The nascent blockchain gaming industry is still seeing substantial venture capital investment despite continued challenges in the broader crypto and gaming markets. Blockchain games received approximately $600 million in Q3 2023, according to a report released by crypto data firm DappRadar.
That mark is down 38% from the $973 million worth of crypto gaming investment that DappRadar tracked in Q2 2023. It puts the tally at roughly $2.3 billion in funding so far this year. While 2023 isn’t over yet, this $2.3 billion in funds so far is a mere 30% of what was raised across all of last year.
This year has been tough for game studios both in and outside of crypto. GamesIndustry.biz reported that over 6,100 jobs have been eliminated across the entire gaming industry in the past year. Firms like Epic Games, Telltale Games, and Team17 have laid off staff within the past month—and gaming-focused crypto companies like Star Atlas studio ATMTA and Otherside developer Yuga Labs have also laid off staff this year.
DappRadar found that the majority of crypto gaming funding this past quarter was pushed toward gaming-centric investment firms. This suggests that VCs and their various accelerators and funds will continue to be a primary source of startup capital for fledgling blockchain game studios.
Between July and the end of September this year, $262 million was allocated to investment firms in the space, while $213 million was put toward game and metaverse projects directly. Notably, a further $125 million was funneled into blockchain gaming infrastructure, per the report.
Axie Infinity—which saw roughly half a million unique active wallets in late 2021 before experiencing a $622 million hack in early 2022—was the title with the highest amount of NFT transaction volume during this past quarter. Axie saw $90 million in total volume over the three-month period, according to DappRadar. NFT trading card game Gods Unchained took the second spot, tallying $55 million in transaction volume in Q3.
Axie Infinity’s ongoing dominance in the blockchain gaming sector is partly because most of the highly-anticipated NFT games in development are just that—still in development. Titles like Parallel, Shrapnel, Deadrop, and MapleStory Universe, for example, have not yet been fully released.
But the Sky Mavis team behind Axie has also made its own efforts to keep the game’s community engaged, even though the play-to-earn game’s rapid hype cycle—surging in 2021 with billions of dollars’ worth of NFT trades, before its economy cratered in early 2022—surely impacted Axie’s player base.
“The scene is very much vibrant,” Sky Mavis co-founder Jeffrey Zirlin said of Axie’s esports scenein a recent interview with Decrypt.
Zirlin shared that Sky Mavis is giving out 112,000 AXS tokens (roughly $472,000) to players every season, which lasts about six weeks. The game still has weekly tournaments as well.
While Zirlin sees a “consolidation” happening in the Web3 guild space—crypto gaming’s version of esports team organizations—the bear market offers its own upsides.
“Bear market hard times—that’s needed for evolution,” Zirlin said. “You cannot evolve, actually, when you’re going through a really great boom. You will change in other ways, but in terms of figuring out the next thing—that’s what these times are for.”
Stay on top of crypto news, get daily updates in your inbox.