The short version
- Gaming crypto coins are the native currency of certain blockchain gaming platforms and allow users to interact with the platform’s features and other users.
- There are hundreds of gaming platforms, and the most popular include MANA, SAND, AXS, and ENJ.
- You can buy gaming coins on any popular cryptocurrency exchange, and either use them in a gaming platform or simply hold them like any other investment.
- Gaming coins can result in major profits, but they’re also risky, so it’s worth considering whether you want that level of risk in your investment portfolio.
What are gaming crypto coins?
Gaming coins are cryptocurrencies that are native to certain gaming platforms.
These coins serve as the in-game currency for the platform they’re native to: Users can buy them on popular cryptocurrency exchanges like Coinbase or on their native gaming platform. Depending on the platform, you may also be able to earn coins within the game or acquire them from other users.
Some gaming coins have a lot of value in the gaming platforms they’re native to, but may not have much value outside of that platform. Others have found popularity and considerable value on the crypto markets beyond their platforms, making them a better overall investment.
However, even the most popular gaming coins are different from big cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum because they aren’t nearly as mainstream. You’d be unlikely to find a retailer they’re built for that accepts these coins as payment, and there’s not much of an incentive to hold them beyond their native gaming platforms.
More: Cryptocurrency Bank: Which banks offer bitcoin and other cryptos?
Top crypto gaming coins
There are hundreds of different gaming coins available with varying values. However, there are some that stand out as the most popular. Let’s talk about a few of those.
MANA is the native currency for the Decentraland platform. Decentraland is a virtual reality platform where users can buy and build plots of land, interact with other users, and more. Users must use MANA to make purchases on the platform, but they can also earn MANA by monetizing their land and other property on the Decentraland platform.
The coin traded consistently below $0.10 for nearly three years before seeing an increase in May 2021, though still remaining below $1. The coin saw a surge in late 2021, reaching its record high of $5.91 on November 24, 2021.
The Sandbox (SAND)
The Sandbox is another virtual reality platform where users can create, buy, and sell digital assets. Similar to Decentraland, The Sandbox allows users to buy and develop land. They can then host experiences on their land or invite friends to visit. SAND is the native currency of The Sandbox, and users can use it to buy land and other digital assets. Users can also monetize virtual experiences to earn more SAND.
SAND, like many cryptocurrencies, traded at next to nothing for several years when it was first created**. It also benefited from the same surge as MANA in 2021**, seeing a slight price increase at the start of the year, and reaching its record-high price of $8.40 on November 24, 2021.
More: How to invest in the sandbox: Where to buy and sell SAND
Axie infinity (AXS)
Axie Infinity is a blockchain-based game that allows users to battle others, and collect token-based creatures. The game also allows you to earn additional AXS, which is the native currency of the platform. Axie Infinity is sort of like the blockchain version of Pokémon. Users can find and collect creatures, breed them, train them, and more. Users can also use AXS to buy land and build up their own kingdom.
AXS trades at a considerably higher price than the other gaming coins we’ve mentioned, though we can’t know for sure why. It started on a similar trend, trading below $1 leading up to 2021. AXS experienced a much larger and more prolonged surge than the other coins, reaching a price high of $160.36 on November 6, 2021. Its price has dropped considerably since then, but it still trades higher than other gaming coins.
Enjin coin (ENJ)
Enjin is a blockchain platform where users can trade, collect, and manage NFTs, house their cryptocurrency, play online games, and more. Enjin Coin (ENJ) is the native currency on the platform, which users can use on the Enjin Network, a social gaming platform where users can play and connect with other users. Enjin users have plenty of ways to earn ENJ, including by creating NFTs or trading those they’ve purchased.
ENJ has a much longer history than the other gaming coins we’ve mentioned. Pricing data goes back to early 2017, when the coin traded at just a couple of cents. In fact, it took nearly three years for the price to remain above $0.20 for more than a day at a time. Like other coins, this one reached its historical high on November 24, 2021, with a trading price of $4.69.
Note: You’ll notice each of the gaming coins we mentioned experienced their highest trading price in November 2021. Rather being a result of events having to do with these platforms, these surges were representative of a surge in cryptocurrency values overall.
The value of gaming coins
Gaming coins have plenty of value if you use the platform they’re the native currency of. But just how valuable they are outside of their respective platforms? They aren’t as mainstream as other digital currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. And it’s harder to buy stuff with them. So why would anyone invest in, say, SAND outside of the Sandbox?
While it’s true that they were designed for play, gaming coins can be traded on other exchanges and platforms. And like other cryptocurrencies, you can make a profit if you invest in gaming coins and are able to sell them for more than you purchased them.
Look at SAND, for example. On January 1, 2021, the gaming currency was trading at $0.04. On May 26, 2022, it was trading at $1.41. While that still may not sound like much, it’s an increase of 3,425% in less than a year and a half, which is huge by literally any standard. Similarly, MANA saw an increase of 1,163%.
It’s not uncommon for cryptocurrencies to start at a low price, as SAND did in 2021.
The price increase afterward can be attributed to two things:
- The rise in popularity of the platform; and
- A general surge in cryptocurrency prices that occurred in 2021.
Had you invested significant amounts into either of those gaming coins at the start of 2021, you could have made a massive profit. In fact, an investment of $1,000 into SAND on January 1, 2021 would have turned into $34,250 in the months since.
How to buy gaming crypto coins
Even though gaming coins are native to a particular platform, you can still buy them on most major cryptocurrency exchanges like Coinbase, Gemini, or Kraken.
To buy gaming coins, you’ll have to start by opening an account on a cryptocurrency exchange, if you don’t already have one. From there, you can connect your payment method and purchase your desired number of gaming coins. Once you’ve purchased your coins, you can transfer them to your cryptocurrency wallet to either hold or use on the gaming platform.
More: Centralized vs. decentralized exchange: which one is right for you?
Should you invest in crypto gaming?
Gaming coins are useful for anyone who is active on web3 and blockchain-based gaming platforms. And we know that some gaming coins have seen massive returns over the past couple of years even outside of their native platforms. It’s clear they can be a good investment.
However, investing in a gaming coin is even riskier than investing in cryptocurrency in general. The success of these coins is largely tied to their corresponding gaming platform. And if that platform fails, it stands to reason the gaming coin would fail as well.
While gaming coins and blockchain gaming platforms in general may not be going anywhere, individual companies could (and likely will). It’s entirely possible that you choose one gaming platform to invest in and then its coin’s value plummets.
More: Is Bitcoin a good inflation hedge? (study)
Secondly, past returns are no guarantee of future returns. And assets like cryptocurrency, unfortunately, don’t make it onto most investors’ radars until they’ve already gone through their most explosive growth period. Experiencing the same growth for yourself would require a combination of enormous luck and research to pick the next big coin.
So while gaming coins and other cryptocurrencies can be profitable investments, they’re also highly speculative. As a result, if you do choose to invest in them, it’s recommended that you limit them to only a small portion of your portfolio to reduce your overall risk.
The bottom line
Gaming coins are an important part of many blockchain gaming platforms and allow users to interact with the games as well as other users. You can use gaming coins to buy assets within these gaming platforms and even earn additional coins within them.
There are many popular gaming coins, including MANA, SAND, AXS, and more. If you’re considering adding gaming coins to your portfolio, be sure to research the coins that are the best fit for you and consider how they’ll fit into your overall investment portfolio and risk level.
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