What are NFT Games? (and the Top 10 P2E Crypto Games in 2022)

Top NFT Games 2023


Key Takeaways:

  • NFT games usually have play-to-earn features, with NFTs incorporated into the system. These may be earned, or purchased in-game or through secondary markets for NFTs.

  • You can use these NFTs to earn tokens which can be exchanges for fiat money through NFT marketplaces or auction houses.

  • Discover the Top 10 crypto games based on their token’s market cap.


NFT games are all the rage these days. But what does an “NFT game” actually entail? Let’s assume you already know what non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are. 

If so, you might think of NFT games as online games with a twist. They can be thought of as play-to-earn games, but defining it this way is myopic. We also risk ignoring some critical features and benefits NFT games can bring to gamers. 

So let’s go over what NFT games actually are, as well as how they work. Then we can review the Top 10 NFT games with massive future potential. Before signing off, I’ll also share  some thoughts on where the GameFi industry is headed.

Ready? Fight!

What are NFT Games?

NFT vs Traditional Games

Source: Alexander Cifuentes | Unsplash

What we call NFT games are simply video games with NFTs incorporated into the ecosystem. They introduce a layer of players having real skin in the game, thus raising the stakes. But not everyone loves them. Traditional gamers remain especially skeptical. 

And who can blame them?

The video game industry has been accused of gouging our wallets with unethical cash grab practices. There have been actual cases where fans felt they had been robbed of their hard-earned money, especially regarding paid features such as battle passes and loot boxes.

So can blockchain gaming offer an actual solution? Let’s unpack this question, and more, below. 

Why are Traditional Gamers so Skeptical of NFT Games?

Paying to gain an edge over other players has been a bane for gamers in the traditional gaming industry. Once someone buys a game, they expect to play it with no limitations. Instead, gaming studios “incentivized” them to purchase in-game assets with no actual value. Can the NFT market change that, and pull traditional gamers in?

How do NFT Games Work?

Are NFT Games the Future? How Do They Work?

Source: Lorenzo Herrera  | Unsplash

Here’s how NFT games generally work. Many of them work just like traditional games do. But some of them require you to make in-game purchases of NFTs before playing. Others let you purchase in-game NFTs as digital assets during gameplay. You can also win NFTs, and these NFTs can also be in-game purchases or bought on a secondary market for NFTs.

You can use these digital assets in the game to earn tokens, which can be used later to exchange for fiat money. To take profits, you’ll want to use an NFT marketplace like Opensea or put your NFTs up for auction at an NFT auction house. This, in essence, is how NFT games work.   

Top 10 Crypto Games

In this section, we review the Top 10 crypto games based on their token’s market cap, starting with a classic.

1. Axie Infinity

Axie Infinity NFT Game

Source: Axie Infinity

Axie Infinity put GameFi on the map during the last bull run. Axie’s meteoric rise took the world by storm. With a stunning artistic direction, each Axie works as a piece of art. 

But even more so, the game boasts some impressive figures. These include $3.6 billion traded in the marketplace, with 2.8 million active daily players. Nothing to scoff at.

You can engage in three modes of gameplay:

1. You can go on adventures and engage in PvE battles against Chimera. Winning your battle against a Chimera grants you variable rewards in the form of in-game NFTs. You can use these NFTs to upgrade your Axies.

2. You can engage in PvP battles with other users, pitting your Axies against their own. You can join tournaments, and whoever comes out on top has a chance to win real prizes!

3. You can breed your Axies to birth even more Axies with exciting new traits. You can keep these Axies and grow your set of collectible items, or sell them on the open market

Axie Infinity has also announced a land feature, which has yet to be released in full. But so far, this is what we know. You’ll be able to use your land to farm for resources and tokens. Staking for rewards is already live, and full land features are set to be released by end of year. 

Sure, the team has faced incredible challenges with the tokenomics of its SLP and AXS tokens. Still, the game is backed by recognizable powerhouses like Samsung, Google, and Ubisoft. I, for one, am curious to see where Axie Infinity will go from here.  

2. The Sandbox

The Sandbox NFT Game

Source: The Sandbox

The Sandbox is a metaverse experience like no other. It made waves during the 2021 bull run, with some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry like Snoop purchasing plots of land in the game. Other celebrity investors include the likes of Orlando Bloom and Justin Timberlake. (No small 🥔.) 

So how do you actually play? There are several ways to get involved, but essentially, the Sandbox is a builder’s game. If you have enough ETH to buy land, then you can host events there, or even rent it out for a fee. You can also gate your land and host events, and charge users to attend. 

On the other end, users without land can access plenty of events on other people’s property, for free. Some of them even offer users the opportunity to earn SAND

3. STEPN

STEPN NFT Game

Source: STEPN

STEPN has become a household brand in the crypto space. It’s been credited with introducing normies around the world to the GameFi scene. It’s also the first of several play-to-earn games to incorporate real-world utility via move-to-earn (M2E) gaming, and is available on Solana, Binance Smart Chain, and even Ethereum! 

It works like this:

You buy a shoe as an NFT. Then, you go on walks. The more you walk, the more you earn. Owning multiple shoes also grants you a multiplier effect, so you can earn more tokens. The allotted amount of daily energy is capped per shoe, so to increase that cap, you need more shoes.

You can also specialize and upgrade each shoe for a specific purpose. Your shoes have sockets where you can lock in digital items like gems to increase traits like luck. This is the gist of it anyway, enough to give you an idea of the gamification features. 

Recently, STEPN’s tokens, GMT and GST, have suffered considerable sell pressure. In turn, the team has struggled to boost its user base. Exiting users have complained that it’s going to take forever to recoup their money, many of whom had bought their shoes during the bull run.  

Will STEPN make a comeback? That remains to be seen. But let’s give credit where credit is due. The team continues building, boasts a healthy treasury as well as a runway, and only time will tell whether this project can deliver once the dust has settled. 

4. Gala Games

Spider Tanks Townstar NFT Games

Source: Gala Games

Gala Games isn’t a game in itself, but a notable crypto game launcher. The platform actually has several functioning games. However, they launch NFT sales prior to a game’s release, which can justifiably raise a skeptical brow or two. 

The two games you can play right now are Spider Tanks and Town Star, with many more still under development, like Mirandus, Battlestar Galactica, and The Walking Dead: Empires. 

Spider Tanks is a PvP brawler where players can buy tank and weapon NFTs and duke it out in one of the many arena maps. The game is free to play, but owning the NFTs gives you a considerable advantage.

Town Star is like many mobile games, and reminds me of Farmville. You start out with a plot of land and buy NFTs that you use to build your community. A healthy community generates more GALA tokens over time. (GALA tokens are used throughout the ecosystem.) That’s the idea, anyway. Like Sims, but with money.

Several other games are under development by Gala Games. They include a much-anticipated game based on the platform’s partnership with the creators of The Walking Dead. You can check out the list of games under development here

5. My Neighbor Alice

Neighbor Alice NFT Game

Source: My Neighbor Alice

My Neighbor Alice is an adorable game with a cute interface. The graphics and branding are reminiscent of certain Nintendo-style games à la Animal Crossing. When it comes to playability, the game plays like the Sandbox. 

In other words, users can have a complete free-to-play experience, without having to invest a single ALICE token. But once in a while, players are prompted to buy in-game items like land and other in-game assets, so that they can progress further faster. 

I have one issue with this approach. There is the risk of alienating traditional gamers who view these offerings as nothing more than cash grabs. Still, I can see the appeal for players who love Facebook and mobile games, and those who enjoy idle gaming as well. After all, it is a tried and tested approach.

6. Illuvium

Illuvium NFT Game

Source: Illuvium

Like many blockchain games, Illuvium isn’t officially out yet. It does have a beta, but it’s private, so you’ve got to register for access. The beta is currently limited to the training arena, but there is a little bit to unpack here. 

If you’re interested to try Illuvium, you can try to score one of CoinGecko x Illuvium’s exclusive private beta 2 access passes here.

The game is open world. You collect Illuvials, which you capture while exploring the world. You can also sell your Illuvials. There are two modes of gameplay:

1. You play the standard game. You explore, find stuff, battle AI, you know, all the stuff you get to do in any other open-world game. So what makes this game different? By playing and doing all that “normal game” stuff, you’re actually earning ILV tokens. You’re also eligible to win prizes.

2. You can play in the Leviathan Arena. This is a PvP battleground where you challenge other players. You can play against other users for free, or you can set a wager and see who comes out on top. 

Like many projects, Illuvium is backed by big names, like Delphi Capital, Immutable, and Quantstamp. But more than that, just watching the trailer should give you AAA game vibes. (You can check it out here.) Sure, the gameplay probably won’t be on that level. But it does go to show that the team has some amazing design experience under its belt. 

And yes, like many other games, there are land purchases happening on Illuvium too. Oh, did we mention that the game is integrated with Immutable X?

7. Valhalla (Floki Inu)

Floki Inu NFT Game

Source:Floki Inu

Have you heard of Floki Inu? If you haven’t, that’s quite all right. Because the FLOKI token is yet another meme coin featuring a dog, out of the hordes of other dog coins. 

But don’t be so fast to cross this one off your list just yet.

Floki’s been featured in some of the largest global publications. From CoinDesk to Entrepreneur Asia and Forbes, it’s dug its fangs in. Floki has also partnered with some major names as well. These include familiar faces like the blockchain oracle company Chainlink. But investors get as varied as boxer Tyson Fury and the formerly-Italian sports car brand Alfa Romeo. 

So what makes Floki different? The project has the ambitious aim of becoming the people’s cryptocurrency of choice. This mission involves creating an ecosystem that provides holders with real utility. 

And that’s where Valhalla comes in. 

Valhalla is a simple turn-based combat game. It’s totally free to play since it’s currently running on the Kovan Testnet. The Testnet is on Optimism, by the way, an Ethereum Layer 2 solution.

In the game, you can choose to play as 1 of 3 characters. As you gain experience, you can level up your character to increase their rarity. The entire game runs on the blockchain, which has its own tradeoffs. The big positive is that everything is verifiable.

The negative? Blockchains can lag, so they’re not ideal for gameplay, especially when networks get congested. Let’s see what the future holds as the gameplay mechanics become more complex and the ecosystem grows its user base.  

8. Alien Worlds

Alien Worlds is a bit of a strange one. Only because it’s the only game on the list that’s really a gamified finance game cloaked in game design. 

And you know what? That’s fine if it’s done well, and Alien Worlds has done just that. Even a cursory glance at the tokenomics snapshot below will have you nodding your head, going, “Oh yeah. They’ve definitely put a lot of thought into this.”

Alien Worlds NFT Game

Source: Alien Worlds

Alien Worlds describes itself as an NFT metaverse, where you stake Trilium (TLM) tokens in planets. In exchange, you receive voting rights for the Planetary elections. You also get to submit proposals, and a host of other things you can do in a DAO. But that’s just laying the foundations for the actual game: An NFT card game.

I don’t know about you, but I love a good card game. You can use these cards to mine, fight, and go on missions. The game, as well as the cards, are actually incredibly elaborate and well thought out. The cards don’t have the standard rarity traits like most other NFT projects. Instead, the game combines rarity with something it calls “shininess” (an additional trait). 

Like other games, you can purchase land (lol!). You also get to buy different tools, avatar cards, as well as weapon cards, minion cards, and others. You can win in-game “mission NFTs” by completing missions as well. 

Alien Worlds has its own cross-chain bridge, so you can comfortably bridge your tokens across Ethereum, Binance Smart Chain, and WAX chain (a dedicated chain for gaming). It also boasts one of the most active gaming metaverses in the world. No meaningless feat. 

9. Sweatcoin – Sweat Economy

SWEAT NFT Game

Source: Sweatcoin

Sweat Economy is an M2E game that was here before STEPN (way before), although it only recently started integrating blockchain tech and tokenomics. But here’s what makes it different from STEPN: You don’t need to buy any NFTs to actually start playing! In fact, the team has plans to introduce sweat NFTs in Q4 this year, but you can already start playing.

How? All you have to do is download the app, install the game’s wallet, and start walking to earn SWEAT tokens. You can also stake your tokens, a feature that isn’t available with STEPN. That way, you have some measure of control over the tokens being dumped on the market as soon as users receive them.

Sure, staking introduces a substantial inflationary measure over time. But the team plans to buy and burn those tokens or redistribute their revenue as staking yields. (Pretty smart.)

Revenue is to be accrued from other businesses that wish to gain access to the Sweat Economy’s vast network of users. A second revenue stream is from user transaction fees. As more products are released in the product suite, transaction fees will also be collected from services like fiat on-ramps and a dedicated decentralized exchange.  

Did I mention that it runs on NEAR protocol? 😏

10. Aavegotchi

Aavegotchi NFT Game

Source: Aavegotchi

Not gonna lie. This is my favorite game on the list. Maybe it’s got something to do with the fact that a Tamagotchi game seems to be an ideal fit for blockchain gaming. 

Even on Solana, where NFTs are thriving, there’s limited playability when it comes to games. Sure, there’s a ton of fun experimentation going on, especially with gamified staking. But Aavegotchi was at the helm of this stuff before anyone else was even thinking about it. 

And they got it right back then

The game runs on Ethereum, and uses the Aave protocol. To start playing, you need to buy GHST tokens. Afterward, you can get yourself an Aavegotchi. You can pick one up from the bazaar, where you have two options. You can can either purchase one directly via secondary sales, or you can get yourself a portal.

Portals can be open or closed. Closed portals are randomized, so you don’t know what you’re going to get. With open portals, you get to see 10 Aavegotchis inside the portal. But when you choose to access the portal, the 10 are randomized, and you end up with one final Aavegotchi. (The remaining 9 are burned.)

Source: Aavegotchi

Once you’ve got an Aavegotchi, you can treat them just like you would a Tamagotchi—but with a twist. The main aim of the game is to produce the rarest Aavegotchi you can. You can do so by upgrading its traits over time, something that’s come to be known as rarity farming.

At the end of each period, you’re eligible to receive your rewards in the form of GHST tokens. With greater rarity, you receive a greater share of the harvested GHST token rewards. 

There are several ways to increase rarity. You can increase your Aavegotchi’s rarity by petting them (thereby increasing kinship). You can also clothe them, feed them, and even rename them. In other words, you can make your Aavegotchi truly your own. 

You can also stake your GHST tokens in exchange for FREN tokens. FREN are non-purchasable tokens that can be used for raffles and drops. Aavegotchi also offers two types of mini-games: 

1. Community-run mini-games

2. Mini-games designed by the team (yet to be released)

The most anticipated release from the team is the Gotchiverse. It’s a pixelated metaverse where players will be able to roam freely, farming, fighting, and going on “Aadventures” with frens!    

Closing Thoughts

Source: Fredrick Tendong | Unsplash

We’ve come a long way since the hyped reports of users buying homes with their rewards from Axie Infinity. In hindsight, games such as STEPN and DeFi Kingdoms had poorly thought-out tokenomics.  

The primary motivation for players to join a game isn’t to earn money. It’s to have fun, to immerse yourself in another world, to be a hero. A game must first be fun to play, and if it makes sense after, it can incorporate NFT elements to raise the stakes. Long gone should be the days where we launch half-baked games with the promise of future playability. 

Can we really blame traditional gamers for being skeptical about NFTs? After all, the traditional video game industry has jaded them with blatant cash grabs. (Looking at you, EA.) Even smaller game developers loyal to their audiences have been sidelined. 

And out of nowhere, blockchain gaming rose from the ashes. So will it be the savior we didn’t want, but need? 

Sure, the potential to apply blockchain technology to video games is there. But we’ve now entered an experimental phase for a nascent industry. We should tread carefully and respect traditional gamers and heed their concerns.  

How implementation will succeed remains to be seen. Will 100% of games run on blockchain? Or is a hybrid solution ideal? Only time will tell. One thing’s for sure though: Blockchain gaming and the NFT market may still be in their experimental phase, but they’re not going anywhere. Not anytime soon.