Polygon blockchain gaming analysis
In this analysis, I’ll be looking at the current state of blockchain gaming on the Polygon network. Recently, GameFi has become a very active space with the success of successful games like Axie Infinity and Defi Kingdoms. The play-to-earn model employed by these games seems to be attracting massive user attention. One example of this is that DeFi Kingdoms generated some $1.84bn in transactions in January 2022, more than tripling the value posted by rival game dapp Axie Infinity, according to dapp information provider DappRadar.
Furthermore, the number of active game dapps continues to grow at a rapid pace. Last month, DappRadar tracked 682 such games, up 15.6% compared with a month earlier.
Finding the top 10 games
Finding the top 10 games currently on the Polygon network proved a littler harder than I expected given the rapidly shifting landscape as well a lot of projects being in development.
I finally settled on the following sources:
- Chainplay Polygon gaming list sorted by the number of users
2. Top 15 list on DappRadar sorted by number of users (top 15 because some of these dapps are not games). This list was filtered over a 30-day period to see a long-term trend.
Finding top games
To find the top games worthy of a deeper analysis, the main metric I considered was looking at off-chain user-adoption. In the off-chain user-adoption, I’m looking at the following metrics from above examples as well as social media presence.
- Number of users
- Number of Twitter followers
I chose these metrics because to dive into a deeper analysis on a game, I think we need to first see if there is actually a community that’s interested in that game.
Ordering by the total number of Twitter Followers, we find CryptoBlades to be the most popular game but according to DappRadar it has one of the lowest actual users!
My candidate for deeper analysis — The game that broke Polygon
I was ready to choose between Arc8 or Crazy Defense Heroes because of really strong number of followers on Twitter and DappRadar but then I heard of a game that literally broke the entire Polygon blockchain! This was Sunflower Farmer in early January when it caused the gas prices to spike to 500 Gwei or $0.50, up from fractions of a cent!
Sunflower Farmer is a simple game where people grow plants and use resources to exchange for the game’s token SFF. The users can also mint NFTs representing items such as Scarecrow, Chicken Coop etc. The game has been live since October but the sudden popularity in January caused all these resource interactions to clog up the blockchain.
In the screenshot below, this game was consuming 50% of all fees spent on Polygon every 5 minutes!
In addition to the gas issue, a vulnerability was exploited in the crafting system, enabling a user to mint infinite iron pickaxes. After the discovery of this issue, the team made the decision to put the game into maintenance mode on Jan 7, 2022.
Let’s now look at how many users and transactions this game was pushing at its peak.
NOTE: You might notice activity after Jan 7, 2022 and wonder who is still playing the game even though its shut-down. Here’s what the team’s official doc says:
The website was taken down on Friday 7th of January due to a vulnerability that was discovered. Right now, bots continue to farm and collect $SFF tokens by interacting directly with the smart contract on the Blockchain.
While the game has been taken down, it is not possible to remove the smart contract from the blockchain or from decentralised exchanges like QuickSwap. We have taken the necessary steps to blacklist the token but it is inevitable that bots will continue to play the decentralised game (by interacting directly through the blockchain) and people will speculate on the $SFF token.
SFF token metrics
- At its peak, almost 100K SFF were distributed as rewards.
- We still continue to see more than a 1000 SFF being claimed by the bots every day.
3. The total amount of SFF rewards have amounted to 900K with almost 200K being mined by the bots after the game front-end got shut-down.
4. At it’s peak on Jan 4, 2022, almost 240K wallets were interacting with the game and transferring the SFF token. According to the team, a majority of these might have been bots.
5. The amount of SFF tokens transferred peaked a few days later on Jan 7th, 2022 at nearly ~3.7 Million!
6. Surprisingly, we’re still seeing significant number of tokens moving between wallets after the game shut-down. For e.g. 1.7 Million tokens were transferred on Feb 17th, 2022.
Now, let’s look at the in-game resource metrics. To understand this, the in-game guide explains this the best.
The resources build on top of each other. For e.g. you start with the SFF token and mint an axe. Then you craft wood and mint the Wood pickaxe using 2 SFF token and 5 wood. The system works so on…. Here’s the complete requirements of the resources.
Now, let’s see how many of the resources were crafted.
- As we can see, the “Iron Pickaxe” hack is on full display here completely dominating everything else to the point that we only see the “Iron Pickaxe” on the chart below.
2. Once we remove the “Iron Pickaxe”, we see the popularity of all the other resources. Unfortunately, the “Wood” and “Egg” have the same default color scheme below but “Wood” is the most popular resource as seen from the next chart.
As we saw from the guide, lower level resources can be consumed to craft higher level resources. Let’s see what are the most popular consumed resources.
3. It’s no surprise that the Wood and Axe are the most popular resources again with almost 500K of the 700K crafted wood being consumed.
NFTs minted and sales
The game also uses NFTs to represent items such as Scarecrow, Christmas Tree, Chicken Coop etc. Like previously, these NFTs are minted using in-game resources like wood, SFF token, stone, eggs etc. Here’s the complete guide:
- Scarecrow is the most minted NFT over time which is no surprise since it only requires the SFF token and some wood.
2. Scarecrow is also the most sold NFT on OpenSea with a sale happening as recently as a couple of weeks ago.
OpenSea also allows transferring NFTs between wallets. I believe these could be sales taking place outside of OpenSea using an escrow service. Therefore, I decided to look at these transfers separately than sales.
3. Unsurprisingly, Scarecrow leads here as well due to larger supply.
4. However, what is surprising is that the number of transfers is much much higher than actual OpenSea sales. For e.g. at its peak nearly 900 transfers happened to 70 sales at peak.
This was the first instance of a game clogging up the entire Polygon blockchain and was a perfect advertisement for future developers to think about building a game-specific blockchain like Axie Infinity did. A lot of games launching on Avalanche will be using their own subnets to avoid issues like this. It’ll be interesting to see if Sunflower Farm returns to Polygon and when it does, how it’ll change the game mechanisms to prevent a repeat of this issue.