NFTs?

The best way to find out if a game offers NFTs is to check the game’s official website, social media pages, or to search for it OpenSea. Most games that offer NFTs will show them on their website and/or social media channels.

How can I use gaming NFTs to customize my experience in games and in the metaverse?

Depending on what the game supports, you might be able to use NFTs to create customized avatars, skins, objects, and experiences. By combining various NFTs together, you could create unique experiences that are specific to your interests.

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