Congratulations. You’re interested in blockchain technology. Most people’s knowledge of blockchain technology doesn’t go much further than “something to do with Bitcoin”. So you’re an early adopter already. But you’re reading this article too, which means you’re interested in decentralized gaming, one of the best applications for blockchain technology.

You’re in the land of opportunity

Here’s the vision: decentralized gaming means games where you and only you own everything you earn, loot, buy, take, and steal in a game. And with own, I mean really own. No one can take it away from you and no one can change its attributes. If the game you got your items from stops existing, your items will still be there, all yours. Pretty good, isn’t it?

But it gets better. All those items? They’re worth something. Decentralized games can have an economy that runs on cryptocurrency tokens. These tokens can be exchanged for real-world greenbacks. That’s right, if Diablo III were a decentralized game, your Assailing Axe of Incineration could earn you top dollar. Finally, you can monetize your wicked gaming skills.

So really, nice choice looking into decentralized gaming. You’re so ahead of the curve, it’s ridiculous. Of course, being ahead of the curve also means that playing a DGame won’t always be smooth sailing. There’s no trodden path here; you’re in prototype territory. So don’t expect a Call of Duty experience, because some DGames will be rough around the edges.

That’s why we created this guide. It will set you up for Ethereum DGames. It will help you install the best wallet for DGaming, help you get some funds into that wallet, and help you navigate the store to choose which DGame you want to play.

Why Ethereum?

Two blockchain platforms have gathered most momentum when it comes to DGames: Ethereum and EOS. Ethereum was the first blockchain platform that developers could build decentralized apps on. It still has the biggest developer community as of today and so also the most DGames. But it’s not all good. Ethereum is quite a slow blockchain and it requires DGamers to pay a small fee (usually a few cents) for every transaction that’s recorded on the blockchain.

EOS, however, is a much faster blockchain that doesn’t require you to pay a transaction fee. Instead, you’ll need to stake some of your EOS to play an EOS DGame. Your staked funds won’t be accessible until you decide to un-stake them, but at least you’re not spending those funds on transaction fees.

This being said, while the Ethereum transaction fees can be a nuisance, it won’t cost you all that much and the best Ethereum DGames work around these fees by taking their game’s mechanics off-chain. Additionally, Ethereum has the most and arguably the best DGames, which is why I highly recommend starting with Ethereum DGames. That's not to say there's not fun to be had with EOS, but we will cover those later.

Installing an Ethereum Wallet

To begin with, you’ll need an Ethereum wallet. There’s really only one choice for Ethereum DGames: MetaMask. It’s the one lightweight wallet that nearly all Ethereum DGames support. Some DGames might support other wallets, but they’ll all support MetaMask.

MetaMask is a browser extension that works on Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Brave. From your respective browser, find MetaMask in the web store and install it.

The MetaMask Chrome extension

Once the extension is installed, you’ll want to create a new wallet. You’ll need to create a password of at least 8 characters. Make sure it’s safe, because it’s what gives direct access to your money. Strongly consider using a password manager such as LastPass to store this password.

Next, you’ll receive a secret backup phrase. And this is where a cryptocurrency wallet starts to differ from a regular bank account. You’re entirely in charge of your own money. If you forget your password and you can’t furnish your backup phrase, there’s no way you can get access to your MetaMask account. There’s no central authority you can contact to plead for help.

If I were Spiderman’s uncle, I’d say: with great power comes great responsibility. So write down that backup phrase and store it once, twice, thrice. Don’t you dare lose it. As an extra security measure, MetaMask will ask you to recreate the backup phrase yourself. That’s how important it is.

Write down your secret backup phrase and store it where you’ll find it

And that’s it! You’ve set up your MetaMask account. If you click on “View Account” you’ll see a QR code and a random string of letters and numbers. That’s your Ethereum address. If you already have some Ether (Ethereum’s cryptocurrency, also abbreviated as ETH), that’s the address you’d send it to.

Ethereum address

Buying Ether

However, if you don’t have any Ether yet, you’ll need to buy some. Only a few exchanges allow you to exchange fiat currency for cryptocurrencies. The best-known and most user-friendly exchange is Coinbase, which I recommend you sign up for. You’ll need to go through their KYC process, which might take a few hours, but you’ll need to do this only once.

Sign up for Coinbase

Once you’ve signed up, I recommend you use Coinbase Pro to buy your cryptocurrencies. It uses the same sign-in as Coinbase, but with significantly lower fees. Depending on your geographical region, you can send USD, EUR, or GBP to your Coinbase Pro account through a wire transfer.

Depositing EUR into my Coinbase Pro account

When the money has arrived into your Coinbase Pro account, you select the relevant currency pair (which will be ETH-USD, ETH-EUR, or ETH-GBP) and place a market order. The markets are all liquid enough for the exchange to happen in seconds.

An ETH-EUR market order

Once you have your Ether, you withdraw it from Coinbase Pro by sending it to your Ethereum MetaMask wallet. From the “My Wallets” tab in Coinbase Pro, choose to withdraw ETH. Your destination is the random string of number that’s your MetaMask wallet address. Choose your amount and voila, it’s sent off. Give it half an hour for the Ether to arrive in your MetaMask wallet.

Sending ETH to your MetaMask wallet

Alternatively, you can buy Ether directly through MetaMask itself, by clicking on the “Deposit” button from the browser extension. You have three options:

Wyre allows you to exchange USD for ETH after you’ve signed up with them. However, it’s currently only available in the United States. CoinSwitch allows you to exchange USD for ETH and pay with Visa or Mastercard, but it requires a top-up of at least $60. ShapeShift allows you to exchange other cryptocurrencies for ETH inside the MetaMask browser extension.

I find $60 for CoinSwitch a bit steep, so I always go through Coinbase Pro. However, if $60 floats your boat just fine, then CoinSwitch through MetaMask is the easiest and fastest option to buy Ether.

Buying ETH through CoinSwitch

We’ve gone through the slowest and most cumbersome part and now we’re finally ready to play! Next up, you visit the DGaming Store and filter for Ethereum DGames. It’ll automatically rank all Ethereum DGames by the number of daily players. You can click on each game for a bit more information and for further links to their social media channels.

Filter for Ethereum DGames

This is where our DGaming reviews come in handy. If you browse to my author profile, you’ll find a bunch of reviews on Ethereum DGames. If I were to recommend a good Ethereum DGame to get started, I’d suggest either Blockchain Cuties or CryptoDozer.

Playing a DGame

Once you’ve chosen a DGame, signing up for an account should be relatively straightforward. MetaMask will pop up to connect your account to the DGame and every time you want to purchase an in-game asset with your ETH.

A MetaMask pop-up to connect to Blockchain Cuties

That’s it. You’re now entirely set up to play Ethereum DGames. Just like with traditional games, you’ll find that some DGames are significantly better than others. Unlike traditional games, you’ll find that some DGames are more expensive than others. Some DGames focus more on making their game fun, while others focus more on collecting digital assets (the so-called collectible games).

It’s now time for you to experiment with the kind of DGame you prefer. The DGaming Store is your tasting board. Choose your DGame and explore the creation of those who dare to disrupt.