Throughout the history of Bitcoin, games have played a recurring role in the leading cryptocurrency’s adoption. Online dice-based betting game Satoshi Dice was one of the earliest and most popular game applications that gained traction in the Bitcoin space. Just three weeks after its official launch on bitcointalk.org in April 2012, Satoshi Dice all but singlehandedly facilitated an all-time high in Bitcoin transactions.
Satoshi’s Place played a similar role for Bitcoin’s Lightning Network in 2018. The online multiplayer game allows anyone in the world to paint on a virtual graffiti wall by changing pixels through Lightning payments. Satoshi’s Place became the first application to provide real traction in the early stages of the Lightning Network, processing over 58.8 million sats by August 2019.
Since then, multiple new Lightning games have hit the market, ranging from mini games for mobile users to Mario Kart-style racing competitions. All of them implement Lightning payments in their games to not only explore the new opportunities made available on Bitcoin’s layer two, but also gamify the approach to Lightning for new users.
Here are our picks for the top 5 Lightning Network games of 2020.
Bitcoin Bounce is a mobile game in which players compete to travel as far as possible on the “blockchain.” Users can earn power-ups to improve their scores and collect tickets on their bouncing journey in order to enter regular prize draws and win satoshis. The app uses the Lightning Network to allow players to instantly cash out prizes. Since launching its beta in January of 2020, Bitcoin Bounce has awarded over 10 million satoshis (approximately $1,050 USD at press time) through 121,000 transactions.
Thndr Games, the team behind Bitcoin Bounce, also recently launched a new Lightning-based mobile game called Turbo ‘84, which requires players to avoid obstacles by rapidly changing lanes in a race car.
Lightnite is a third-person shooter battle royale with minimalistic low-poly designed characters. Lightnite has built their game around Bitcoin as their in-game currency: players earn sats through their gameplay by either fragging an opponent, picking up a unique item, or winning a round. Users can also trade skins with each other. Lightning balances update in real time and are instantly withdrawn upon exiting the game.
Bitcoin Rally is a racing game reminiscent of Mario Kart. Players race against each other on a race track, collecting coins to throw at opponents and breaking mystery boxes to gain power-ups. Those who rank 1st, 2nd, or 3rd win prizes denominated in satoshis which can be instantly withdrawn. Bitcoin Rally further adds a unique element by breaking down the “4th wall” in-game and allowing viewers to drop messages and power-ups for players through Lightning Network payments.
Bitcoin Rally developer Zebedee primarily focuses on building software development kits and API’s for other Lightning Network game developers.
Bitcoin Bounty Hunt is a first-person shooter in which players fight one another to collect “bounties” which are later converted into bitcoin. There are multiple ways to earn bounties, such as finding them in the game world, killing other players, watching advertisements, and receiving them from viewers who pay to drop them in-game. Players can also buy skins for their characters via Lightning. What makes Bitcoin Bounty Hunt unique is that the game offers a non-custodial experience by including a Lightning wallet upon download. The game has processed over 500,000 transactions since March this year.
Bitcoin Bounty Hunt was created by the team at Donner Labs, which is leading the development of a non-custodial, open-source Lightning Network node built specifically for gaming purposes. Donner Labs also previously developed another Lightning game called Donner Dungeon.
EscapeQR is a simplistic but addictive browser-based game in which users attempt to escape a maze in the shape of a QR code. The map is modeled after the Lightning invoice that is paid in order to start the game. Once the maze appears, users can move around using a directional pad and break through walls via mouse click. Other dimensions of the game include the ability to collect Bitcoin “stacks” to extend their time, and the addition of a villain chasing them in the form of a dollar icon named “Fiat.”
The team behind EscapeQR includes Keith Mukai, Jason Don, and Sanity Crypto. The trio built the game as a passion project in anticipation of the Bitcoin2020 conference, as well as to help the adoption of the Lightning Network.