A Guide to Gaming and Esports Cryptocurrencies

Jeremy Ray
Games
Games

The blockchain is set to change the world, and we’re still in the early days of figuring out how we can apply it to business and entertainment. At the same time, we should be wary of projects just attaching the word “blockchain” to something that could be solved with a database.

It didn’t take long for many cryptocurrency projects to enter the gaming space. Solutions are being offered across game purchasing, gambling, virtual item management and the rare outside-the-box idea. It’s a field that won’t be mainstream until it’s far easier to get involved, but these projects are already starting to integrate with popular development engines like Unity.

So how does this technology stand to help us? What benefits can an immutable, decentralised ledger bring to the gaming space?

This is not an investment guide. We don’t seek to make value judgements or predictions. This is a list of which cryptocurrencies are entering the market and what their aims are. Any potential investors should, as always, do their own research and determine whether these projects are solving the problems they claim to solve.

Many of these projects are aiming to provide a marketplace to buy games, and quote percentages that game developers will be rewarded with. For reference, the industry standard that developers get for sales on marketplaces like Steam and the App Store is 70%.

Unless otherwise specified, all these are decentralised, mined tokens based on the Ethereum blockchain.


GameCredits (GAME)

  • Game marketplaces
  • Online tournament betting

Like many tokens in the gaming space, GameCredits is prone to wild claims like being the universal currency for “2.6 billion gamers worldwide.” Absurd bluster aside, it aims to provide a wide variety of ambitious services, such as a game making engine with easily added payment options using GameCredits, and gaming marketplaces that give developers 90% of the revenue.

Up until the final days of the recent crypto crash, GameCredits was in CoinMarketCap‘s top 100 cryptos for market capitalisation. That makes it easily the biggest of the bunch.

It already has a stable of wallets on multiple desktop platforms. It also plans to set up an exchange to swap GameCredits for other cryptos or fiat currencies, as well a charity called GShare.

While starting an entirely new engine (and competing with developer favourites like Unity and Unreal) seems far-fetched, much more promising is the recent announcement of a Unity partnership. While initially this only includes the ability to publish games on GPlay — the GameCredits marketplace — in the future this could mean plugins that easily bring blockchain solutions to the Unity interface.

It’s impossible to tell where they’ll take this, but integrations with established game engines will be by far the quickest way to blockchain technology adoption in games.

Unikoin Silver (UKS) and Gold (UKG)

  • Esports betting
  • Just 10% kept by company

While the older Unikoin Silver functioned as a fake, just-for-fun “Monopoly money” to use in Unikrn’s esports betting platform, the newer Unikoin Gold is a cryptocurrency with real world value. Both versions will be used to bet on esports matches, as well as bet on yourself in skill-based challenges.

The dual nature of these coins allows Unikrn to offer similar services across different regions, according to varying regulations on gambling. If you can’t legally partake in its fiat or UKG betting, you’ll still be able to bet Unikoin Silver.

The project gained a fair bit of press when investor Mark Cuban and Ashton Kutcher backed the coin. Partnerships with Tabcorp and the Esports Integrity Coalition signal a desire to combat issues like money laundering, problem gambling, underage gambling, match fixing, hacking, DDOS or other kinds of unfair play.

Similar to Skincoin below, Unikoin now allows you to trade your Steam skins for UKG. It also lets you earn up to three UKG per day by playing DOTA 2, League of Legends or CSGO.

Enjin (ENJ)

  • Focused on virtual item creation and attribution

Enjin lets you create your own custom currency for your community or game, effectively creating a token based on a token based on Ethereum. You can use this to incentivise behaviours in your community (or if you absolutely must use the word “gamification,” so be it), or program virtual items to abide by smart contract parameters that you set.

Properties like being “Soulbound” in World of Warcraft could be programmed into an item, even though the game developer has no control over the item after the player takes ownership.

This could result in easier virtual item trading, easier recognition/reward for item creation, and streamlined ownership of items across games. One could even make a game that recognises ownership of items from previous games, without being connected to the same database.

According to its whitepaper, 7.5 virtual items are lost to fraud for every one that is sold. Of course, not all virtual items are created equally. Enjin claims its blockchain solution will cut down on fraud and lost value, but remember, these security systems are only as good as their weakest link — which is usually the human at the end of it.

It’s currently on several big exchanges and has an Ethereum co-founder on its team. We’ll see more of Enjin Coin with a big booth at the upcoming Game Developer’s Conference in March.

Skincoin (SKIN)

  • Trade skins in games like DOTA 2, Team Fortress 2 and CSGO for cryptocurrency

The primary sales pitch here is that you can sync your Skincoin account with your Steam account and trade away your in-game skins for a cryptocurrency. If you’re not using that AWP or knife skin in CSGO and don’t plan to, you might as well get some real-world value for it.

With this in mind, Skincoin is approaching other businesses in the hopes they’ll recognise SKIN as many gamers’ first foray into forex, via crypto. The goal is for more businesses to accept SKIN as payment, though at least for the early days, many gamers might opt to trade their SKIN for Bitcoin or Ether on the supported exchanges.

It should be noted that a large section of the whitepaper is dedicated to how to get around gambling legislation. While betting skins is illegal in the US, betting virtual coins that represent skins isn’t.

This kind of “funny money” betting is similar to some of the loopholes publishers are using to fly under the regulation radar with loot boxes. It’s highly likely that this strategy has an expiration date as regulators catch on to the idea of virtual proxy gambling.

Skrilla (SKR)

  • Fantasy esports betting
  • Competitions every day

Based in Australia and aiming to expand internationally, Skrilla is a collaboration between the folks behind Puntaa and Dot Esports. This one is all about fantasy esports. Every day, the platform runs a fantasy tournament in which you strategically pick esports competitors and win or lose depending on their performances.

For larger, real-world events, Skrilla will run fantasy tournaments that stretch over multiple days. You can browse matchups in its lobby and put up the entry fee. Winner takes all.

The actual Skrilla token is still in beta, so currently this platform acts as a betting service using Australian dollars.

FirstBlood (1ST)

  • Gambling platform for you to bet on yourself

FirstBlood is a little light on information about how the system works, until you actually jump in.

This is a competitive gaming platform that allows DOTA 2 or PUBG players (more games coming soon) to bet money on their own performances. You can set wagers beforehand and join the matchmaking queue as a team or solo. There are also tournaments and ladders for you to climb, as FirstBlood records all of your wins and losses and rewards you accordingly.

Disputes over cheating or other technical problems will be handled by a voting jury, and participants in this process will be rewarded with more of the token.

Robot Cache (IRON)

  • Decentralised marketplace for PC games
  • Allows players to resell games

Perhaps the biggest point of differentiation with Robot Cache is that once a player is done with a game, it allows them to resell it to whomever they want, and the developer will get a 70% cut of the sale.

For first-time sales of “new” digital games, Robot Cache will only take a cut of 5%.

Developers get the best deal here. It’s no skin off a developer’s nose to make a PC game available on another platform. If they get 95% of every sale and 70% of every resale, even better.

For players, it’s a little less clear-cut. Assuming the early adopters on a platform like this will mostly be indies, that means players reselling a $20 will recoup $6. It’s not nothing — and perhaps the small cut going to Robot Cache will allow developers to offer games at a lower price in the first place.

NEVERDIE and Teleport (TPT)

  • Made for virtual reality
  • Currently attached to its own games

A duo of tokens, these two are aiming to be the currency of VR worlds that blur the line between virtual and real-world economies. The first game to feature them is AmeVRica, which in its own words:

AmeVRica will be the first cross platform, decentralised, open source, blockchain governed, MMORPG/virtual reality hybrid world with a cryptocurrency based hunter/gatherer economic system.

It’s being run by the “President of Virtual Reality” Jon Jacobs, who was the first person to make a million dollars inside a virtual world. Richard “Lord British” Garriot is also advising on the project.

There are a few honourable goals here, such as making the worlds entirely governed by blockchain democracy. But the popularity and value of these tokens are not just dependent on the popularity of the game, but the tweaking of this in-game economy.

Players will gather resources and pay to have them transported. With Richard Garriot involved, you can bet there will be some sort of PvP involved as well. But will the game be fun enough for people to repeatedly swing that mining axe?

You can find out more about NEVERDIE here and Teleport here.

Dmarket (DMT)

  • Connecting in-game items with real-world value

This token is also aiming to attach a real-world value to virtual items. It claims to be able to connect different games and trade items between them, though it’s unclear what it means by this. Certainly you can’t load up a CSGO skin in Overwatch.

Much like Enjin, Dmarket can allow creators to put their virtual items onto the marketplace and be compensated for it (provided it’s actually supported by the game). Further resales of this virtual item can pay royalties to the original creator.

Much of Dmarket’s sales pitch is focused on in-game items. Creating items, selling items, reselling items. It also wants wholesalers to pay tokens for analytics. The founder of successful esports team Na’Vi and a senior developer of DASH is among the core team.

HEROcoin (PLAY)

  • Decentralised online esports betting
  • Made for use with herosphere.gg

Are you ready for another esports betting crypto? Because this is another esports betting crypto.

HEROcoin spawned out of the betting site herosphere.gg, which will be the home of this platform. Its goal is to create both active and passive income streams. Unless of course you lose bets, in which case you have a negative income stream.

Every winning pot will be divided up between a few parties. The majority will go to the winner of the bet, a small portion will be given to the creator of the game and the rest will be given to PLAY token holders as a kind of dividend. This will encourage people to store their value in PLAY as well as create games.

NAGAcoin (NGC)

  • Original coin, not based on Ethereum and not minable
  • Centralised marketplace for virtual goods

NAGAcoin doesn’t exclusively target gamers. Its main goals are education about financial markets (likely so you’ll trade more through its platform) and bringing crypto value into the real world with a Naga debit card.

Its gaming connection is through its Switex tool, which is another attempt at assigning real-world value to virtual items. It uses gaming items as an example, but it could apply to anything.

This project is connected to a German stock exchange, hence the centralised structure. The exchange claims this will result in more security, which isn’t necessarily true — but being a publicly traded company comes with a good deal more regulation and accountability.


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Jeremy Ray
Managing Editor at FANDOM. Decade-long games critic and esports aficionado. Started in competitive Counter-Strike, then moved into broadcast, online, print and interpretative pantomime. You merely adopted the lag. I was born in it.
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