The blockchain-based video game industry grew steadily over the course of 2020, according to a new report from DappRadar in association with the Blockchain Gaming Alliance, with increases in overall daily users and a significant leap in the amount of activity around gaming non-fungible token ( ) collectibles.
Daily activity across all crypto games grew 35% from the start to the end of 2020, the report details, finishing the year with just less than 28,000 daily active users. The total trading value grew even more significantly at a rate of 191%, ending the year at $173,500 per day on average in December.
The amount of growth varied widely by game, however, and DappRadar suggests that the level of growth seems modest when compared to the explosive rise of decentralized finance ( ).
“Certainly, there was growth. But compared to the DeFi category, which was the catalyst for the entire crypto sector—ending the year with $15 billion of locked value—growth was patchy and driven more by the dynamics of individual products rather than experienced across the sector,” the report reads.
Axie Infinity, the Ethereum-based virtual pet game that draws inspiration from Pokémon and Tamagotchi, experienced the largest surge in daily activity at 810%. EOS-driven virtual real estate game Upland is next on the list at 516%. Splinterlands finished the year with the most daily active users around 6,000, but saw more modest growth of 53% from the start of 2020.
The report notes that the competitive card-battler saw most of its growth after switching from the Steem blockchain to Hive on June 1.
Meanwhile, games like My Crypto Heroes, Prospectors, and Crypto Dynasty—which started 2020 with nearly the same amount of daily users as Splinterlands—all declined over the course of the year, with My Crypto Heroes losing 97% of its audience.
DappRadar cites DeFi-driven rising gas fees as a main reason for the decline in Ethereum gaming in 2020. Ultimately, EOS commanded the highest percentage of crypto game activity at 35%.
While the games themselves grew in both daily activity and trading value, marketplaces that sell crypto games’ unique NFT collectibles saw dramatically larger growth. According to the report, NFT marketplaces saw 226% growth in daily active users to finish the year at around 3,400, while trading volume grew 785% to total $78 million.
Axie Infinity has been one of the key beneficiaries of interest around its rare NFT creatures, with some selling for more than $100,000 each.
Last year, Decrypt profiled rising interest in The Sandbox’s in-game LAND parcels. One such leading LAND owner, WhaleShark, commands a large portfolio of gaming and art NFTs, and even created the $WHALE “social currency” token built around his vault of digital assets.