The crypto industry went through a beating in the second half of 2022. Centralized exchanges, bridges, and even once ‘Crypto Twitter darlings’ were all the subject of fear, uncertainty, and doubt. The NFT industry was not spared this crypto winter with top collections such as Bored Ape Yacht Club closing at a 69 ETH floor price at the end of 2022 despite highs of around 159 ETH in the final week of April 2022.
However, gaming tokens and NFTs associated with projects do not necessarily fall into the same category as profile picture NFTs. In today’s State of the GameFi industry report, we dive into the changes in both token and NFT prices of top collections relative to both macroeconomic and industry changes.
GameFi in Early to Mid 2022
Calendar year 2022 saw all-time high NFT sales that sparked euphoria in the market when the data was released. This came at a time when profile picture collections such as Azuki rose to prominence and Yuga Labs launched its own Otherdeed for Otherside collection. Collectively, sales volume on OpenSea tallied around $16.76 billion in the first half of 2022. Sales then dipped 73.22% in June 2022 from May.
The dip in transaction volume in the middle of the 2022 can be attributed to Terra’s collapse and a bearish looking macroeconomic environment evidenced by rising cost of goods. In May 2022, Terra’s crash wiped out around $400 million in crypto market capitalization according to Time.
Meanwhile, on a macroeconomic level, the US Federal Reserve started increasing interest rates in March 2022 to curb inflation at an initial 25 basis points before increasing interest rates to 75 basis points in June.
The dip in profile-picture NFTs’ trading volume is consistent with the movement of GameFi tokens’ trading volume. For example, according to data from BlockchainSpace, most of the top GameFi tokens took a beating thanks to Terra’s collapse in May 2022.
By the end of July 2022, GameFi tokens’ total market capitalization also decreased by around 81% relative to its peak on November 26, 2021. Whereas Axie Infinity commanded 31.1% of the market with both its AXS and SLP tokens, the Ronin Bridge hack on March 29, 2022 for around $540 million as well as the emergence of newer games such as STEPN caused Axie’s share of the pie drop to around 21.64% in the middle of 2022.
BlockchainSpace tracks 331 tokens across 319 games where peak GameFi daily transaction volume was recorded on October 31, 2021 tallying more than $2.23 billion. However, mid-2022 saw decreases in transaction volume with the decline in Decentraland’s transaction volume standing out.
Weathering H2 2022’s Winter
The Macro Environment
The effects of Terra’s collapse reverberated throughout the industry in the second half of 2022. While many other companies filed for bankruptcy during crypto winter, none had a larger effect than FTX’s bankruptcy. According to CNBC, the crypto exchange was one of the largest exchanges next to Binance valued at $32 billion in January 2022. Data from CNBC revealed FTX owes its top three creditors upwards of $3 billion.
In the second half of 2022, the US Federal Reserve also continued several 75 basis point interest rate hikes before reducing the hike to 50 basis points in December. By the end of 2022, BTC closed at around $16,540–76% down from the all-time high price of $69,000.
Token Prices and Market Capitalization
The general fear, uncertainty, and doubt experienced in the market took a toll on GameFi tokens in the second half of 2022. Still, consistent with the mid-year report, BlockchainSpace identified Axie Infinity, Decentraland, The Sandbox, and STEPN as the top games based on market capitalization.
Relative to all-time high prices, GameFi tokens SAND, MANA, AXS, SLP, and GMT have taken a beating. AXS, SLP, MANA, and SAND saw prices dip by more than 93% each from GameFi’s peak on November 26, 2021.
With the exception of Axie Infinity’s SLP, the rest of the other four tokens’ market caps have dropped around 90% from November 25, 2021 highs. With reference to July 21, 2022, market caps fell even further dropping at least 50% each with the exception of Axie Infinity.
GameFi is a unique industry where users have the power to financialize their assets using web3 tech. In-game and native tokens aside, users leverage NFT in-game assets to participate in blockchain games. As such, taking a look at average NFT sales price, transaction volume, and active users help portray a more complete picture of the state of different games in addition to examining token prices.
Based on market capitalization, Axie Infinity is still the market leader in the GameFi industry therefore worth analyzing. In November and December of 2021, the average sales price of Axie NFTs was close to $200 with around 30,000 unique buyers. However, by the end of 2022, the collection was short of 2,000 unique NFT buyers while the average Axie NFT was sold at $6.66.
With reference to GameFi’s peak on November 26, 2021, according to data from CryptoSlam, unique buyers dropped around 94% while average sales price sold per Axie NFT dropped 97% by the end of 2022.
Finally, the average number of players on Axie Infinity has dropped considerably after peaking in January 2022 with 2,317,111 players. However, according to data from Active Player, there were only 234,403 daily active players on Axie Infinity in December 2022 — an 89.88% drop.
One of the most anticipated projects in early 2022 was STEPN. The project started 2022 off with a fundraise worth $5 million in a seed round financing in January attracting numerous investors such as Sequoia, Binance, and Folius Ventures. Based on data from BlockchainSpace, the project commanded 8.7% of market share by July 21, 2022.
In the first half of 2022, the project was busy reaching critical milestones including one million downloads in April and 1.7 million daily active users in May.
STEPN belongs to the move-to-earn category where users are rewarded with GMT tokens for walking, jogging, or running a certain distance. Tokens can be used within the STEPN ecosystem or cashed out in different exchanges. The project secured numerous partnerships such as with Asics, Solana Pay, Atlético de Madrid, and SaasGo that give users benefits both in-app and in-real-life.
Despite the web3 lifestyle app’s development and hype in 2022, according to Dune Analytics, STEPN’s monthly active users tapered off with a 93.64% drop in December from May 2022’s peak of 705,452 monthly active users.
At the same time, GMT was trading at $0.2296 by the end of 2022 — a 94% drop from its peak on April 29, 2022 at $3.83.
Similar to the GMT token, STEPN’s NFTs peaked in the last week of April 2022 where the STEPN Sneaker was trading at around 16 SOL. In the final week of December 2022, Sneakers were trading for 1.5 SOL — around 90.625% drop.
Looking Forward to 2023
Despite multiple market crashes in the second half of 2022, GameFi attempts to bounce back this 2023. However, GameFi’s state will largely depend on macroeconomic conditions, state of the overall NFT market, and the compelling nature of blockchain games to both acquire and sustain players in their ecosystems.
With blockchain gaming’s sentiment closely following crypto’s, for now, 2023’s macroeconomic outlook will play an important role in GameFi’s success. The Federal Open Market Committee’s December 2022 minutes of the meeting revealed that interest rate hikes will not be reduced immediately as long as inflation rate targets are not met.
A new dashboard published by Twitter user hilldoby of Dragonfly Capital shows that the high in transaction volume seen in the NFT industry were not all organic. Filtering out wash trading shows that peak organic transaction volume in the NFT industry happened in August 2021.
Paying attention to organic trades this 2023 can point to renewed demand for NFTs signifying early signs of life in this bear market.
Compelling Blockchain Games
2023 will be a crucial year for video game companies and blockchain gaming projects taking games to market. Some gaming studios, such as Square Enix and Rockstar Games, have renewed commitments to developing games on the blockchain recently but have not launched any titles just yet.
Data from BlockchainSpace also shows the same top five GameFi tokens, based on market capitalization, from mid-2022 to the year end. Despite this report covering the top five GameFi tokens, there are plenty of titles that look to challenge the reigning five. Games such as Illuvium, Vulcan Forged, Mobox, and Alien Worlds have tokens in the top ten based on market capitalization for the entire 2022. Whereas the top five games posted loss in market capitalization in the second half of the year, My Neighbor Alice (ALICE) and Star Atlas DAO (POLIS) posted gains.
It has yet to be proven whether the same top five games will retain their spot let alone survive the bear market. GameFi looks to rebound in 2023 after declines in 2022. What is certain is that the GameFi industry is still in its early stages with new projects set to launch this 2023. Despite the uncertainties, GameFi continues to build toward introducing innovative experiences for gamers worldwide this year and the years to follow.
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