Magic Eden exec sees NFT gaming like the ‘early days of mobile gaming’

Blockchain games have grown exponentially over the past year as a new and innovative alternative to the traditional gaming world. While the two areas have been widely separated, some market players see an integrated future.

“I was around in the very early days of mobile gaming, right after the iPhone came out, the App Store came out,” Chris Akhavan, chief gaming officer at NFT marketplace Magic Eden, said to TechCrunch. “I remember the attitude back then amongst traditional gaming companies was that mobile games were stupid.”

These gaming conglomerates viewed mobile games as “really small, unimpressive games” that people wouldn’t want to play, Akhavan said. “Largely, a lot of the big traditional gaming companies ignored mobile [games] for the first couple of years and that created opportunities for new mobile gaming companies like King, which is now owned by Activision, to create that margin and grow substantially.”

As that happened, big gaming companies became hyperfocused on the mobile gaming space and began acquiring smaller games to compete, Akhavan noted.

“We think that the same journey is going to happen in web3,” Akhavan said. “Over the last year, there’s been multiple billions of dollars invested in new web3 gaming studios and they’ll lead the charge here in creating the ecosystem and showing the true sides of the opportunities, which is going to be massive.”

Akhavan was hired by Magic Eden just two weeks ago, an indicator that the leading Solana-based NFT marketplace is trying to push itself further into the gaming space. The platform now offers NFTs across Solana, Ethereum and Polygon blockchains.

“At the end of the day, we are a marketplace for anything that has digital asset ownership,” Akhavan said. “Web3 gives the ability for creators to earn value and have more true ownership over games.”

Last week, Magic Eden expanded its Launchpad and marketplace to support the layer-2 blockchain Polygon in an effort to become more multichain and expand to new communities, Zhuoxun Yin, co-founder of Magic Eden, said to TechCrunch.

“From day one, we’ve thought of ourselves as a multichain NFT marketplace,” Yin said. “If you look at the way NFTs are proliferating across the different chains, different use cases are developing more strongly on the chains. So it’s a must as a platform that supports creators to support different use cases.”

Magic Eden’s NFT platform plans to bring games to the Polygon blockchain by working with developers like Shatterpoint and Infinite Drive in December. In early 2023, it aims to team up with Taunt Battleworld, Planet Mojo and Kakao Games. Shatterpoint was developed by BlockGames and Estoty, a European gaming studio with over 50 million active monthly players, Magic Eden said.

Even though crypto markets may be hurting, blockchain gaming is still pouring in money.

In the past 30 days, the total balance, which is the total value of assets in the decentralized applications (dApps) smart contracts, across the five largest blockchain games reached about $1.327 billion, according to DappRadar data. The games, BinaryX, Axie Infinity, Galactic Arena DeFi Kingdoms and The Sandbox, consisted of 170,262 unique active wallets, which typically equates to how many players are interacting with the game.

“Most industry-shifting events are always led by new and nimble teams,” Yin said. “That’s what we’re seeing. A lot of the gaming teams that have been experimenting in the past 12 months have been web3-native.”

To date, Magic Eden has worked with Animoca Brands, nWay and Kakao, among others, and has launched over 150 web3 games through those partnerships, Akhavan noted.

Since traditional game companies learned a lesson in being late to mobile, neither they nor Magic Eden is going to be late here, Akhavan said. “They’re going to move faster as they start to see real traction in the space.”

By the middle of next year, Akhavan thinks the industry will start to see “really awesome blockchain games come out that truly demonstrate the potential of this technology to transport gaming.”

Then what, you might ask? “The big Web 2.0 gaming companies will jump into the space shortly after,” Akhavan added.