From CryptoKitties to CryptoCrusades: The Evolution of Blockchain Gaming

Blockchain Gaming, the New Frontier of Video Game Tech

As developers, we are constantly discovering new ways to apply the blockchain’s unique technological features into our platforms. How to integrate digital currencies into a game, how to use assets that players actually own outside of our gaming platform, how to keep the game running smoothly and quickly, despite the blockchain’s security-laden processing times. We’ve come a long way, and from time to time, we at Merfolk Games like to consider how this gaming process has evolved. To do that, we look at what is generally accepted as the start of blockchain gaming: CryptoKitties.

What is CryptoKitties? Why is it important?

CryptoKitties was the first blockchain game to explode in popularity. It’s the digital version of a collecting hobby: like hoarding those 90s beanie babies, except it’s way cooler because it uses emerging technology that includes a built-in marketplace on the Ethereum network. In CryptoKitties, players collect unique looking cats. Each cat is a Non-fungible Token (NFT) that is hard coded on the Ethereum blockchain.

While each CryptoKitty is visibly unique, so too is their code. A player owns this code, which is validated through the blockchain. Based on a cat’s unique traits, which can be customized through breeding, the value of certain cats can appreciate or depreciate on the market. Think customizable Beanie Babies where players decide which traits are valuable, but the whole set-up comes with a unique, secure digital trading platform on the Ethereum network. 

CryptoKitties became so popular in 2017 that it actually congested the Ethereum trading network with transactions at an all time high. Some Kitties even sold for as high as $100,000, thus vaulting this previously obscure form of gaming into the public sphere. 

Building on the success of CryptoKitties

CryptoKitties proved that blockchain gaming has a market and provided a clear example of how to apply blockchain tech to gaming. As a result, game developers began to explore the boundaries of what the CryptoKitties model could do for their own games.

This brings us to games like MegaCryptopolis and Decentraland. If something like a collectible CryptoKitty could have a tangible value, these two games established that space on the blockchain can also have value. This brings to mind the idea of the Land Sale. Each of those games has plots of land that are tied to code on the blockchain. Players interested in the game can purchase this land with crypto. The land then has a unique location in the game that provides certain benefits.

While this model is not necessarily accessible to the average player, it does provide a space for game enthusiasts and investors to stake out a portion of the game. Should the game become popular, that land becomes valuable and can be sold for a high price. Overall, the land is another version of a collectible, but with added in-game functionality.

Adding Functionality to Collectibles

Collectibles with limited functionality are great for hobbyists, but how do we expand the CryptoKitties tech to other forms of gameplay? That’s where games like Axie Infinity and 0xWarriors come in. These two games take a page from the autochess playbook: create unique characters for players to collect, give them stats and abilities, and then allow them to fight in head-to-head matches. If you’re going to spend money on a cool crypto collectible, why not have them battle?

Hopping on the battling-collectible movement is Gods Unchained, a Hearthstone-esque illustrated card game where the cards themselves are NFTs. As NFTs, players own their cards and store them in their wallet. It’s a lot like that old Magic: The Gathering card deck stashed away in your closet, but with blockchain tech, it’s secured in the vault of your crypto wallet.

Let’s Add Medieval Strategy!

CryptoCrusades makes use of the ideas that came before it: collectible NFTs from CryptoKitties, the value of land from Decentraland, and battling from games like Axie Infinity. Of course, these ideas will be applied differently in our game to suit our game mechanics. 

As game developers, we’re looking to take what we’ve learned about blockchain technology and apply it to a classic style of game. In the way that Gods Unchained found a use for blockchain tech in a classic card game, we’re taking blockchain tech and applying it to tiled, empire-building games. Games like Civilization once did this in the first wave of PC gaming, and now we’re building the grand strategy game into the blockchain for mobile devices.

Why shouldn’t your empire be secure? Why shouldn’t your heroes and the historical relics have real monetary value? By integrating Ethereum, a digital currency, into our game, we can create a robust trading experience to the empire-building strategy game, and maybe along the way, players can earn some crypto from their pocket.

If you’re interested in the game, please send us your questions and sign-up for the beta on our website!

John Constantine Tobin

Narrative Designer
Merfolk Games