There are more than 2 billion gamers across the globe, equating to just over a quarter of the world’s population. Let that sink in for just a moment. Gaming is now the largest industry on the planet, bigger than music and movies combined, generating over $200 billion in 2021. Within the games industry, we have seen a select few that have transcended beyond the norm and stand above all others. Within these that sit atop the pantheon of gaming comes huge and untapped potential in the form of NFTs and real ownership of in-game assets.
Over the past decade or so, we’ve seen the rise of live service games. This means a game that after launch is updated throughout its lifetime, either continuously, or in the case of Fortnite, until a next chapter is released. The idea behind this concept is to keep content fresh, avoiding fatigue, thus keeping gamers within the ecosystem and spending their hard earned dollars to keep the cash cow flowing. The thing is that in most cases, many of the updates include new items, equipment, skins, vehicles and the majority of these games have built in marketplaces where all of this can be bought! Everything is already in place for NFT implementation.
Clearly if you’re a gamer, you know all of this already.
However, did you know that some developers and publishers have dabbled with NFTs to much pushback from the general gaming community? Last year, Konami, creators of legendary franchises such as Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill and Castlevania, released 14 NFTs to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Castlevania series. Despite huge backlash from the gaming media and community, all the tokens were sold and raised a cool $157,000 for the company.
Ubisoft has also taken the plunge in the form of Ubisoft Quartz, introducing unique weapons and equipment to Ghost Recon: Breakpoint – again, to major criticism. As of now, we’ve yet to see successful implementation of NFTs into a mainstream game with many publishers backtracking due to community rage.
Pretty grim reading right? Not all hope is lost though. Recently, Square Enix sold off the majority of their western development teams, including studios responsible for the likes of Tomb Raider to Embracer Group for $300 million. The reason for this? To take the money and reinvest in the blockchain, amongst other fields. Square Enix, just like us, can see the future, and it’s a wonderful NFT filled paradise. With this in mind, it’s only a matter of time until companies push through the backlash and start implementing non-fungibles into their games. Without further ado, I believe these five games will provide the best springboard due to their current popularity and how seamlessly NFTs can be integrated.
As the biggest gaming property on the planet, how could we not include this free to play juggernaut. Fortnite is available on pretty much every platform and has amassed over 3.8 billion days played over its lifetime, that’s over 10.4 million years of gametime from players across the globe. In case you’re the one person in the world who isn’t aware of this battle royale hit, the game takes place on a single island where 100 players drop in from a flying “battle bus” empty handed, where they must scavenge, build and murder everyone who they come across to be the last person standing. While battle royale is the core gamemode, the game now has a huge variety of modes, including user created content.
Fortnite is essentially primed and ready for NFT implementation. With an in-game item shop where players can and most definitely do spend real world money on character skins, weapon wraps, and dance moves (anyone remember the floss?). Taking all that into consideration, Epic Games could with relative ease introduce a selection of NFTs in the form of any of the above. Imagine dropping out of the battle bus, with a highly valuable 1/1 skin which only you own, to the envy of everyone else? Wow, the thought of that is quite something right?
Now just say you grow tired of Fortnite, you simply go to a secondary market place, list your assets and you’re in the money. There is no doubt of selling given the game’s popularity, there would be plenty of buyers lining up to join the exclusive club of Fortnite NFT holders. Lastly, Fortnite is a game played in seasons, meaning every few months there is a major refresh. This provides their developers with an opportunity to release NFTs on a semi consistent basis and keep the money rolling in for them, and us. Epic Games could even allow the community to create and sell their own NFTs leading to a living breathing P2E ecosystem. It’s really a win-win situation.
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
Final Fantasy XIV is a hugely popular, massive multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG). FF14 is a top down dungeon crawling game, where players can team up with up to seven others and go on quests to kill bosses and collect sweet loot. Upon booting up the game, you are required to create a hero in an image of your choosing and select a class such as mage, samurai etc. – you know, all the classics. From here, the adventure begins with three huge cities to explore and make friends in, through to the vast lands where monsters and bosses await their demise.
To be honest, this entry could have been replaced by a number of other games that sit within the same genre such as Lost Ark or World of Warcraft – however, we settled on FF14 due to the fact that it often ranks first in active daily player count (FF14 1.83m average, Lost Ark 1.7m average, WoW 1.13m average). In truth, all three and many more MMORPG’s would benefit from NFTs, but here we will discuss just one.
In one word, loot. FF14 is full of loot, be it weapons, armor or items. As with most looters, each of these come in various forms of rarity, with the rarest requiring hours upon hours of in-game grind. What’s more is that there are unofficial third party marketplaces where players can buy, sell and trade items for real world currency. The difference is that everything available in the game can be earned with enough time, meaning that nothing can be classed as non-fungible. Many players don’t have the time or patience to commit to getting these hard to earn pieces, especially when luck often comes into play with random loot drops. This leads many players to secondary markets to acquire rare loot.
If players are already spending money on rare, in-game items, it wouldn’t be a stretch to suggest that they would also be willing to spend money on one of a kind items, namely NFTs. These could be introduced as weapons, armors or even unique customisation traits which would likely be swept up at mint given the huge player count. Also, FF14 is a game that requires a small monthly fee to play beyond a certain level, this means that long-time players are already hugely invested in the universe. The good news is that FF14 is a game owned by Square Enix, who sold off a ton of their studios in order to fund investment into the blockchain. Therefore, the likelihood is that everything that we have discussed may already in motion.
Another game that needs little to no introduction is GTA Online. GTA Online was released initially back in October 2013. GTA has spanned three generations of consoles, generating more than $6 billion in total revenue for Rockstar Games. There is a theory circulating that it is due to the extortionate amounts of money GTA Online is making that makes Rockstar Games hesitant to move away from it and begin development on GTA VI. However GTA VI has now finally been officially announced as “in production”. No doubt, once released, the next entry into the beloved series will come with a new version of GTA Online or the current ecosystem will migrate over to the new game engine. For those living without technology (how are you reading this?), GTA Online is an open world game where players can meet up with their friends and cause havoc in the fictional city of Los Santos.
Within the ecosystem of GTA Online, gamers have already been pre-programmed to spend their hard earned dollars on in-game assets including clothing, weapons, vehicles and even city apartments. This means that everything is already in place for a huge collection of NFTs. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the opportunity and potential.
Currently, everything that you buy can also be bought by other gamers to play with in their own game. That fancy apartment that you own? Millions of others will own the exact same one. Given the scope of the city, it’s entirely feasible for Rockstar to drop in a collection of penthouse suites and mansions that can only be owned by a single person with the NFT acting as the digital ‘key’ to enter. With gamers already spending over $6 billion, there would be plenty open to the idea of genuine ownership of exclusive items.
Exploding in popularity pretty much instantly upon its release in 2020, Genshin impact is a free to play action RPG set in an anime inspired open world. Players can switch between four playable characters, with more being unlockable through a gambling mechanic which we see in many NFT projects known as the ‘gacha’ system. Weapons of varying rarities can also be obtained through this mechanic, which can be accessed by using the in-game currencies that can be earned through gameplay or bought with real money. Sounds familiar right?
Genshin Impact has a worldwide appeal, being played across all major continents and peaking at an all time high of just over 10 million concurrent players. It’s estimated that the game draws in a total of more than 60 million players within a 30 day period. Supply, meet demand. With the game already having many mechanics in place that we see in NFT projects, there’s little reason why the development team couldn’t create a collection containing exclusive characters and weapons – and with its anime style, it already falls into a popular NFT meta. Taking into consideration, a player base of 60 million+, an NFT collection of any size would likely be swept up within seconds and the secondary market would thrive.
League of Legends
Rounding off our list is online battle arena game, League of Legends (LoL). Coming in with 150 million registered users, of which 125 million are active on a monthly basis, this game is amongst the most popular in the world with an extremely active professional community. LoL is known as a MOBA, a massive online battle arena game in which two teams of five challenge each other with powerful champions to destroy the other’s base. In order to excel, elite levels of strategy are required alongside split second decision making where a single call could lead to victory or loss. Millions of people tune in to watch professional teams face off in competition and compete for huge prize pools, making this a top tier game for NFT implementation given its global appeal.
At face value, it may not be obvious as to where NFTs could slot into the games economy. Weapons and skills are tied to in-game Champions and, therefore, are not tradeable while there isn’t an in-game marketplace. Where NFTs would excel is via skins. Skins are hugely popular and players often spend large amounts of money to buy new costumes for their Champions. Introducing an NFT collection of LoL skins would be an incredibly smart move in my humble opinion.
Professional players in particular would feel the FOMO as the urge to show off their exclusive Champion skin would be overwhelming considering the amount of eyes that would be on them during high level tournaments. The skins would have to be purely cosmetic to protect the integrity of the game, but this wouldn’t matter in the slightest. Imagine a world in which pro teams are all kitted out in their NFT skins. The developers at Riot Games could even collaborate with the best teams to create team based collections. Now that’s a great idea!
To be honest, there are many games that could benefit from NFT implementation, narrowing them down to a list of five was not an easy task. Therefore, to appease those readers who are screaming at this list saying “how could you not include this game”, here’s a few more that must introduce NFTs.
- Call of Duty: Warzone
- Dota 2
- Counter Strike: Global Offensive
- EA games with Ultimate team
- World of Warcraft
- Path of Exile
- Destiny 2
- Apex Legends
- Rocket League
- Guild Wars 2
So there we have it, our list of five mainstream games that must introduce NFTs. While you may disagree with the specific games, it cannot be denied that there is a huge amount of potential out there. Despite the current backlash amongst the wider gaming community, the ball is already rolling, albeit slowly. As with most things, genuine change takes time. It is only a matter of time until we see non-fungibles in the mainstream and once they are adopted by a game with mass appeal, the rest will follow after seeing the benefits.