Similar to bitcoin and blockchain (and plenty of other technological innovations), NFTs have had a tough time getting started. This difficulty stems from the fact that they’re poorly understood by the general population and sat at the center of more than a few controversies – again, just like cryptocurrency has been over its one decade of existence. Could a breakthrough be just around the corner, though?
NFTs will likely gain a foothold in the gaming industry first. The Paddy Power Games website has taken a step towards this future by incorporating the slot title NFT Megaways into its repertoire of casino experiences. Created by Red Tiger Gaming, NFT Megaways is a celebration of all the elements common to NFTs, such as pixel art, cryptocurrency, and off-the-wall characters.
The game doesn’t actually include any NFTs – or non-fungible tokens – of its own, offering standard slots gameplay, but its presence on a casino site does hint at a growing appreciation for NFTs or, at least, a greater understanding of what they are. However, NFT Megaways does take its cues from a rather niche area of pop culture – memes and everything crypto – so it is pretty unique against the other more well-known genres available.
For appreciators of Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, and Dogecoin, it’s one of the rarer oases for cryptobros in casino gaming – and may, in fact, be the only one out there. NFT Megaways includes nods to enigmatic billionaire Elon Musk, via the Tesla Cybertruck, and the Shiba Inu Kabosu, otherwise known as Doge. Of course, it also includes the unique NFT Megaways characters, the Crypto Punks.
NFT Megaways does not feel like a harbinger of a meme-worthy future, though. For one, as tradable, virtual property, NFTs are unlikely to ever become a household name. Research from the analytics firm Nansen indicates that, of 19m NFTs in 8,400 projects, two-thirds failed by earning less money than it took to create them in the first place or expiring before they could be sold.
Oddly enough, the seemingly inevitable end of NFT projects doesn’t mean a great deal yet. Let’s not forget that plenty of cryptocurrencies collapsed in 2018 as a craze of frantic creation left many of them with no value at all. As with any industry, trends have a way of consuming themselves in the end. Just look at how clothing fashions and pop culture genres go in and out of style as the years pass, as represented in this Vogue article.
As mentioned, NFTs already represent a new direction in video gaming according to The Game of Nerds, as developers seek to create a “play to earn” model based on a real-life economy. To use the example of Axie Infinity, players collect unique NFT creatures and battle them with other people’s Axies. To earn money, a start-up cost must be paid, after which, payments in the Ethereum token can be earned just by participating in the game.
A Barrier to Entry
Therein lies one of the problems with NFTs, one that is guaranteed to limit their audience – cost creates a barrier to entry. Axie Infinity has attempted to get around this problem by offering a free-to-play version that, in theory, will introduce players to the NFT concept and lead them towards a more premium way of playing. Unfortunately, this version effectively removes the play-to-earn aspect of Axie Infinity, defeating the entire point of the game.
NFTs are in a difficult position due to carelessness in their use – and it will be difficult to reassure the wider world that they have any true value, either as a plaything or an investment. However, the presence of related media such as Red Tiger’s NFT Megaways might be seen as a step towards the adoption of this unique blockchain technology.