Gamers dislike monetization and pay-to-win in video games, while digital creators try to avoid platforms with high commissions. So, where’s the happy medium where everyone makes money from a great game?
Introducing an NFT game marketplace and tokenization strategy is the latest and best answer. It can help you engage players on a new level without making them feel exploited for cash, while blockchain-based platforms reduce transaction fees and increase revenue opportunities for creators.
A study from research company Absolute Reports forecasts that NFT game market size could increase from $776.9 million in 2021 to over $2.84 billion by 2028. A 2021 NFT Industrial Development Report also shows that games and in-game props made up 21% of the overall NFT market in 2020. It’s no wonder that companies like Ubisoft and Gameloft are introducing tokenized items and blockchain technology into AAAA games.
This article shows why an NFT marketplace for in-game assets is a win-win opportunity for game development companies, digital asset creators, and gamers. We’ll also guide you through the development process, highlight essential features, and tell you how you can address common development challenges.
Reasons to invest in an NFT game marketplace
An NFT game marketplace is a digital platform where gamers can discover, trade, and rent NFTs and other in-game digital assets. Marketplaces can also support community engagement activities such as contests, giveaways, and raffle programs.
So what’s in it for you as a game owner or platform developer?
Business benefits of gaming NFT marketplaces
Most developers don’t fully understand NFTs as a concept. In a nutshell, an NFT is an indivisible cryptographic asset on the blockchain with unique metadata. In a gaming context, NFTs allow players to completely own specific digital assets, such as in-game props and avatars.
An NFT-based game marketplace benefits from the blockchain technology that powers it. It also offers business opportunities for game development companies, designers, content creators, and players who want to make money in games with NFTs.
Here’s a list of advantages an NFT game marketplace could bring to your company and player base:
- Complete ownership. Incorporating NFTs into a game allows full ownership of digital assets such as unique avatars, weapon skins, virtual real estate, and other cosmetics.
- Trading without intermediaries. NFTs exist on decentralized networks, meaning that users can list, trade, and rent digital assets without third-party oversight or transaction fees.
- A broader user base. The NFT game marketplace attracts developers, digital creators, and players who want to freely mint and trade unique in-game assets at scale. NFT marketplaces aren’t limited to blockchain-based games such as Axie Infinity: you can also incorporate them into regular video games, just as Ubisoft did with Quartz NFTs.
- Higher item turnover. NFTs can switch a player’s mindset from consumer to investor. Players will trade more if they have a chance to make a profit or at least win back the cost of their purchase.
- Enhanced privacy. Decentralized blockchain-based marketplaces usually don’t require personally identifiable documents and have fewer Know Your Customer (KYC) checks to let users maintain their anonymity.
- NFT interoperability. Your platform can allow players to mint and list NFTs with standardized metadata. As a result, you can bring NFTs into decentralized games to give a cross-game experience with common in-game props.
- Safe trading. Although people can freely trade digital assets with each other, an NFT gaming marketplace vets creators to ensure players can buy only legitimate items. Plus, trading records and metadata cannot be modified after a transaction, which lowers the risk of data theft and fraud.
- Transparency. All activities in the blockchain, such as NFT minting, selling, and yield farming, are visible to the public. In addition to financial transparency, this ensures that NFT rights are easily verifiable.
- Immutable data storage. The blockchain infrastructure is a highly resilient and unalterable peer-to-peer (P2P) ledger distributed across several computing devices that maintain an independent copy of your database. You can quickly restore your entire game marketplace if something happens to your database.
In summary, adding an NFT marketplace to a video game can generate a whole internal ecosystem that contributes to your cash flow. A marketplace is also an integral part of play-to-earn NFT games, whруку trading is essential.
Sold on the idea? Let’s look at the main NFT game marketplace features and best practices you should consider when developing a platform.
Essential features of a video game NFT marketplace
Many companies are already experimenting by adding NFT markets to their games, which has increased user expectations. That’s why a successful NFT game marketplace may need more features than you would initially expect.
Users need an option to register through different channels, including their Web3 wallets. If your marketplace is featured in-game, you can incorporate a QR code login for players to scan from their screen without leaving the game or switching a game application.
Authorization and authorization controls verify service users and assign temporary access tokens. You should also incorporate multi-factor authentication (such as one-time passwords or biometric scans), automatic log-off, and intrusion prevention systems to decrease the risks of cyberattacks.
NFT listing lets registered users mint their own digital assets on your platform and list them on the storefront. You should also add a listing status feature for asset creators to track the token authentication process.
NFT creation and minting
Creating an NFT requires users to code a smart contract and deploy it on the blockchain for a fee. Your game marketplace can make this step easier by allowing users to create tokens without manual hand-coding and with fewer deployment costs.
NFT metadata contains descriptive information, legal data about its ownership, and usually a link to an associated in-game item. You can use MetaFi practices to standardize metadata for newly created NFTs. Doing so can make items on your platform more accessible across different blockchain networks, metaverse worlds, and games.
Search, filtering, and sorting
An advanced search functionality gives users more chances to find the NFTs they want. You should also let them filter and sort digital assets based on different attributes, in-game functionality, and other metadata.
Encouraging users to rate, review, and leave feedback about NFTs gives other buyers an insight into a product’s uniqueness and popularity and lets you show a price range for similar items.
The best NFT game marketplaces allow users to connect several centralized and decentralized wallets, giving them more trading possibilities. You can also integrate third-party DeFi exchanges that automatically swap cryptocurrencies for a negligible fee, thus allowing users to instantly trade in their preferred currency.
An auction with bidding functionality gives NFT creators the chance to get the best price for their tokens. Consider adding features that let users view auction-listed assets and see the current bid, time left, and other bid details. You can also give creators an option to set a “Buy It Now” price, as on eBay.
Your marketplace could let users rent valuable NFT items to players who can’t afford to buy them. This functionality alone could generate a reliable revenue income and attract more investors.
Users may like to add items to a wishlist for future purchases. You can also include a notification system, so users can later be notified if these products are available for a discount or with a limited-time offer. Add a feature for list sharing to give players a chance to receive gifts from friends or fans.
Customer support module
A complex blockchain-based trading platform must provide self-service features (like billing management and invoice generation), guides, and FAQs. Your users will also need to be able to raise tickets for technical problems and chat with a support agent via live chat for troubleshooting.
Administrators should be able to manage user profiles, NFT sales, system roles, and access rights, and also oversee the overall functionality of your platform. An analytics dashboard will help them monitor the platform’s performance, see detailed user metrics, and monitor transactions.
Now that we’ve got to grips with the essential features let’s run through the NFT game marketplace development process.
Guide to developing a video game NFT marketplace
Our development methodology at Unicsoft is based on our long-term experience developing blockchain-based projects and NFT marketplaces. For a recent project, we helped one of our clients create an NFT game marketplace designed for integration with traditional AAA games. You can reach us here for more information about the project.
Here are the main stages in developing an NFT game trading platform.
1. Discovery phase
As the saying goes, it doesn’t matter how fast you’re going if you’re heading in the wrong direction. That’s why you should begin development with in-depth research about both your end users and the NFT game market.
For example, will it be more profitable to add NFT trading to an existing regular game or create a marketplace for blockchain-based games? Do you want to create a platform for third-party companies or instead provide first-party content for your own games?
You also need to study your competitors. Make a note of their platforms’ functionality and the technology stack they use. Don’t just look at NFT marketplaces: learn from regular in-game asset exchanges too.
A qualified blockchain development company can help you study the market, refine the business vision for your project, and decide on the scope of work. At Unicsoft, we can also organize workshops to help your team adapt to the new technologies.
2. Marketplace design
Unique features can distinguish your NFT game marketplace from other platforms and make it more valuable for traders. Still, in an industry as complex as blockchain, features are useless if they’re not supported by great UX.
At this stage, you’ll design your user interface, create wireframes (skeletons) for applications, and build architectural diagrams. You’ll also specify screen types and navigation based on best market practices to ensure a seamless experience. Your designers should approve all mockups with your stakeholders before handing them over to the developers.
3. Front-end development
The development team should transform the approved architecture and designs into a functional system. This phase includes code writing, testing, and fine-tuning the core features of your platform.
You might want to create a minimum viable product (MVP) before investing in full-scale development. It lets you validate if your marketplace is popular enough for your target audience and if you have all the features users might need. To keep costs to a minimum, you can use low-code platforms, open-source tools, and manual service processing.
4. Blockchain network selection
The more blockchain infrastructure layers your application has, the more difficult it becomes to integrate it with other platforms. Besides, building a network from scratch requires specific hardware and significant investments. This is why most companies prefer to develop an application layer for an NFT marketplace and integrate it with existing networks, such as Ethereum and Solana.
Here’s what you’ll need to consider when choosing the right blockchain network for your project:
- Transaction (gas) costs. These impact the price of operations in your marketplace and related fees.
- Transaction throughput per second (TPS). This is the time the network takes to confirm operations.
- Consensus algorithms. These ensure the uniformity of transactions to prevent fraudulent activity, but some algorithms (the most widely used being Proof of Work) may be too resource-consuming.
In general, you should make digital items on your marketplace accessible on as many platforms as possible to make them more valuable to customers. This is why you might want to build your project on the Ethereum Virtual Machine, Polkadot, or Solana frameworks.
5. Contract layer development
NFT gaming marketplaces use smart contract algorithms to process transactions. They let your users trade digital assets, exchange cryptocurrencies, and store assets as they’re rented without external intermediaries.
Developing smart contracts for this layer requires extensive blockchain expertise and knowledge of standards such as ERC-721 and ERC-1155. More importantly, code audit and testing are critical, as you can’t modify smart contract algorithms after release.
At this point, you should be done with the front-end features, design elements, and smart contract layer of your NFT gaming marketplace. Next, your team must develop APIs to let your platform interact with the business logic on compatible blockchain networks. It enables you to extend the number of available digital assets and, therefore, helps you attract more players, creators, and traders.
Third-party services can enhance your platform’s value in the customer’s eyes. That’s why you can integrate your marketplace with crypto walters, payment gateways, social media, content management systems, and customer support tools.
7. Release and support
Quality assurance and user testing ensure your platform is free of performance issues and security vulnerabilities. It’s also critical that your platform can handle increased load and quickly remediate system errors.
Blockchain-based marketplaces require regular updates, system maintenance, and uptime monitoring to stay relevant. Therefore, the development team should prepare extensive documentation and manuals to help the support teams after launch, especially if you plan to outsource maintenance to an outside company.
Creating an NFT gaming marketplace can look similar to regular gaming platform development, but blockchain technology makes it much more difficult. So, what are the problems you can encounter?
Top challenges of NFT gaming marketplace development
Our team is currently developing gaming NFT marketplaces for several clients. We’ve already encountered and solved many technological and business challenges. Here’s a short list of the main problems you can face and ways to deal with them.
High transaction fees
The main blockchain network for NFTs — Ethereum — suffers from high gas fees and slow throughput. As it stands, Ethereum isn’t, therefore, the best option for NFT minting, listing, and trading operations.
We use Layer 2 solutions (like state and payment-channel networks and sidechains) to increase transaction throughput. This means that gamers benefit from easier operations, faster trades, and lower gas fees.
Blockchain network integration
NFT game marketplaces that don’t integrate with a blockchain ecosystem have a lower value for end-users. A stand-alone platform will be isolated from the broader economy and stagnate over time.
The Unicsoft team uses a microservice architecture and a flexible technical stack to make NFT platforms and smart contracts interoperable. We know how to make a marketplace that integrates with blockchain networks, decentralized applications, and crypto-wallets.
Most game NFTs contain simple pixel art or a URL to a digital asset in their metadata, as deploying large media on a blockchain is way too expensive. However, URLs that point to in-game items can break if something happens to the host, leaving the owner unable to access the asset or retain ownership rights.
A solution is to host content decentralized storage networks like Filecoin and use the IPFS (Interplanetary File System) hypermedia data storage protocol for content addressing. This lets you store information about digital assets and also create unique content identifiers that can find NFTs by their names instead of links. Popular blockchain-based marketplaces like OpenSea use IPFS to ensure links to their content remain immutable.
You need to implement KYC checks to verify the client’s identity and ensure regulatory compliance of your video game NFT marketplace. However, these tools should only collect data that prove the user’s legitimacy and refrain from storing personalization and financial data.
Our team knows which KYC measures can ensure regulatory compliance while still protecting your users’ privacy. As an option, we can implement self-sovereign identity support, where your platform identifies a user from their internet identity instead of personally identifiable data.
Smart contract risks
You can’t change smart contract algorithms after deployment, meaning every bug can create security vulnerabilities for your platform. For example, incorrect signature implementation can lead to unauthorized transfers of assets. Hackers can also exploit accepted system characteristics to change desired contract behavior for fraudulent activity.
A third-party audit can help you address potential issues. In addition, it’s advisable to test your contracts via a testnet or a local blockchain network to make sure they execute as intended and comply with security standards.
Build an NFT game marketplace with Unicsoft
NFTs are an exciting earning opportunity for both regular and blockchain-based games. If you’re a game owner, an NFT gaming marketplace can create a stable revenue stream as you increase your user base and appeal more to third-party digital creators. Alternatively, you can choose to create a platform for the growing market of play-to-earn NFT games.
Whichever option you’re considering, you’ll need expertise and the right technical stack to create a secure, compliant, and feature-rich platform. At Unicsoft, we’re here to help. Our team has experience with NFT marketplace development and has dealt with many of its challenges. We are regularly recognized as a top blockchain technology company and service provider by companies like Gartner and TopDevelopers. And we have a near-impeccable Clutch rating to show for it. If that’s something you’re interested in — contact us if you want to talk business.