Recently, Facebook changed its name to “Meta” to reflect its growing interest and investments in the metaverse space.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has mentioned that Meta refers to “beyond” and in this context, it symbolises moving beyond the limitations and constraints of the current universe.
He also stated that the Metaverse would allow greater connectivity between individuals, transcending Zoom calls, and is the next phase of human connectivity. As Zuckerberg pointed out, gaming will play an integral part in building the Metaverse as it is the biggest entertainment industry by far.
Since the announcement by Meta, investors and institutions alike have been on the look out for the next big metaverse play.
Here are the top 5 crypto metaverse plays to look out for:
1. Axie Infinity ($AXS)
Axie Infinity is a Pokémon-inspired universe where anyone can earn tokens through skilled gameplay and contributions to the ecosystem.
Players can battle, collect, raise, and build a land-based kingdom for their pets. It is the first successful play to earn business model game that has become a mainstream crypto game.
AXS or Axie infinity shard is its governance token, while SLP or Smooth Love Potion, is the in-game currency made from playing and used for breeding new Axies.
Axie Infinity has a current daily active user count of between 1.5 million to 2 million, and this number continues to rise with more updates being rolled out for the game.
With AXS staking released at the end of Q3 2021, the game still has a lot of potential for growth with its upcoming Land Gameplay Community Alpha.
2. Decentraland ($MANA)
Decentraland ($MANA) is a decentralized 3D virtual reality platform powered by the Ethereum blockchain where users can create virtual structures such as casinos, art galleries, concert halls and theme parks, and charge other players to visit them.
The platform contains 90,000 parcels of land which are unique NFTs on the Ethereum Blockchain. Each plot of land is 16m by 16m, and the floor price is currently at 3.6 Ethereum or around US$15,000.
Decentraland was created in 2015 and has been open to the public since February 2020. It is currently running on the Layer 2 scaling solution Polygon.
The game does not have a roadmap, as since its public launch in February 2020, it has become a community driven decentralised autonomous organization (DAO), whereby the community votes to implement changes.
Metaverse Group, a subsidiary of Tokens.com, finished purchasing a plot of land for 600,000 MANA or about US$2.4 million. The purchase price was more than double the previous record-high sale for virtual real estate.
While it was mentioned that in the game you are able to play mini-games, gamble in an online casino and visit NFT galleries, my personal opinion was that the server was laggy and did not allow for a smooth playing experience when I tried it out.
3. Sandbox ($SAND)
The Sandbox is a play-to-earn blockchain game that allows players to build a virtual world using non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on the Ethereum blockchain.
Players can design their own avatars to access the different games, environments, and hubs on The Sandbox metaverse. The game can be viewed as a DeFi version of Minecraft on the blockchain.
The Sandbox empowers creators by giving them tools such as Voxedit to animate and create pixelised NFTs to be sold on the marketplace, and Gamemaker, which allows users to create a their own unique 3D game in the space.
The game is on the Ethereum Layer 2 scaling solution Polygon. There are a total of 166,000 plots of land and one land square is 93m by 93m.
The floor price of land is at 2290 SAND on Opensea or about US$16,000. The game has been in development since 2018 and has had its community alpha launch on November 29.
The Sandbox also has partnerships with Binance, Coinmarketcap, Snoop Dog, Atari, South China Morning post and more.
A unique aspect of Sandbox is that you are able to improve the Assets (Voxel models created by players) with Gems and Catalysts.
Gems give attributes to Assets while catalysts allow users to associate a number of gems to the asset. This gives the game an additional layer of polish unlike other equivalent games.
The Sandbox has an updated roadmap, shows a clear direction for the project. Furthermore, Softbank’s recent US$93 Million Series B investment, and Addias’s partnership with The Sandbox has contributed to the SAND token’s recent new all-time highs.
4. Illuvium ($ILV)
Illuvium is an upcoming AAA-rated blockchain game that takes place in an open-world, RPG setting.
Players collect creatures called Illuvials, each with a class and affinity. There are five classes (Fighter, Guardian, Rogue, Psion and Empath) and five affinities (Water, Fire, Earth, Air and Nature) that have their various strengths and weaknesses.
As you win battles against other players and complete quests, your Illuvials become more powerful.
Illuvium uses an auto-chess game system whereby Illuival teams auto-battle each other for the last one standing. The game uses Immutable X as the layer 2 scaling solution in order to reduce Ethereum gas fees and will be built on Unreal Engine 4.2.
Players use shards, which can be mined, to catch Illuvials. Shards have a variety of tiers which would be used to catch rarer Illuvials. There are currently more than 100 Illuvials available to be caught. Players are also able to participate in battles with their character and purchase weapons and armor used for combat.
Illuvium is slated to release its public beta in the first quarter of 2022.
5. Star Atlas ($ATLAS)
Star Atlas is a next-generation gaming metaverse emerging from the convergence of state of the art blockchain, real-time graphics, multiplayer video game, and decentralized financial technologies.
It boasts of real-time graphics technology, and uses Unreal Engine 5’s Nanite, which allows for cinema-quality video game visuals. It uses the Solana protocol, and has managed to establish a largely serverless and secured gameplay experience.
The NFTs obtained and traded within Star Atlas creates an economy that replicates the tangibility of real world assets and ownership.
There are three fractions to choose from — the Alien, Human or Android. Star Atlas uses two different tokens, $ATLAS which is used for purchasing and selling in game assets in the market place, and $POLIS which is the governance token used for voting in the DAO.
There are multiple roles that players can take up in the game:
- Extractors: Mine raw materials
- Refiners: Collect raw materials and convert them into usable tools
- Managers: Ensure that resources are used efficiently in order to create value and utility
- Builders: Experiment and produce new and innovative goods to sustain and improve technology
- Explorers: Discover new opportunities to mine new resources
- Fighters: Earn ATLAS from salvaging fallen opponents via winning matches
Star Atlas is currently at Phase 1 of its five-phase roadmap. The upcoming Phase 2 would introduce a browser mini game which would allow the game to be playable. Phase 5 is the full release of the game.
We are still in the first year of play-to-earn crypto games, as Axie Infinity has only been popularized this year.
Crypto metaverse games would require more AAA developers to come on board before being able to compete with their mainstream counter parts.
In addition, there are risks involved investing in unreleased games as it is unknown if public would react well or poorly to the game’s official launch.
Nonetheless, it is exciting to see how the space would grow and develop in the coming years.
Featured Image Credit: Cointribune