The next big evolution of video gaming is the “metaverse” - an immersive virtual world powered by blockchain, non-fungible tokens, artificial intelligence, and augmented reality, among other things.
Mainstream players and deep-pocketed investors are opening up to the idea of the metaverse, especially as popular blockchain games like Axie Infinity, Gods Unchained, Splinterlands, and many others disrupted the traditional gaming model. These games introduced the concept of true in-game asset ownership and monetization, positioning themselves as the biggest contributors to the expanding blockchain industry.
The second wave of blockchain games took the concept of in-game NFTs even further by introducing the concept of GameFi, the merging of gaming and DeFi (decentralized finance). With this, blockchain games like Decentraland and Sandbox started offering players graphic-rich and immersive virtual experiences, thus unlocking the door to the metaverse.
Be it console gaming giants like Atari and Sony or big tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, everyone, these days, is interested in the metaverse.
But what exactly is the metaverse?
Simply put, the metaverse is a three-dimensional virtual universe where players can build their avatars, purchase and sell virtual properties, play games, travel, meet, work, chat, and much more. For instance, you may use a VR headset to experience a fully-immersive driving session in a virtual world alongside digital avatars of other players within the same metaverse.
The relationship between blockchain technology, gaming, and the metaverse makes sense. The gaming industry has always been at the forefront of adopting new technology. At the same time, the vision of the metaverse is dependent mainly on virtual environments common in games that offer decentralized asset ownership.
Additionally, all blockchain games offer in-game NFTs, which can be traded, bought, and sold across secondary marketplaces. In a way, the metaverse will consist of several interoperable virtual worlds. This means that both the play-to-earn model and NFTs offered by blockchain games will also play a crucial role within the metaverse in one way or another.
To the Metaverse and Beyond
Currently, the blockchain gaming ecosystem mostly consists of card, RPG, MMO, and strategy games. However, in recent months, game developers have introduced more graphic-heavy and complicated game mechanics, enhancing the experience for the gaming community.
SYN City is one such upcoming blockchain game that introduces the legendary mafia-themed gameplay on the blockchain. This free-to-play, play-to-earn blockchain game offers tokenized in-game assets. With each item being an NFT, players can trade, buy, and sell them in secondary marketplaces that are a part of the metaverse, allowing them to generate revenue.
The SYN City metaverse offers a fully-immersive experience for players, including the ability to customize crews and characters, resource management, and strategize attack plans and gameplay. Powered by its native $SYN token, the game also introduces the concept of MaaD (Mafia-as-a-DAO) to automate decision-making and transactions. Additionally, players can earn $SYN tokens by participating in daily events, syndicate rewards, governance rewards, and other programs.
SYN City is led by Justin Kan (Co-founder, Twitch) and Robin Chan (Co-founder, Zynga China & Goat Capital). The blockchain game, backed by prominent investors, recently hosted its IGO (Initial Game Offering) on Binance, collecting over $3.5 million within thirty minutes of launch. Right now, the game tops Binance NFT’s collection list, with over 200,000 subscribers.
Then there is Bit.Country, Polkadot’s metaverse network, which takes the idea of the metaverse to a whole new level. This decentralized platform enables users to build their own metaverses and implement crypto games, NFTs, trading, and other dApp-based programs.
Designed to simplify (and monetize) community engagement on Web3, Bit.Country allows anyone to create their metaverse with personalized tokenomics, backed by the platform’s native $NUUM token, the built-in marketplace, and the DAO (decentralized autonomous organization). The unique concept behind Bit.Country has attracted investors and gamers alike, raising more than $100 million (at the time of the auction) worth of Kusama (KSM) tokens to secure a slot in the ongoing parachain slot auctions.
Finally, we have RMRK, an NFT protocol that offers cross-chain NFT infrastructure for blockchain games and the metaverse. Launched in August 2020 by Bruno Škvorc, RMRK runs on Polkadot’s canary network, Kusama. The platform allows users to build NFT systems of arbitrary complexity by putting together the five “NFT Lego” blocks it offers.
As mentioned earlier, the metaverse will consist of individual virtual worlds deployed across different blockchain networks. To help users travel freely across different worlds, the ecosystem demands interoperability, representing the ability to exchange information directly between networks. RMRK solves the problem through its cross-chain NFTs, thus bridging the gap between individual worlds within the metaverse.
The pace at which NFTs are becoming an integral part of blockchain games, paired with the growing demand for immersive gaming experiences alongside play-to-earn models, is accelerating the merging of blockchain technology with the traditional gaming industry. At this rate, an increasing number of games will ultimately move into the metaverse in one way or another.
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