CMC and Footprint Analytics delves into the performance of the nascent GameFi industry from January to July 2022 — and examine which chains, tokens and games to watch in H2 2022.
While crypto has been through several ups and downs over the past decade, GameFi as a new segment has only emerged since late-2020, and the first half of 2022 was the maiden bear cycle for the blockchain gaming industry.
The report delves into the performance of each chain in the gaming ecosystem. We further examine the top GameFi tokens and how they performed amidst the H1 2022 bear cycle — most protocols have seen a sharp drop in both price and users.
The critical question remains: how can developers enable people to play and earn rather than toil and yield? How can GameFi titles be built to be sustainable?
Even though the data shows that investors are bullish on GameFi — GameFi and metaverse projects had large influxes of VC funding relative to other categories in the blockchain industry — no single smart contract platform managed to fully capitalize and become the go-to “GameFi chain.”
At the end of this report, we highlight the chain that could take this spot and propose a few games to watch in H2 2022.
GameFi Overall Market Performance
Figure 1: BTC & S&P 500 Price Correlation Analysis
The Fear & Greed Index reached an extreme fear state, and GameFi active users, measured by the unique wallet addresses interacting with the protocol smart contracts for a certain period of time, gradually declined. Although the Fear And Greed Index has recovered from around 10 (Extreme Fear) in late June to now 42 (Fear), the crypto market is yet to react strongly with meaningful price actions.
Figure 2: BTC Price ($) vs. Fear and Greed Index
Figure 3: GameFi Market Cap vs. BTC Market Cap
Figure 4: Gaming Transactions by Chain
Figure 5: Market Share of Gamers
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Three Key Takeaways from H1 2022
Mainstream hype during the bull market has not been a good indicator of sustainability or future success.
Figure 6: Average Active Users by Game
A dominant, go-to chain for GameFi projects has yet to emerge. It's too early to predict long-term leaders.
WAX and Hive, the two largest GameFi chains by number of transactions, are still hugely reliant on the success of Alien Worlds and Splinterlands users, respectively, which comprise 54.55% and 99.85% percent of their total gamers. Neither chain was purpose-built for these titles like Ronin for Axie Infinity.
Figure 8: Market Share of Average Gamers - WAX
Figure 9: Market Share of Average Gamers - Hive
BNB is the third largest chain by gaming transactions and gamers, and no one title dominates its ecosystem. However its potentials still wait to be unlocked once it starts to host a standout game.
Figure 10: Market Share of Average Gamers - BNB
Developers are increasingly aiming to create multichain ecosystems.
Animoca Brands has said that its soon-to-be-launched AAA title, Phantom Galaxies, will be a multichain experience.
BNB and Ethereum are still the richest chains in the gaming ecosystem, with more than 582 and 538 projects on each, respectively.
Figure 12: Number of GameFi Protocols by Chain
BNB, which was originally the chain with the most new game projects per month, has had significantly fewer new games since the bear market started in May. Other chains have largely maintained a relatively steady stream of additions, with Polygon having the most relative growth, followed by WAX. Although there are many chains, it can still be seen that the gaming developers still prefer Polygon, WAX and BNB, which are more friendly to games with their low fees.
Figure 13: Chains by Number of New Projects
As for the number of active users in the top five chain ecosystems, WAX expanded to 370K by the end of July, but Hive experienced a significant decline in early June from 360K to 140K, due to the steep fall in active users on Splinterlands — the dominant game on the Hive blockchain.
Figure 14: Top 5 Chains by Gamers
Based on the share of each project on the chain, BNB has a relatively robust and diversified ecosystem. This is supported by the fact that the gaming volume for the top competing games on BNB each does not exceed 25% of the total volume. This is a more balanced setup compared to Ronin or Harmony, where the head projects hold 100% and 99.8% of total volume. Since GameFi is highly volatile, with even top titles collapsing into death spirals, diversification could make ecosystems more resilient in market downturns.
Figure 15: Market Share of Protocols by Chain
Figure 16: Gaming Volume by Chain
Figure 17: Gaming Volume by Protocol - BNB
Figure 18: Gaming Volume by Protocol - Ronin
Figure 19: Gaming Volume by Protocol - Harmony
When looking at the number of active projects, which Footprint Analytics’ data defines as having a minimum of 100 users active within the latest 5 days, there is a gradual decline across all chains. Although BNB Chain still has the highest number of active projects, it has seen a larger decline compared with Polygon.
Figure 20: Active Projects by Chain
Top GameFi Tokens To Watch
Although the bear market came in May, the GameFi market's mood has been uncertain since December 2021. Users have realized how the GameFi death spiral works, where a drop in either token price or players sets off a self-reinforcing downward cycle in both. As it stands, ”play-to-earn” only works with a sustainable supply of new players joining the game. Skepticism of many games' futures has prompted more users to mint and sell assets quickly.
Figure 21: Top 10 GameFi Tokens by Market Cap
Figure 22: Top 10 GameFi Tokens Price (rebased to 100)
Compared to 2021 bull market conditions, most projects have now lost liquidity.
Figure 24: Top GameFi Tokens Average Trade Volume
GameFi Fundraising Analysis
This year, VCs started to focus more on investments in Web3, especially GameFi and Metaverse, as seen in the changes below. Namely, GameFi and Metaverse take up a much larger share of the investment pie at the behest of Tooling, Trading and Lending/Borrowing. The investment by VCs into these two categories has increased from $874M in 2021 to $2.4B in 2022.
Figure 27: Investment Amount in 2021 and 2022 YoY
In terms of the deals funded, Epic Games received the most with $2 billion investments from Sony Group Corporation and KIRKBI in April 2022. In terms of the number of projects, Animoca Brands leads with 52 projects invested in one year covering GameFi, metaverse, guilds, and so on.
Figure 28: Top Invested Projects
Figure 29: Number of GameFi Projects by Investor
Investments in GameFi and Metaverse are still concentrated in the seed round, making up 48% of the total deals which signifies that the market is still in the early development phase.
Figure 30: GameFi Fundraising Round
Figure 31: Metaverse Fundraising Round
2022 Notable GameFi Fundraises Roadmap
Spotlight: H2 2022 - Games to Watch
"The unreleased AAA blockbuster"
What will matter in GameFi soon is whether the handful of highly-anticipated, expensive titles will live up to the hype.
The narrative in GameFi is that current games lack quality and have unsustainable tokenomics. However, once AAA games come out, these will bring GameFi to the masses after the bear market, solving much of the current problems.
These are slated to start going out in 2022 and 2023. The main ones to watch are:
- Phantom Galaxies
- Big Time
Illuvium the game itself is yet to be launched, however it has gathered great interest as it promises to be the first major AAA game and has a star team of blockchain and game developers behind it.
Phantom Galaxies, which is a joint project between Animoca Brands and Blowfish Studios, offers a taste of what will likely be the future of blockchain game development — collaboration between proven studios in traditional gaming and blockchain, with enormous resources to get projects off the ground.
Big Time is being developed by Big Time Studios, founded by Decentraland co-founder Ari Meilich. It promises gamers a true AAA RPG experience, plus an easier onramp with its own hosted wallets.
The teams behind these projects have a record of success in both blockchain and gaming, and the resources to potentially make a AAA title work.
Will they win over the regular gaming market? If they do, will the chains be able to handle the influx of users? Those betting big on Web3 and blockchain gaming should be holding their breath right now, hoping they perform as well as people expect.
Spotlight: H2 2022 - Chain to Watch
Combined with the development progress the Ethereum Foundation is making on the efficiency and scalability front, the chain could easily take a significant share of the GameFi market if it performs well, as the influx of chains was primarily driven by Ethereum’s congestion and high gas fees.
Both Illuvium and Big Time will run on Ethereum, and STEPN has already expanded to Ethereum. Depending on ETH's scaling solutions and how well it handles congestion, it may become the go-to chain for gaming. These developments will align to stress test Ethereum upgrades.
Figure 33: Ethereum July 31 Active Users by Project
Enjoyed reading the report? Download a copy of the CoinMarketCap and Footprint Analytics: 2022 GameFi Industry Report here.