What are NFT Card Games? A New Frontier of Gaming

Last Updated:
May 19, 2023
What are NFT Card Games - Feature Image

One area where NFTs are showing particularly exciting promise is in the gaming industry, especially within card games. NFT card games are essentially digital card games where the cards or other game assets are represented as NFTs. Let's dive in.

Non-Fungible Tokens, or NFTs, have been making waves in the digital world, particularly in the realm of digital art and music. But one area where NFTs are showing particularly exciting promise is in the gaming industry, especially within card games. NFT card games are essentially digital card games where the cards or other game assets are represented as NFTs.

NFTs are a type of digital asset that represent ownership or proof of authenticity and uniqueness using blockchain technology, primarily Ethereum. Unlike cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum, which are fungible and can be exchanged on a like-for-like basis, NFTs are unique and cannot be exchanged on a like-for-like basis. This uniqueness is what allows for the tokenization of digital assets, such as digital artwork, music, and, in this case, digital cards​.

NFTs and Gaming

The use of NFTs in gaming, particularly card games, offers a few key benefits. First and foremost, NFTs provide proof of ownership. In a digital world where copies are easy to make, NFTs ensure that the owner of a card truly owns it. This could mean owning a rare card or a card with a unique trait.

Second, NFTs allow for real-world value in games. Because NFTs can be bought and sold, a player's card or collection can carry real monetary value. In traditional digital card games, a player might spend money to acquire cards, but they typically cannot sell these cards for real money. With NFTs, a player can potentially earn back their investment or even make a profit.

Third, NFTs can provide a degree of permanence and security. Because the ownership of an NFT is recorded on a blockchain, it is secure and cannot be changed or deleted. This means that a player's collection is safe, even if the game's servers were to shut down​

Examples of NFT Card Games

One of the most well-known NFT card games is Gods Unchained. In Gods Unchained, players earn cards by playing the game, and these cards are represented as NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain. The game was designed with a balance between pay-to-win and free-to-play mechanics, which means players can build competitive decks without necessarily having to invest money into the game. However, for those who do choose to invest, rare cards can be quite valuable. One such card, the Hyperion Mythic card, was reportedly sold for 146 Ethereum, which was approximately $60,000 at the time of the transaction.

Another interesting example is Splinterlands. Splinterlands is a digital collectible card game where players can buy, sell, and trade their cards as NFTs. The game has its own marketplace for buying and selling cards, and some of the rarest cards have been sold for thousands of dollars.

How do NFT card game players make money?

Players can make money from NFT card games in several ways:

Trading and Selling Cards: In NFT card games, each card is an NFT, meaning it can be bought, sold, or traded on an open marketplace. Players can make money by selling rare or highly desirable cards to other players. This can be particularly profitable if a player manages to acquire a card early on that becomes highly sought after as the game grows in popularity.

  • Winning Tournaments: Many NFT card games hold tournaments with prize pools. Players who are particularly skilled at the game can make money by winning these tournaments.
  • Staking: Some NFT games have introduced systems where players can stake their NFTs (i.e., lock them up for a period of time) to earn rewards. These rewards can often be sold for real money.
  • Leasing or Renting Cards: In some NFT games, players can lease or rent their NFTs to other players. This can provide a steady stream of income, especially if a player owns a rare or powerful NFT that other players want to use.
  • Play-to-Earn Model: Some games follow a model where players can earn tokens or other in-game assets simply by playing the game. These assets can often be sold on an open marketplace for real money.

It's important to note, however, that while these methods can potentially be profitable, they also carry risks. The value of NFTs can be volatile, and there's no guarantee that a particular NFT will maintain its value over time. Additionally, the profitability of methods like staking or play-to-earn can depend on the overall health of the game's economy, which can be influenced by a variety of factors. As with any investment, potential players should do their own research and understand the risks before investing money in NFT card games.

The Future of NFT Card Games

The integration of NFTs into card games is just one example of how blockchain technology is revolutionizing the gaming industry. As we move forward, we can expect to see further innovations in this space. For instance, we might see games that allow for cross-game use of NFTs, meaning a card or item acquired in one game could potentially be used in another. This would further blur the lines between individual games and create a more interconnected gaming ecosystem.

Moreover, NFTs could help facilitate the rise of "play-to-earn" models, where players can potentially earn a living by playing games. This model has already been seen in games like Axie Infinity, and the use of NFTs could make this model more widespread.

The rush of collecting new and rare items in card games has always been a reliable way for game developers to encourage player retention and growth. In traditional Web2 digital card games like Hearthstone or MTG: Arena, players couldn't trade or even sell their cards. This was primarily because developers wanted to encourage players to purchase booster packs from their in-game marketplaces, thereby increasing profits. However, many players view this inability to trade cards as a limitation since it restricts the types of decks they can assemble. Instead of customizing their deck precisely, they are forced to purchase booster packs repeatedly, hoping that they will score "that one card" that will complete their planned deck.

Blockchain technology provides a solution to this problem by minting digital playing cards as NFTs. Each card can freely be transacted just like its physical equivalent. If a player is looking for a specific card, they don't have to rely on booster packs they can only buy from the game's developer. Instead, they can check whatever NFT marketplace hosts cards for the Web3 card game they're playing and directly buy them from another player.

The entire blockchain gaming industry is showing a strong inclination towards ownership. Amidst the slow decline seen by play-to-earn titles throughout 2022, the industry has rallied around a new term: play-to-own. It's a deceptively simple concept. Through this model, players can finally claim real ownership over their in-game assets and creations.

Empowering players to own, trade, and collect cards unbound by the limits imposed by the booster pack-driven model also enriches a player's overall gameplay experience. There's inherent joy in curating a collection of unique and rare cards and exploring the possibility space they provide to break the meta and win games.

Blockchain-enabled trading card games stand to considerably shake up this segment of the gaming landscape. They may even create a future paradigm wherein the main factor for anyone looking to get into a new card game is whether it comes in a digital or physical format. The benefits that NFTs bring to this field, particularly concerning ownership, will also be appreciated more and more as time goes on. As demographics shift towards a younger generation, who are more used to digitally native platforms, it is likely that we will see even more adoption of NFT card games. However, it's important to note that blockchain technology is still in its infancy. While trading card games have served as a successful proof-of-concept regarding the new dimensions of gameplay and interactivity that blockchain technology can bring into the gaming industry, there is still much innovation to be done. The full future of card games remains unclear, but one thing is certain — we will see many more changes on the horizon.


NFT card games represent a fascinating intersection of gaming, blockchain technology, and digital ownership. They provide players with a level of ownership and economic potential that is rarely seen in traditional digital games. As blockchain technology continues to evolve and become more integrated into our digital lives, we can expect NFT card games to grow in popularity and complexity. They offer not just a new way to play, but also a new way to own, trade, and potentially profit from gaming.