August NFT data wrap: Is web3 gaming full of bots?

Quick Take

  • NFT market volume is down again.
  • A new report shed light on NFT thefts and money laundering.
  • A company has claimed that 40% of web3 gamers are actually bots.

The NFT community was in a debating mood last month. To grant royalties or to not grant royalties? Commercial licensing rights or creative commons?

But when it comes down to the numbers, the bear market continues. Monthly NFT marketplace volumes are down again, according to The Block's data dashboard.

Meanwhile in gaming, an anti-bot company has claimed web3 gaming is full of them — and some of the numbers put even Elon Musk's wildest Twitter-bot estimates to shame. If accurate, the numbers could be a blow to blockchain gaming, which has enjoyed a surge of investment interest this year.

More than $100 million worth of NFTs were stolen in the last year

Over $100 million worth of NFTs were stolen between July 2021 and July 2022, including a total of 167 Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs worth over $43.6 million. That's according to a new report from blockchain analytics firm Elliptic released this month. After Bored Apes, the most targeting collections were Mutant Ape Yacht Club and Azuki.

The report also looked at money laundering using NFTs and found that, despite fears, it’s not that common. Over $8 million in illicit funds has been laundered through NFT-based platforms since 2017, representing 0.02% of trading activity originating from known sources.

The OpenSea trading 'down 99%' debate

An article on Aug. 29 in Fortune described OpenSea transactions as “down 99%,” noting that the previous Sunday the marketplace had recorded just $9.34 million in NFT transactions, down from a record $2.7 billion on May 1.

However, OpenSea CFO Brian Roberts hit back at the claims on Twitter, accusing Fortune of having “cherry picked” a single day in May that saw six times greater than the average between March and June. The spike was likely driven by the Apr. 30 Otherdeed sale.

The peak the article used is likely attributable to the Otherdeed sale on Apr. 30. But that said, volume transactions for NFT marketplaces are nevertheless down, albeit less than the seismic drop from May to June. OpenSea's monthly volume went from $528.64 million in July to $485.32 million in August.

Across the top ten marketplaces, volume was down from $675.43 million to 592.34 million.

The rise of no royalty marketplaces?

Decentralized NFT marketplace Sudoswap sparked controversy in mid-August with its automated market maker (AMM) that allows people to buy and sell automatically without having to wait for interested buyers or sellers. The gripe people have though is it bypasses royalties that go to creators.

But according to this Dune Sudoswap dashboard, since Sudoswap launched its AMM in July, it experienced a surge in volume.

Several no-royalty marketplaces have also popped up over the previous months, including Solanart and Yawww. X2Y2 also recently announced buyers would be able to choose how much in royalties they want to give to projects.

The result is an ongoing debate over the application and enforcement of royalties in the NFT space.

GameFi token market caps have declined

The market capitalization of the top 50 GameFi tokens dropped by over 60% from January to August 2022, according to The Block Research. That’s similar to the market cap decline of the top 50 DeFi tokens.

As of August 2022, it has also recorded a total of 1,575 GameFi projects — 40% of these are based on BNB Chain. Just over a quarter are Ethereum-based and 15% are on Polygon. But even they are faring much better than gaming-specific blockchains. Ones like Immutable X, Gala Games, WAX, Enjin, and Wemix are only snagging between 1% and 6% of the market share.

But players can only play around a third of all GameFi projects at the moment. According to The Block Research, “this is in line with the expectation of a long game development cycle of 3 to 5 years since most GameFi projects only receive funding between 2021 and 2022.”

Alien Worlds is the most played game

Alien Worlds is currently most popular blockchain-based game by active addresses. Axie Infinity, Solitaire Blitz, Splinterlands and Upland round out the top five.

...But are they bots?

Anti-bot protection software company Jigger came out with an interesting stat last week. It claims that 40% of the “players” in web3 games are bots. The research looked at over 60 web3 games and found evidence of around 200,000 bots across them all.

Half of PC and console gamers interested in metaverse

Google’s 2022 PC & Console Insights Report revealed that 47% of PC and console gamers are interested in interacting with the metaverse in the future. Respondents were also more interested in VR and AR than NFT-based games.

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