Japan’s influence is no stranger to the metaverse, where it has ingrained itself in the dizzying world of NFTs. And now, the next generation of gaming has elevated NFTs and cryptocurrencies even further, propelling them into an entire subcategory of games—specifically those that utilize cryptocurrencies for in-game transactions: NFT games!
But NFT games go beyond providing in-game cryptocurrency integrations. On the other end of the spectrum, they have also elevated the play-to-earn model, allowing gamers to earn by making smart investments and being good at what they’re doing.
How Does Play-to-Earn Work?
As its name suggests, the play-to-earn model allows players to make money by playing a game. Without NFTs and cryptocurrency in the picture, this model would pay dedicated players who pour in hours of gameplay or win large-scale events.
Cryptocurrencies elevate the play-to-earn monetization model by integrating themselves into traditional gameplay. For example, the game may have an in-house token that you can naturally earn by playing the game, winning battles, and general progression. The token, a legitimate cryptocurrency, can be swapped for more traditional coins like Bitcoin or Ethereum—which you can then withdraw for real-life money.
Likewise, NFTs can play a big role in the game’s economy, bringing in another layer of monetization for the players.
The NFT gaming craze has wiggled its way into Japan through the Japan-inspired Polka Fantasy, an upcoming project that’s actively in development—with plenty of presales and raffles keeping the community going. It’s expected to be an NFT marketplace and multiverse ecosystem with play-to-earn mechanics.
Marketplace aside, you can use special NFTs to play an RPG-like battle game with land ownership mechanics. While full gameplay details have yet to be released, Polka Fantasy is built upon the ACG model (animation, comic, game), which is common among many JRPGs, so you can expect a similar experience.
Polka Fantasy boasts an in-house token called PolkaFantasy (XP), which developers state will be a governance token that can be used, earned, and traded in-game.
Girl Story is a dating sim currently in development on the Binance Smartchain. Once it’s released, you can interact with NFT anime girls, do daily quests, train them, go on dates, and more. While key gameplay mechanics are still in development, Girl Story’s roadmap indicates that a housing and simulation system is in the works.
Girl Story is unapologetically inspired by popular Japanese idol games, such as Love Live! School Idol Project—so much so that it’s already found itself at the centre of a copyright scandal. But beyond that controversy, the game has actively been doing $METAGIRL giveaways (its in-house token) and generating user interest.
It’s hard not to see the Pokemon-inspired mechanics in Axie Infinity, the play-to-earn sensation that has taken the world by storm. The game is one of the most prominent existing play-to-earn titles through an easily digestible conversion economy: earn Smooth Love Potions (SLP) and Axie Infinity Shards (AXS) by playing the game, convert them to any common cryptocurrency or use them for breeding Axies, and withdraw the coins for real-life cash.
The gameplay is simple but requires a hefty investment. Players must deploy a team of three Axies, Ethereum-based NFTs that can be purchased from an online marketplace. So while there’s earning potential in this game, it’s impossible to get into without taking a financial risk.
Among the games in this lineup, Splinterlands stands out as a digital trading card game, a genre that has always been ingrained in the Japanese game culture. The concept has soared to the metaverse with NFT trading cards that allow players to battle against each other while enjoying play-to-earn perks along the way.
Splinterlands also boasts an in-house token called Dark Energy Crystals (DEC), which players can earn by winning Ranked Battles. DEC can be converted to a common cryptocurrency and withdrawn for real-life cash. Meanwhile, NFT trading cards can be purchased from online marketplaces like OpenSea.
Japan and Kawaii culture go hand-in-hand, which is why Kawaii Islands is a no-brainer on this list. Kawaii Islands is a nod to casual simulator games, with farming, crafting, and trading mechanics that allow you to manage and design your island. But unlike similar titles like Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Kawaii Islands monetizes gameplay with NFT items that can be sold and purchased in its dedicated marketplace.
Its native token is Kawaii Islands (KWT), which you can earn by completing orders and becoming some of the best island designers on the leaderboards. And like other game-specific tokens, KWT can be converted to common cryptocurrencies and withdrawn for real-life cash.
The ever-growing gaming scene that empowers NFTs and cryptocurrencies unapologetically takes inspiration from games all over the world—especially Japan, a big player in the traditional gaming scene. And as this industry continues to grow, some local Japanese gaming studios have also begun taking steps toward NFT integrations, bringing in plenty of excitement for less conservative NFT games to come around.