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Why is Crypto Gaming Failing, and How to Fix It?

The mainstream opinion says that crypto will change gaming forever, and GameFi will bring a billion users to Web3. But the reality is harsher; still, there is no genuinely mainstream Web3 game where users come to play, not to make money, and stay for a while. Let’s break down why this is the case and how soon that will change.

Key takeaways:

You are probably familiar with the successful stories of Web3 games and the infographics showing their growth by one metric or another. There are two major problems with all of this: 

The most popular and successful Web3 game was once Axie Infinity , which at its peak in 2021 had 2.8 million daily players and generated more than $4 billion in transaction volume over the year. However, over the past month, the number of average daily users has not exceeded 25,000 . And in reality, that’s a decent number. By comparison, The Sandbox has less than 5k daily players, and even that data is questionable. In November 2022 we posted the research , mentioning that The Sandbox and Decentraland both have about 500 daily active users.

Such Play-2-Earn games are predominantly played by users from economically underdeveloped countries, who essentially view these games as a form of labor today. More than 40% of all Axie Infinity players were from the Philippines, for example. “Play to Earn” is literally the core incentive, and that became the first iteration of the bad design issue.

The current GameFi landscape is a bit different. On average there are more users than before. But there is no dominant project that overshadows everything else, as was the case with Axie Infinity or Stepn . Notably, a couple of games from 2021 are still here: one of them is Farmers World , which keeps up with almost 300K monthly active users.

The second iteration of the bad design issue revealed itself after the start of the airdrop meta in cryptocurrencies, which has not left GameFi untouched. We can witness the already problematic Play-to-Earn model degrade to the Play-to-Airdrop model, where games have an even shorter lifespan. Players no longer need to play a game for a long time in order to earn a regular income; now all they need to do is play until