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Web3 Games

10 Best NFT Games to Play in 2022

| by
Dillon Yap

Axie Infinity spearheaded the charge in the play-to-earn (P2E) category, showcasing to the world the potential for blockchain games. During and after its rise to prominence, several other play-to-earn NFT games cropped up shortly, with many putting their own twist on the Axie-textbook formula. The result is an amalgamation of innovative games that are tailored for a plethora of preferences.

In this article, we take a look at 10 of the best (live and upcoming) NFT games to look out for in 2022! If you're still itching for more after this, check out ANOTHER 10 Best NFT Games to Play in 2022 [Part 2].

Note: Games covered in this article are relatively newer NFT games that came out in late 2021, or are geared for a 2022 release. As such, older games such as Axie Infinity and Gods Unchained are not covered here.

1. Ember Sword

Ecosystem: Immutable X
Launch: 2022 (pre-alpha)
Token(s): Ember
Cost to start: Free
Play this if: You enjoy choose-your-own-adventure, isometric RPGs similar to Runescape or Ragnarok
Ember Sword is an upcoming free-to-play MMORPG that takes place in the eponymous digital world housing the four nations of Solarwood, Duskeron, Edison, and Sevrend. The gameplay is reminiscent of 90’s internet sensation, Runescape. Players will be able to roam freely around the world to hunt down monsters, bosses, and rival players to level up. For players who prefer to ply their trade as master craftsmen or merchants, you can opt to explore the world in search of goods and rares to create unique, tradable NFT items. 

The game has an ERC-20 token called Ember, which can be used to acquire land, collectibles, subscription plans and more. Despite this, the team has emphasized the absence of pay-to-win elements in Ember Sword, and that any such purchases will not confer undue advantages to their buyers.

What makes Ember Sword unique is also its approach towards world-building. Unlike other similar MMORPGs such as Maple Story, Runescape, Ragnarok and more, Ember Sword’s lands (which are NFTs) are owned by thousands of players, allowing them to take an active role in world design. Ember Sword is currently in pre-alpha and set to be released for testing to its community in 2022. 

2. StepN

Genre: Move-to-Earn
Ecosystem: Solana
Launch: December 2021 (Beta)
Token(s): GST (utility), GMT (governance)
Cost to start: 1 pair of sneakers (~2 SOL)
Play this if: You are a fitness freak looking to monetize your cardio sessions

STEPN is the first move-to-earn, fitness game in which users can earn an income, not from playing, not from winning, but from moving. The game is accessible to owners of STEPN sneakers, which can be purchased from Magic Eden, or STEPN’s in-game store. The sneakers come in many different types and qualities, and players will have to make careful decisions in picking a pair that maximizes their earnings. In general, the higher the attributes and rarities, the better the sneakers.

Each user will also have limited access to revenue-generating gameplay (AKA workout minutes), and the only way to increase this capacity is to have more pairs of sneakers, with a maximum cap of 100 minutes of continuous gameplay. On average, having 3 pairs of sneakers (not upgraded) will yield a profit of ~17 GST, including daily repair costs. At current prices, that translates to ~$55 a day! Not shabby for just 45 minutes of moving about, especially if this is already a regular part of your daily routine for the fitness freaks out there. Sedentary readers out there - perhaps this could even serve as a good enough push factor for you to adopt a more active lifestyle.

3. Crabada

Genre: Idle Game
Ecosystem: Avalanche
Launch: November 2021 
Token(s): TUS (utility), CRA (governance)
Cost to start: 3 Crabs (~48,000 TUS)
Play this if: You can’t be bothered spending so much time playing Axie Infinity, or you enjoy idle games such as Idle Heroes

Playing games can be a taxing affair, especially one as high-stakes as the current iteration of Axie Infinity where it’s win-to-earn. That is also not to mention the amount of time required to sit through all of the battles, which require cerebral, active management of your Axies. If you’re thinking “that’s waaaaay too much effort”, we might have just the thing for you…

Crabada is by far the most popular play-and-earn game on Avalanche. Players require a minimum of 3 crabs to embark on mining expeditions, which take around 4 hours to complete if unbothered by looters. Completing the mining expedition successfully without being looted will yield the player 3.75 CRA and 303.75 TUS, less so if an enemy team is successful in looting. So what makes Crabada different then? It just sounds like Axie Infinity 2.0 at the moment.

What sets Crabada apart is that it’s an idle game. What this means is that the act of looting and mining for instance are hands-free - you won’t need to be there to make every move for your crabs, they can run the show themselves. Players and CRA hodlers can also stake their CRA on the platform for additional rewards. 

If this isn’t enough to get you started yet, according to Covalent, the top 11 earners on Crabada have earned >$5M collectively in the past 3 months. But the downside is that crabs currently cost a minimum of ~$1,300, which means players would need to fork out $3,900 just to get started. Historically, Crabada has been an extremely profitable “game”, but its high barrier-of-entry makes it hard for the average gamer to participate.

In this article we cover the best strategy to play Crabada to maximize your profits! 

4. Illuvium

Genre: RPG + Auto-battler
Ecosystem: Immutable X
Launch: Q1 2022 (Beta)
Token(s): ILV
Cost to start: TBC
Play this if: Both Pokemon Arceus and Teamfight Tactics tickle your fancy, and you’re curious to see how a fusion of these will turn out

Touted as the first AAA blockchain-based game to grace the cryptoverse, Illuvium is one of, if not the most, anticipated P2E titles to drop in 2022. The game sets the player on an adventure within a fantastical open-world, where they must explore and capture wandering creatures of the world called Illuvials. Illuvials and all other in-game items will be stored on-chain as NFTs in the player’s wallet, and thus can be sold for profit or traded freely. Illuvium also introduces an auto-battler system akin to the ones in DOTA Auto Chess and Teamfight Tactics. You can think of Illuvium as Pokemon, but instead of the iconic turn-based battle system, it’s a 3D auto-battle that takes place in an enclosed Arena.

Also much like Pokemon, Illuvials can come in many different classes and affinities, each with its own strengths and weaknesses that players can strategize around in the Arena. In addition to the main game, there is also Illuvium:Zero, a building game that adds a land component to Illuvium, allowing players to farm resources on their land to build their own industrial complex. 

5. Aurory

Genre: Pokemon
Ecosystem: Solana
Launch: Q1 2022 (Beta)
Token(s): AURY
Cost to start: Free
Play this if: You are a JPRG fan enticed by the idea of a play-to-earn Pokemon game

This is the story of two worlds. On one hand, we have Antik where power is concentrated within the hands of a few (read: tradfi) and on the other, we have Tokane, a parallel universe discovered by the enigmatic figure, Satoshi (read: DeFi). And if this doesn’t already strike you as familiar, the protagonist of this heroic saga is called Sam (check the ecosystem to see why). 

It’s interesting how the story of Aurory highlights the dichotomy between centralization and decentralization, one that the cryptoverse can relate to and rally behind. Slap on elements of Pokemon and Studio Ghibli inspired aesthetics and you have one enchanting package. 

The core gameplay of Aurory mirrors that of classic Pokemon games - a sprawling world with its gameplay centered around capturing monsters called Nefties, and using them to engage in turn-based battles. The difference is that Aurory is play-to-earn, with each Nefty being an NFT that can be traded or sold for profit as well. Players will be able to engage in both PVE and PVP battles to earn rewards.

From the snippets of gameplay presented in trailers, Aurory is a gorgeous game overlaid with Ghibli-esque tranquility. For Pokemon fans who are keen on exploring a play-to-earn equivalent, Aurory might just be the perfect entry point into the world of blockchain Tokane.

6. Pegaxy

Genre: Horse Racing
Ecosystem: Polygon
Launch: Q4 2021 (Beta)
Token(s): VIS (utility), PGX (governance)
Cost to start: 1 Pega (~1 USDT)
Play this if: You want to race horses without any of the usual hassle of feeding, stabling, grooming etc.
Guide: How to Play Pegaxy and How to Get a Pega

Fancy the idea owning legendary horses akin to the likes of Seabiscuit or even the mythical Pegasus? Pegaxy might just be the thing for you - without any of the usual hassle involved in horse rearing such as feeding, stabling, grooming, love, care and more. With just ~200 USDT, you can get your hands on a mighty winged-horse called Pega, which you can use to compete in races to vie for the top 3 spots. Pegas come in different shapes, forms and stats, but the general rule of thumb is higher stats = better.  

Pegaxy also has an innovative trustless rental system in place to facilitate the scholar-owner transactional relationship. Within the game, players will be able to breed, rent, sell and of course, race their Pegas. Each race will take on average 2 mins to complete, with the top 3 winners earning VIS rewards. The results of each race are determined by how well your Pega matches up with the Track. For instance, a Pega with high Fire stats will be more likely to do well on a Fire track. So far, the game has maintained a consistent steady growth in player-base so far and looks poised to continue with more upgrades planned in the future. 

7. Genopets

Genre: Move-to-earn
Ecosystem: Solana
Launch: Jan 2022 (Private Beta)
Token(s): GENE
Cost to start: Free
Play this if: You are a fitness-freak + Pokemon fan looking to monetize your workouts and play Pokemon at the same time

Yes, it’s another move-to-earn game. The formula is the same as STEPN - you move, you earn. But what Genopets is doing differently is that it introduces a Pokemon-esque gamified progression system. The in-game rewards you earn through physical movements can be used to upgrade and evolve your Genopet NFT, allowing it to be even more effective in its battles against other Genopets.

Genopets also emphasize exercising your “mind and spirit” in addition to your body. Hatching a Genopet in the demo for instance requires you to channel your “cognitive exertion” in the process, and the resulting Genopet is one that best complements your spiritual being. Recently, they have also introduced a series of cipher puzzles that users have to complete to gain access to Crystal mints - materials needed to create Genopet Habitats (i.e. lands). The round just completed for Water Crystals but there are many more to come. Hint: The first puzzle's symbols represent the first paragraph from Alice's Adventure in Wonderland.

The core gameplay experience of both Genopets and STEPN seem to mirror each other, with slight differentiation in their design that might appeal to different sub-crowds within the fitness community. But hey, who says you can’t have both running in the background at the same time during your workout. 

8. Thetan Arena

Genre: MOBA
Ecosystem: Binance Smart Chain
Launch: Nov 2021
Token(s): THC (utility), THG (governance)
Cost to start: Free
Play this if: You enjoy the skills-based challenges offered by MOBA games such as Wild Rift or Brawl Stars
Guide: How to Play Thetan Arena - Complete Beginner’s Guide

Typical of MOBA games, Thetan Arena offers a sprawling selection of heroes for players to choose from, ranging from assassins to tanks to marksmen that can accommodate your playstyle. To start off, players will be gifted a free marksman hero called Raidon, which you can use to climb the ranks and earn rewards. These rewards can either be cashed out, or reinvested into paid-heroes or loot boxes to boost your earning potential.

Like its mobile non-play-to-earn counterpart, Brawl Stars, Thetan Arena also contains various game modes, with each mode offering unique win conditions that call for different strategies. MOBA is a tried and tested formula that has a large crowd of (often vocal) supporters. If you enjoy a fast-paced, action-packed, skills-based challenge compared to the usual more mellow play-to-earn games, definitely give Thetan Arena a try.

9. Defi Kingdoms

Genre: GameFi
Ecosystem: Harmony 
Launch: Aug 2021
Token(s): JEWEL
Cost to start: -
Play this if: You like DeFi, or have been itching to try it out in a simple manner
Guide: How to Play DeFi Kingdoms and Earn JEWEL Tokens

A little tongue in cheek up there but the essence of it is true - you can think of Defi Kingdoms as an ecosystem of DeFi protocols cloaked in the skin of a 16-bit adventure game. As with other Defi protocols, the cost to start is essentially the amount you are willing to invest, and thus can vary hugely from individual to individual. 

But the real game begins when you land yourself a Hero from Agent Selina (i.e. secondary marketplace for Hero NFTs). These are characters that can work in multiple professions (i.e. miner, gardener, forager, fisher) for rewards, embark on Adventure and Profession quests, and eventually battle each other or other enemies in future updates. For instance, mining will earn your Hero Mining profession experience points, which should increase your loot as well as your stamina. There are also many other NPCs you can meet in-game, such as Merchant Matoya (ONE-JEWEL swap), Vendor Zaya (NFT item shop), Banker Ian (JEWEL staking), Druid Lisa (Hero minting) and more. 

If you have not used any DeFi protocols due to the steep learning curve, Defi Kingdoms might just be the perfect entry point for you. Even for DeFi veterans, DeFi Kingdoms is a gorgeous game that offers a unique gamification of what is usually a dull, mercenarial affair. 

10. Bomb Crypto

Genre: Idle Bomberman
Ecosystem: Binance Smart Chain
Launch: Sep 2021
Token(s): BCOIN
Cost to start: 10 BCOIN
Play this if: You like watching Bomberman, and earning at the same time

There’s no secret as to the inspiration behind this game. In Bomb Crypto, players assemble and manage a team of Bomber Heroes. Like classic Bomberman, these heroes can be placed in an enclosed arena where they will start randomly placing bombs to mine for BCOIN. Heroes have a set of attributes (power, speed, stamina, bomb number, bomb range) that will determine how efficient they are in unearthing treasures. For instance, a higher speed means that the hero will be able to run around in the arena faster. The general rule of thumb is the rarer the hero, the better the stats. 

Running around the arena depletes your hero’s stamina and once it reaches zero, you must rest your Hero to regenerate their stamina -  a process that can be sped up by building a house for your heroes to rest in.

Bomb Crypto quickly gained popularity for its simplicity, low cost-of-entry and not to mention the 90’s nostalgia in its Bomberman-inspired design.

And that’s it for the Top 10 NFT games to play in 2022.

Gone are the days when Axie Infinity had a monopoly over the play-to-earn category. Today, crypto games are diverse and innovative, with even high-budget AAA titles such as Illuvium and Aurory in the making. There are many games to be excited about in 2022, and definitely not enough to fit in just one article. For more NFT games, check out our follow-up article 10 Best NFT Games to Play in 2022 [Part 2]! Whether you’re a crypto native or not, these are games that you should definitely keep an eye out for and try out!

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Dillon Yap
Dillon Yap
Dillon is an Operations Associate at CoinGecko with a weakness for 3-digit APYs. As an ex-consultant, he now finds joy in laughing at consulting memes unironically.

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