Top metaverse coins: Which ones are worth looking at?

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Your guide to the top metaverse coins in the online gaming space

Metaverse logo on a virtual reality headset                                 
Metaverse coins vary considerably in value and utility – Photo: Shutterstock
                                

With the growth of online gaming, it’s only natural that the metaverse has helped bring forward tokens that help power virtual worlds of one kind or another.

As interest grows, gamers and investors alike are looking for the biggest and most interesting top metaverse coins to invest in. But with dozens to choose from, it’s not easy to choose which are the top metaverse coins to buy.

What is a metaverse?

The metaverse is a fairly straightforward idea and one that has been around for decades. The premise is that, at some point in the future, all humans will interact in a virtual world through their own avatars.

The concept has been around for a while, with the virtual reality (VR) boom in the early 1990s being a key driver. There has not yet been one single online existence that has linked humanity together, but there are smaller virtual worlds where people can log in and explore the space and interact with other users. These are called metaverses.

What does that have to do with cryptocurrency? Many virtual worlds at present are powered by blockchain. Having a crypto token that is associated with the metaverse can give participants in the metaverse the power to help govern the space. Also, in many metaverses, there is the option to buy digital products, such as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), using metaverse tokens. 

There is a lot of crossover between the top metaverse coins by market cap and the biggest cryptos in both the play-to-earn and NFT spaces. As of 18 March 2022, the top metaverse coins by market capitalisation were MANA, APE, SAND and AXS, which were also the top four play-to-earn coins. Many metaverses offer NFTs and as a result, these spaces offer play-to-earn games.

Here are our nine picks from among the biggest and most interesting metaverse tokens. It is worth pointing out here that the crypto market and, by extension, the metaverse market have fallen quite considerably recently, with the depegging of UST and the collapse of LUNA a big factor. So don’t be too worried if a token has fallen in 2022.

ApeCoin (APE)

The cryptocurrency market has been in something of a bearish phase so far in 2022, losing about 20% of its overall value. Most cryptos have gone down in value over the course of the year to date, and it might well be a tough time to launch a crypto. That said, there has been one pretty significant crypto launch in 2022, and it’s one which has some real relevance to the metaverse. 

The Bored Ape Yacht Club is the single biggest collection of NFTs out there. According to data from CoinMarketCap, it has an estimated market cap of just over one million ETH ($2,802,570,000) and features 9,999 individual pieces of digital art. In March 2022, Yuga Labs, the founders of Bored Ape Yacht Club, made an announcement to say that there would be a new, associated, crypto token coming out.

On 17 March 2022, Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT holders got a bit of a surprise when they found that they had ApeCoin in their wallets. This token, based on the Ethereum blockchain, is run semi-independently of BAYC and Yuga via a decentralised autonomous organisation called the ApeCoin DAO.

Membership of this DAO is open to all ApeCoin holders, and it is overseen by the ApeCoin Foundation. The foundation’s board consists of Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, head of ventures and gaming at FTX Amy Wu, Sound Ventures principal Maaria Bajwa, Animoca co-founder Yat Siu and Horizen Labs president Dean Steinbeck.

The idea behind it, as well as allowing holders to take part in the governance of the ApeCoin DAO, was to serve as a utility token for both the DAO and BAYC, to give holders access to exclusive games, merchandise, events, and services, and to incentivise third-party developers to incorporate APE into what they were doing. 

It is probably fair to describe APE’s impact on the metaverse crypto space as being spectacular. From going from a coin that did not officially exist on 16 March, early on 18 March it had earned itself a market cap of around $4bn, which made it the largest metaverse cryptocurrency and the 31st largest crypto overall by that metric.

Although the rankings went down to second largest metaverse token and 33rd largest crypto overall as Decentraland’s MANA gained over the course of the day, that was pretty remarkable for a crypto that didn’t exist three days previously, by 13 May it was back to being the biggest metaverse crypto around, and the 32nd largest overall.

At the same time, there were 284.8 million APE in circulation, out of a total supply of one billion, and the coin was trading at around $9.15, up from its launch price of $1 but down from its all-time high of $39.40 on 17 March.

A word of warning, though. ApeCoin is one of the newest cryptocurrencies on the market and, while there is certainly a buzz about it, we are so early on in its development that it is very hard to ascertain what will happen to it. On one hand, NFTs are a big deal but, on the other hand, it is always possible that non-fungible tokens are a bubble that could easily burst, leaving a lot of people out of pocket and APE in a bad way.

While it is encouraging to see that the foundation consists of named people who are established in the crypto and tech worlds, there is nothing to say that it will not all end badly. That isn’t to suggest that it is a scam, but things don’t have to fail deliberately: many cryptocurrencies have launched with the best of intentions only to collapse and die. At this stage, we cannot say for certain that that will not happen to ApeCoin.

It will be worth keeping an eye on this token to see what happens to it. 

Decentraland (MANA)

Decentraland is the biggest rival that SAND faces when it comes to operating in the play-to-earn crypto space. Its MANA crypto powers the system, which consists of a very large online world, with 90,601 pieces of land that people can buy and decorate with NFTs. The NFTs can be bought, sold, and traded on the system’s marketplace, and Decentraland uses the MANA token to both carry out transactions and power the system. 

In effect, this makes Decentraland a massive online NFT market, even if, when development started in 2015, such was not the founders’ intentions. Decentraland is a good example of something in the online world being a key player when it comes to doing something and it being the system’s users, rather than its founders, who decided what it was going to do. Perhaps appropriately, this is – depending on how you look at things – decentralisation of the internet in action. 

Anyway, MANA had a very strong year in 2021, opening the year at $0.07825 and closing it at $3.27, a rise of more than 4,000%. But investors and potential investors expecting a repeat performance in 2022 look to have been disappointed so far, as the overall market has fallen, with the MANA price of $1.02 on 13 May representing a 68% drop since the start of the year.

This is far worse than the losses in the cryptocurrency market overall, but either way it is still the the largest play-to-earn crypto out there, as well as being one of the largest metaverse tokens, with a market cap of around $1.9bn

The Sandbox (SAND)

SAND is the native metaverse token of The Sandbox. This is an online world that allows players to create and trade their own NFTs in-game. SAND, which is an ERC-20 token operating on the Ethereum blockchain, can be used to buy online parcels of land and interact with the NFTs. It can also be staked for certain privileges within The Sandbox system.

The SAND whitepaper says the token can give holders voting rights on key elements, such as Foundation grant attributions to content and game creators, and feature prioritisation on the platform roadmap.

Owners of SAND can vote themselves, or delegate voting rights to other players of their choice. SAND can also be staked, with staked coins giving their stakers the chance to make money from the land they own, as well as getting items associated with creating in-game NFTs, called ASSETS.

A small slice – 5% – of the total SAND spent throughout the game is siphoned off, with half going to a staking pool and the other half going to the foundation that runs the game. As of 13 May 2022, SAND had a market cap of around $1.7bn making it the third-largest metaverse cryptocurrency, and the second-largest metaverse pay-to-earn coin.

It is worth noting, though, that Sandbox’s price at the time – around $1.40 – was down more than 75% from where it was at the end of 2021. 

Someone playing The Sandbox game
The Sandbox is an online world that allows players to create and trade their own NFTs – Photo: Shutterstock


Immutable x (IMX)

Another coin that is worth looking at in the context of the metaverse is immutable x (IMX). This metaverse token is different from the likes of SAND because it does not support a specific metaverse. There is no Immutable world to go into and explore. Rather, it aims to support a system that allows people to create and trade their own NFTs using its protocol.

The network, which was set up by Australian brothers James and Robbie Ferguson, is designed to set up a scalable solution for NFT traders on the Ethereum blockchain. At present, a lot of NFT trading can be pretty slow but if people use the Immutable protocol, that should speed things up.

The token itself is used for governance, so holders can vote on proposals related to how the system is run, together with staking. People can stake their tokens to earn rewards – 20% of all transaction fees on the Immutable network are paid in the IMX metaverse coin.

The Immutable X system announced a partnership with the OpenSea NFT marketplace in January 2022, which is positive news for the token, even if it is not one of the best known right now. The coin has certainly garnered some interest, raising $200m in a funding round in March 2022, while in May it announced it was to work with blockchain game PlanetQuest to launch the sale of a series of NFTs.

On 13 May, it had a market cap of around $210m. Since the start of the year, the IMX has fallen around 80% to around $0.95 as the metaverse market dropped.

The immutable x logo shown on a computer screen and smartphone
The immutable x coin supports NFT trading – Photo: Shutterstock


Ultra (UOS)

The Ultra (UOS) cryptocurrency is designed to work in a games distribution system based on the blockchain. What makes it a bit different is that people do not just have the opportunity to buy games from developers and play them – they can also resell their games.

The system’s website says: “Ultra is the first entertainment platform providing a variety of games industry services under a single roof, accessible through a single log-in: discover, buy, and play games, watch live-streaming feeds, interact with your favourite influencers, participate in contests, compete in tournaments and much more.”

Ultra was set up in an attempt to break what it calls the “walled garden” – the control of gaming content put on gaming platforms – by making things more decentralised and giving people choice and flexibility.

The UOS metaverse token is used to pay for advertising and to trade and take part in beta testing and bug reporting. It is also used in the system’s loyalty programme. Ultra will offer all prices in US dollars in an attempt to deal with potential inflationary problems, even if transactions take place in UOS.

The coin’s market cap on 13 May was $115.5m. This represented a loss from 18 March, when it stood at $320m. The ultra crypto was worth about $0.38, down 75% from $1.57 at the start of the year, although that has to be taken in the context of a declining metaverse segment and crypto market overall.

White and purple Ultra (UOS) logo
Ultra (UOS) is designed to work in a games distribution system – Credit: Ultra


Illuvium (ILV)

Another token that’s worth examining is Illuvium (ILV). This metaverse token might be described as a classic metaverse crypto. The coin itself helps power Illuvium, which is an online role-playing game with a fantasy theme.

The game is built on the Ethereum blockchain and operates as a crossover between an open world experience and a player-vs-player battle game. People can find, defeat and collect creatures called Illuvials. These beasts are then used to create an army that battles other players’ forces.

What makes this game different is that while the Illuvials are NFTs, there are other ways for people to make crypto in the game. For instance, a player can earn ILV by using a series of decentralised applications (dApps) that include a yield farm and a decentralised crypto exchange.

However, people can still sell their Illuvials in the game’s marketplace, although the game claims to be less focused on crypto and more on gameplay. This could make it a good one for people who like games but are not fully in the crypto space. On 13 May 2022, the ILV market cap was $206m, down from $342m on 18 March. ILV was worth around $321, down nearly 70% from the start of the year, when it was worth $1,017.60.

One thing potential investors might be concerned about is the system’s security. It is worth noting that, on 31 December 2021, hackers targeted the Illuvium Discord server, leading to around $150,000 worth of losses. In January, a vulnerability in Illuvium’s staking contracts, which allowed attackers to mint their own ILV, was discovered. While these issues have been fixed, it is worth bearing such security flaws in mind.  

A scene from the Illuvium (ILV) game
Illuvium (ILV) is a classic metaverse crypto – Credit: Illuvium.io


Vulcan Forged (PYR)

The Vulcan Forged (PYR) metaverse coin is a system not too dissimilar to GALA, where the platform contains a range of games for people to play. The network’s main difference is that the games are all, in one way or another, based on Greek mythology.

There is VulcanVerse, which gives people the chance to buy, sell and develop plots of land. There is also Anvil, which allows people to put up NFTs free of charge. Bezerk is a collectable card game that uses NFTs from both Anvil and VulcanVerse. There is also Frenzy, which enables players to create their own battle tournaments.

The PYR metaverse token is paid as a reward for winners of Frenzy tournaments. It is also used for governance of the system and to pay for items within the Volcan Forged network. As of 13 May, it had a market cap of around $125, down from 18 March when it stood at a little over $200m. The token was worth $5.06, down more than 65% from the start of the year, when it was worth $14.73.

The Vulcan Forged logo
The Vulcan Forged platform contains a range of games for people to play – Credit: Vulcanforged.com


Axie Infinity (AXS)

There is an argument that Axie Infinity (AXS) is the play-to-earn metaverse token that really got the ball rolling. If you were going to explain it quickly and simply, you could well use the phrase “Pokemon on the blockchain”.

Players of this game, which was set up by Vietnamese start-up Sky Mavis, compete to collect individual cards representing cartoon monsters. These creatures, called Axies, fight each other, with the winner getting rewards in the forms of one of two tokens, SLP and AXS. SLP, short for Small Love Potion, is much more common, but AXS is more valuable and has more uses. This means AXS is linked with the game as a whole and is traded on a lot of exchanges. 

Every Axie is an NFT, which means that each one is unique, so there is a market for them within the game, which gives players the opportunity to make cryptocurrency and, by extension, real world money. 

The game has a very large player base, with reports of nearly three million active daily users in late 2021. It first grabbed the people’s attention in 2020 when there were reports – admittedly, reports written by the director of a consulting firm that represents play-to-earn games in the Asia Pacific region, which may cause the more thoughtful cryptocurrency enthusiast to question the reports – that an unspecified number of people in the Philippines were supplementing their incomes through playing Axie Infinity.

Now, the cryptoverse moved on from this news – partly because the cryptoverse is always looking for new things and partly because it was never quite established how widespread people making money through playing the game was – Axie Infinity got attention and, at one time, AXS was the biggest metaverse coin out there. That has changed a little as other tokens came along to take over, but as of 13 May 2022, it had a market cap of around $1.47bn, down from 18 March, when it had a market cap of just under $3bn. 

Over the course of 2022 so far, the coin has fallen nearly 75% from $93.30 to around $24.20.

Enjin (ENJ)

Finally, let’s take a look at Enjin. In some ways, Enjin is not unlike Decentraland. It was initially designed as a gaming platform in 2009, the year that Bitcoin was launched and long before cryptocurrency became ’big’ in any meaningful sense. However, by 2017, the system was looking for new ways to fund itself and decided to go down the crypto route, thus leading to the birth of ENJ. 

By 2022, Enjin had changed from its initial vision to being a place where game developers can, at least in theory, develop, trade, monetise and market NFTs. The ENJ token, which like most metaverse cryptos is based on the Ethereum blockchain, is used to both buy and sell non-fungible tokens on the network, but also to create NFTs.

How it does this is that, in order to create an NFT on Enjin, developers have to hold ENJ. Conversely, anyone can break down an NFT in return for ENJ.

In March 2022, Enjin announced that Efinity, a system operating on the Polkadot blockchain network, was going live. This parachain project is designed to play host to more than 100 new games, with the first, CryptoBlades, already hosting 1.1 million users. This news, which had been in the pipeline for some time, led to ENJ enjoying a market cap of just under $1.2bn on 18 March 2022. 

By 13 May, though, that cap had slipped as the crypto market dipped following the depegging of TetherUSD and the collapse of LUNA, and the market cap stood at about $652m. The coin was worth about $0.74, down more than 70% from the year’s start figure of $2.58.

That’s our look at metaverse coins concluded. Just remember, before you invest, do your own research – prices can go down as well as up – and never invest more than you can afford to lose.

FAQs

According to CoinMarketCap, there were 230 metaverse coins on 18 March 2022. This number can change, as new tokens are put on and taken off the market all the time.

Possibly. Although if you do, you will have to do your own research. Remember that prices can go down as well as up, and never invest more money than you can afford to lose.

You can buy them on a range of exchanges, although not all exchanges will trade in metaverse crypto. For instance, you can buy Decentraland’s MANA token on Currency.com.

Further reading

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