Executive Summary

The Game

  • The browser-based game is built on Polygon and launched in June 2021.
  • The primary NFTs are the eponymous Raiders, which players collect and then use for running dungeon raids, questing, crafting, and dueling in PvP battles.
  • Additional NFTs of Mounts and MOBs can be used by players to improve passive earning capabilities.
  • Gameplay is largely automated, but it shows the potential to eventually play similarly to 8-bit RPGs like Dragon Quest.
  • The game is still quite early, with a few of the key defining features, permadeath of Raider NFTs and play-to-earn, not yet live.
  • The team is very active, communicating well on Discord, managing daily PvP tournaments, and running seasonal limited-time events.
  • Documentation of features and earning opportunities is poor, with inconsistent, scattered, and conflicting information.

The Players

  • The game is still early and small, with about 4,600 wallets owning at least one Raider, of which about 2,000 are active on a weekly basis.
  • Geographically, website traffic is primarily from Tier 1 countries, with the US, France, and Canada accounting for 50% of visitors.
  • Users are likely primarily investment-motivated due to a lack of play-to-earn features and very limited interactive gameplay so far.


  • $AURUM is the primary in-game currency that will eventually be the play-to-earn reward token and used in the planned in-game marketplace.
  • $RAIDER is the governance token, used for time-locked staking and as the reward for liquidity pool staking.
  • Raiders and Mounts are ERC-721 NFTs, while MOBs and Music are ERC-1155 NFTs.
  • A variety of additional ERC-20 tokens exist for crafting ingredients and items.

Future Plans

  • The big features of permadeath and play-to-earn are on the horizon following a recent backend tech update.
  • A Unity port is in the works.
  • Unlike some NFT projects, the team’s goals are more down-to-earth, focused on building out a great game without the world domination feel of other (over)ambitious projects.


  • Crypto Raiders is still quite early, which limits the amount of reliable data that can be used for predictive analysis.
  • The team is doing a lot of things well, showing a good understanding of tokenomics, actively engaging with the community, and doing regular code updates.
  • Permadeath could be an incredibly exciting feature, especially for streamers, but it could also backfire if it is used too aggressively as a burn mechanism.
  • Revenue from for-fun players doesn’t yet exist and will likely be necessary over time to support investors and play-to-earn users.


Crypto Raiders is an early-stage browser-based RPG that runs on Polygon (a layer 2 scaling solution for Ethereum), notably featuring permadeath of its Raider character NFTs. Players send their Raider NFTs on quests and dungeon raids to collect loot, level up, and (soon) earn tokens. There are also two other gameplay NFTs: Mounts, which give bonuses to questing speed, and MOBs, which are player-owned enemies that will eventually appear in the Endless Dungeon and give rewards for defeating other players’ Raiders. Gameplay is largely automatic and passive for now, but it’s built on top of a full set of RPG stats, gear, and skills, meaning more depth is likely to come.

Showing fewer than 5,000 wallets owning a Raider, the audience for the game is quite small, but it is growing steadily and is highly active, with 40% of those wallets active weekly. Thanks to incentivized liquidity pool token staking, the total value locked (TVL) in the liquidity pools is over $20M USD. Another $35M of Crypto Raiders’ governance token ($RAIDER) is time-lock staked, mostly for 12 months. Based on floor prices, the three NFTs have a combined market cap of $12.5M (an underestimation of the total). The team has also wisely maintained tight control over the NFT supply, only allowing players to recruit (mint) new NFTs during limited recruitment events. This all suggests a good understanding of some of the economic risks and requirements of blockchain-based games. The team’s hope for permadeath being the primary burn mechanism for the NFTs is a bit concerning, however.

The game’s core features of permadeath and play-to-earn are not live yet, but the team’s active engagement with the community and regular feature updates are encouraging. The team is managing an active Discord, running seasonal limited-time events, and providing weekly updates. This activity, it should be noted, has led to some organizational issues, especially evident in the inconsistent, scattered, and at times conflicting documentation

The features planned for Crypto Raiders should continue to provide players with more ways to participate and engage with the game. Rudimentary versions of questing for ingredients, crafting, endless dungeon diving, and PvP are already in place and have expansions planned. Plus, the PvP system is quite active, with daily tournaments run with token prizes. 

The biggest questions going forward for the project are “How will the audience respond to the high-stakes drama of permadeath?” and “Can the team generate enough revenue from players seeking fun to support the aims of investors and play-to-earn users?” In order to answer these questions and get a deeper understanding of the project, this essay explores the game’s history, KPIs, game design, tokenomics, future plans, and more.

History of Crypto Raiders

Crypto Raiders defines itself as “a utility-based NFT RPG game that draws inspiration from Zed.Run and World of Warcraft.” It’s been live since June 2021 and has quickly risen into the top 20 NFT projects on Polygon over the course of the last 6 months. Even though the project has very humble beginnings and the Raider NFTs started off at a floor price of 0.01ETH, the floor price has increased by 3.3x, which says a lot.

While there isn’t a rich trove of information out there about Crypto Raiders’ history, our interview with co-founder Nicholas Kneuper provides some key insight into how this project and team came to be.

(From left to right) Nicholas “Captain Kix” Kneuper and “Tyrael” | Source: Twitter

Gathering from his LinkedIn profile, Nicholas has a background in digital marketing, but his entrepreneurial roots run deep. In 2012, he co-founded a clothing brand company Electric Styles straight out of college. His experience there included raising a $200K seed funding round, pitching on and rejecting a Shark Tank offer, and growing the business from $50K/year in 2012 to $5M/year in 2016. He later founded Ecom.ly in 2017, which is a digital marketing agency that managed >$12M in ad spend during the same year. Both companies are still active today.

“Tyrael,” on the other hand, is not fully “doxxed” and hence we cannot know for sure what his background looks like. That said, based on our interview, we feel it’s safe to say that Nicholas and Tyrael are long-time friends (~15 years) and Tyrael has a strong coding background.

With this duo introduced, the story of Crypto Raiders’ inception can be quickly recapped:

  • Even though Nicholas has known about the crypto space for a long time, he dove in more heavily during March 2020 and during the pandemic.
  • During early 2021, Nicholas learned about NFTs and quickly saw the potential of the concept, especially in the gaming space. This led him to trade NFTs pretty heavily over the course of last year, while also engaging in a few consulting gigs to help other entrepreneurs with their NFT projects.
  • While performing these consulting projects, he not only got an inside view on how to go about building a NFT gaming project but also gathered the confidence to build one of his own.
  • That is when he started pitching new NFT project ideas (at least one a month) to Tyrael, but Tyrael wasn’t very enthusiastic just yet.
  • Finally, during May 2021, the idea of NFTs in gaming started to click for Tyrael too and he was on the same page as Nicholas. Both of them have been heavy RPG players in the past, and the use case of NFTs in RPG style gameplay made immediate sense.
  • This eventually led to the tables turning, Tyrael pitching the idea of Crypto Raiders to Nicholas, and they shortly after launched the project in June 2021. The team is currently heads down in building out more of the game while scaling up the team.

In terms of where the team and company are headed, it doesn’t seem like there are any grand plans other than continuing to expand the Crypto Raiders product and delivering on various roadmap items they’ve promised to the community. That in itself can be quite a tall order in today’s blockchain gaming landscape, since designing a blockchain game that has a long-term sustainable trading economy is not easy. But it is also clear from our interview with Nicholas that the Crypto Raiders team sees in-game economic sustainability as a north star and is committed to delivering on it over the course of the product roadmap.

An Early State

Before going too far into the analysis, it must be said that the game is very clearly in an alpha state, earlier than what many free-to-play games would be willing to consider a “minimum viable product.” In fact, the game is marketed as “play-to-earn” but the core play-to-earn feature (raids) doesn’t give token rewards yet. 

There is also a dearth of helpful documentation and a fair amount of conflicting information. The lack of a single, complete, up-to-date reference for players and investors to refer to is rather striking for a project that has over $20M staked in its liquidity pool and a $10M+ floor market cap of NFTs. 

As a prime example, in the top navigation of the website is a “Guides” category, which results in this screen:

Source: cryptoraiders.xyz, March 16, 2022

The FAQ exists but is quite sparse; the entire “Recruiting” category contains only a single entry, which itself consists of only 2 sentences and an out-of-date table. The team’s blog puts out weekly updates, but much of the older material has changed since it was originally published and thus can’t be relied upon for current information. The Discord channel seems to be the best place to get up-to-date information, and while the developers get credit for being very active, this is hardly an effective reference guide. 

This lack of consistency creates some very real problems. For example, we purchased a $300 USD MOB to test out the MOB features based on the information in their MOBs FAQ that states that MOB functionality would begin Feb 16, 2022. We were quite surprised to discover that there is no functionality for MOBs in the game yet, despite being a month after that date. 

(help.cryptoraiders.xyz, March 16, 2022)

The game also has multiple “coming soon” sections and labels throughout, some of the UI elements are borderline unusable, and quite a number of the core features of the game’s pitch (including play-to-earn and permadeath) have yet to show up. 

Live-service games are always a work in progress, but inconsistent documentation in a major NFT game isn’t excusable. Regardless, the early state of the game is an important context as we start to look more in depth at the various features and economic systems that currently exist and that are planned.

Audience and KPIs

Crypto Raiders is a newer game that still sports a small audience, with only about 4,600 current wallets that own at least one of the Raider NFTs. We look at Raider NFTs as the audience measure since at least one Raider is required to play the game. 

This wallet count has grown fairly steadily over the past 7 months, with a clear jump in the growth rate in January.

Unlike most other blockchain games that we’ve reviewed, the geographic distribution of traffic to cryptoraiders.xyz is primarily characterized by Tier 1 countries. Here’s a look at the traffic share of the top 5 countries over the past 3 months.

That pairing of non-volatile growth and Tier 1 dominance is a good sign for an early game; it suggests a “real” audience growth that isn’t fueled primarily by aggressive speculators and play-to-earn farmers. Granted, the audience is still very small, but it’s a good start.

We can also look at “churn,” in this case defined as wallets that at some point owned a Raider but no longer do. There have been about 1,350 churned wallets, and plotting them by the last owned date we see that it parallels the new wallets overall. This is encouraging since there doesn’t appear to be any sudden abandoning by owners, instead seeing a fairly steady percentage of new wallets churning out over time. 

The distribution of Raiders among wallets is, as one would expect, concentrated near the top, with 10% of wallets owning about 70% of all the Raiders.

About 55% of all owner wallets have 3 or fewer Raiders. The competitive side of the game sees no real advantage to having more than a couple of Raiders, so these wallets are more likely people engaged in the game than investor types. 

So the total audience is rather small, but how active is that audience? In this case, it does appear to be reasonably active. The chart below is a minimum of weekly active wallets (based on participation in the questing feature). Given that only about 4,600 wallets own a Raider, weekly participation has a strong showing of around 40% of all existing wallets. Granted, this is an early “golden cohort” of users who are likely to be extra engaged, but it’s a good sign that such a large percentage of users are highly active.

Game Design Breakdown

Crypto Raiders’ gameplay is somewhat simple in the current form, consisting primarily of pseudo-interactive RPG-style battles. Think Dragon Quest I, except that your only option is “Attack”. These battles happen in single-player raids carried out on a weekly basis, as well as in PvP features that are starting to be fleshed out.

(there’s also a “run away” option, but currently it’s the same as losing)

As noted earlier though, the game is still relatively new and in very active development, so we’ll look at both the current state as well as some planned features. 

There are two primary fungible tokens in the game: $AURUM (the “game” token) and $RAIDER (the governance token). The play-to-earn elements will eventually allow players to earn $AURUM rewards for a variety of activities.

At the moment, the core gameplay loop has two sides to it: 1) the questing (passive grinding) side and 2) the competitive (active battles) side. 

Currently the only way to directly earn $AURUM is by placing in PvP tournaments, so that’s the closest to a “play-to-earn” element that exists right now. The most engaged players are likely to hold on to a couple of Raiders for PvP and then have the rest focus on questing, with everyone participating in raids weekly.

Weekly raids and the daily endless dungeon are ways to level up Raiders with XP and gain better gear, but these modes don’t have any play-to-earn elements yet. Questing is a variant of staking that allows players to assign Raiders to quests to find crafting ingredients passively.

The Raiders

A game called Crypto Raiders would be nonsense without Raiders, so that’s where we’ll start. In order to play the game a user needs to have at least one Raider in his or her wallet. At time of writing, Raiders have a floor price of 0.035Ξ (or about $90 USD), putting the entry fee at a moderate level – more than something like Splinterlands or ZED.RUN but well below where Axie Infinity was in 2021 and where The Sandbox has been recently. 

Fear the mighty Granpalf!

These Raiders are the characters that players directly use to fight battles. They have a fairly standard set of RPG characteristics:

  • Generation. It currently ranges from 1 to 5, with Gen 6 appearing soon. The generation does not affect game stats, but earlier generations do get a bonus to game currency ($AURUM) earnings (Gen 1s get +30%, Gen 2 +25%, etc. down to Gen 6 +5%). (note: it appears that the original “Genesis” label was converted to “Gen 1” around Sep 2021.)
  • Race. The race is a purely aesthetic difference for characters. The human races are the most common, while other races like Cyborg and Dark Elf are quite rare. With no gameplay differences, though, this affects NFT value only as much as people value them for collectability.
  • Stats. There are 6 stats (Strength, Intelligence, Agility, Wisdom, Charm, and Luck). These all start at 0 and can have points assigned to them as the Raider levels up. The stats affect all manner of calculations in-game, from damage to dodge rates to critical hit damage.
  • Gear. All of the gear a Raider has collected stays with it, detailed in its NFT data. Gear is the primary way of increasing a Raider’s stats, in addition to enabling one usable skill (such as “Blind” or “Stone Skin”). The user experience for gear is extremely rough right now. With no way to sell, or even trash, gear, as well as no way to sort or filter gear, a single character can end up with 100+ pieces of gear cluttering up their inventory, and the player must painstakingly sift through them trying to find good combinations. This will hopefully improve in the future, but it’s a significant pain point at the moment.
  • Name & Appearance. Each Raider has a name, as well as some appearance options (face, hair) that differ by race. In all cases, however, these are adjustable at any time and not permanently written to the NFT.

A Raider can “recruit” a new Raider for an $AURUM fee, and new Raiders can be minted during recruitment events, which are controlled by the Crypto Raiders team. When an event is live, each Raider can recruit a single new Raider, and all new Raiders have the same generation number (regardless of the generation of the recruiting Raider). By limiting minting to events that they control, the Crypto Raiders team has given themselves a good lever to keep the NFT supply tight until they are ready to let it expand.

The Other NFTs

There are three other NFT types in Crypto Raiders:

  • Mounts. The only other NFT with current in-game utility, a mount can be assigned to a Raider to improve the Raider’s speed when questing (a staking-like passive resource earning activity). They come in Common (floor of 0.2Ξ) and Epic (floor of 0.32Ξ) rarities, with Common providing a 50% boost and Epics a 100% boost. The details of these boosts will be discussed later within the Tokenomics analysis.
  • MOBs. When a Raider takes on an Endless Dungeon, it will face off against player-owned enemies known as MOBs (floor of 0.13Ξ). While there is no further functionality at this point, MOBs are planned to eventually provide rewards to owners whenever they successfully kill Raiders in the Endless Dungeon. Notably, these are ERC-1155 tokens rather than ERC-721. This may be due simply to the ability to be semi-fungible, since MOBs were originally given out as “claim passes” that were converted to MOBs later.
  • Music. Rounding out the 3 Ms, we have the odd one out: Music. The Crypto Raiders team crowd-sourced its music, auctioning off each of the 15 tracks as NFTs, with 75% of the auction amount going to the creator. The plan is to eventually give both the creator and the owner of the NFT rewards of game currency ($AURUM) based on how often that track is played by players in the game. These are also ERC-1155 tokens, though the reason is unclear.


Currently Crypto Raiders has two primary gameplay modes: raids and duels.

Raids, sometimes also referred to as “Missions” in the game, are the single-player (PvE) content and are how most players are likely to engage with the game at this point. Every Raider gets 5 free raids per week, and additional raids can be run with keys.

Each raid has a recommended character level, with increasing difficulties currently up to Level 10. Completing a raid will yield gear and XP for the Raider. The first two raids are completely non-interactive; the Raider will automatically walk through the dungeon for a while and eventually find a treasure chest.

The later raids have a simple, pseudo-interactive battle at the end of each. Players have only two choices of “Fight” and “Run Away,” though “Run Away” currently appears to just be a way of giving up and receiving no rewards. Presumably once permadeath is implemented the Run Away option will be an attempt to escape with your life at the cost of losing rewards, but for now it seems to be a poor option to ever use. If a Raider has a skill item equipped, that skill will appear as an option in battle as a one-time use per raid.

According to early blog posts, players will be able to earn $AURUM by completing raids, but so far that is not the case.


Dueling adds a competitive (PvP) element to the game. At the moment, the system is more of a proof of concept than anything else, used only for manual matchmaking and without any rewards or stakes. However, the team has cleverly used Discord to engage players in daily tournaments, keeping score manually as players stream their battles. It’s a bit “low tech,” but the community seems excited by it, and $1,000 USD in daily $AURUM rewards for winners doesn’t hurt either. Eventually Duels are likely to be much more fleshed out, but the team has proven to be scrappy, making good use of even this bare-bones implementation.

There also appears to be some depth to putting together an ideal build for duels, and the Crypto Raiders team is aware of the strategies and actively shifts the meta to keep things more interesting and varied. While this likely isn’t yet something that would be compelling to a broader audience, this at least hints at future potential.

The Endless Dungeon

In addition to the standard raids, there is an Endless Dungeon that Raiders get one free entry every day in.

While the core battles have the same pseudo-interactive combat as raids, there is an added roguelite-like decision after defeating each MOB in which the player can select between two boosts (a small heal, a 10% increase to damage, a 10% increase to defense, etc.) to try to improve his or her chances on the run. Currently Raiders can find loot in the dungeon and get awarded “points.” That said, the value of points is unknown, with the developers only teasing it in the official Discord channel, saying “Eventually, we intend for these points to be used for many different things!”

The Endless Dungeon is inhabited by MOBs, which as mentioned earlier are NFT creatures owned by players. When a MOB kills a Raider, the owner of the MOB gets $AURUM (and originally some dropped items, but that doesn’t appear to be the case any more), or at least that’s the plan. Rewards were supposed to go live mid-February but as of writing still don’t exist. Once implemented, MOBs could become a good source of passive income, but for now we can only speculate as to the returns.


One of the most unusual and highly-advertised features of Crypto Raiders is permadeath. Riding the wave of popularity of the roguelike genre and heavy-loss games (like the recent blockbuster Elden Ring), Crypto Raiders has designed an actual loss mechanic into its blockchain game. 

So far, permadeath is primarily only a planned feature, though a scan through OpenSea does reveal some dead Raiders. How they died is unclear, but an upcoming tournament does plan to kill all entrants except the winner (and with $AURUM prizes for the top 16 players).

Source: Opensea

The eventual plan for permadeath is to have some dungeons that have a chance of the Raider perishing. Participation in these dungeons would be optional, but presumably they would come with more substantial rewards than no-risk dungeons. It’s unclear how this will work; the gameplay would suggest that it would be based on failing to successfully escape a losing battle, but in an early blog post the creators state that the odds will be 1% – 5% and that the player will know the odds before starting the dungeon.

The creators have touted permadeath as a “burn mechanic,” even saying they could “increase or decrease the character and gear burn rate to respond to market demands.” It is good to see creators thinking ahead regarding NFT inflation, but permadeath seems like a risky (and perhaps insufficient) way to manage this. 

It’s one thing to have a mechanism in place to encourage intentional burning of NFTs for a reward (perhaps in exchange for one of the game’s fungible tokens). Splinterlands does this by setting a burn rate for each card, so that if the price of the card goes below that rate, players are incentivized to just burn the card rather than trying to sell it. But permadeath is a very different beast. Unlike an intentional burn, in which the player makes a conscious decision to remove an NFT, a burn due to permadeath is a negative experience, one that can lead to frustration, or worse. Planning on that being the primary way of burning NFTs seems unwise, especially if the intent is to “increase the burn rate” (increase chances of involuntarily losing NFTs) as the market demands.

That said, while we’re dubious of permadeath being an effective mechanism for controlling the supply of NFTs, we do think it has potential to be an extremely effective marketing strategy. Permadeath is used as a mechanic in games to create tension and drama; contrasting with most games that have numerous save and restore points, permadeath (or the softer Souls-like loss of time and progress) represents an actual loss and thus, with increased stakes, the gameplay experience is heightened as well. 

Using this mechanic in an NFT game takes that emotional tension even further, representing not just a loss of time but a loss of money, of real value. That level of drama is something that is perfect for streamers in particular. Video titles like “I lost a $5,000 Crypto Raider in 30 seconds” will draw viewers and headlines alike and could represent at least a temporary edge for Crypto Raiders as it continues to scale its audience. It’s also worth noting that Crypto Raiders won’t be alone in experimenting with the permadeath mechanic; for example, Star Atlas, another hyped project, has teased similar possibilities (parts of space where if you die you permanently lose your ship).


With the core gameplay currently being limited both in interaction and time (due to the weekly “energy” system only giving 5 free raids per Raider per week, good for maybe 5 minutes of gameplay per Raider combined), the more passive elements are likely to draw a lot of focus. 

At the moment, the primary passive mechanic takes the form of the questing system and secondarily crafting. Questing is a pseudo-staking mechanic in which you send a Raider off on (currently) one of two quests.

While on a quest, the Raider will collect resources and gain Profession XP (in this case, Herbalism) over time. Quests are not time-locked, so the player can leave a Raider questing indefinitely (with the caveat that return time is proportional to the quest time).

Sending a Raider on a quest actually transfers ownership of the Raider to a Polygon contract, meaning you technically lose ownership of the Raider while it is gone and have to pay gas fees both to start the quest and to recall the Raider from the quest. Thankfully, this is on Polygon so the gas fees are trivially-low. 

There are currently only two resources available to collect: Grimweed Herbs and Eyes of Newt. That said, the token bridge page hints at a lot more resources coming in the future.

Quest engagement is already rather high. Out of the roughly 55k Raiders at time of writing, there are generally 15k – 25k on a quest on any given day, representing around 30% – 40% of all Raiders. This makes sense: with Raiders getting only 5 raids on a weekly basis there’s not much for them to do after running those raids, except running daily Endless Dungeons, which currently have minimal rewards.

This weekly play pattern is very evident when looking at the Raiders actively questing on a daily basis. Those dips are on Tuesday and Wednesday, and that happens because raid counts reset on Wednesdays. So players recall their Raiders from questing so they can use their raids and then send them back out.

When a player sends a Raider on a quest, it takes 25% as long as the quest lasts to return. So what is likely most often happening is players send Raiders out for 4-5 days, then recall them, taking another 1-1.5 days, giving them a day to go on weekly raids.

This pattern is even more clear if we look at the count of wallets who are either starting or finishing quests each day; the peaks here are the Wednesdays.

So what kind of an ROI can a player expect from questing? Given the 25% return time, a Raider can quest for 292 days per year. In our experience, a Raider can gain about 2.5 Grimweed / day, which works out to about $0.30 USD at current prices. Over 292 days, that’s $88 USD, which is almost precisely the current floor price of about $85 USD. A player might generate a ~100% yield in a year if prices hold, though with a project this early prices could move drastically, in either direction.

Quest Boosting with Mounts

As one of the four NFTs currently available in Crypto Raiders, Mounts provide a bonus to questing speed, which is both the speed at which Raiders find ingredients and the time it takes for them to return at the end of a quest.

A common mount adds 50% speed and epic mounts add 100%. So what is the utility of that bonus? We can take a quick look at the number of questing days per year a Raider can go on (assuming time to return), and apply a scale to the value of each day relative to a non-mounted day of questing.

With a current floor price of Ξ0.2 (about $550 USD) for a common and Ξ0.325 (about $850 USD) for an epic, you would need to make about $3.09 and $2.39 per non-mounted questing day, respectively, to break even in a year. That’s far above the actual earnings we saw of about $0.30 / day. Thus, buying mounts is highly speculative, lacking a realistic path to breaking even through in-game earning alone without a substantial increase in the value of Grimweed (or Eye of Newt, which has similar rates).


The purpose of all this questing, at least within the game’s mechanics, is to collect ingredients to craft items. At the moment, there is only one recipe for crafting: Minor Health Potions (MHP), at a cost of 3 / 2 / 3 of Grimweed / Eye of Newt / Aurum. These potions can then be used once per Raid to heal a Raider. Potions cannot, however, be used at all in PvP duels. 

For a rather interesting case of the market “incorrectly” valuing tokens, let’s look at what each of these tokens is worth. Historical data is harder to find on small-scale tokens, but here are the current exchange rates when swapping to $AURUM on Sushi.

So it costs an equivalent of 20.54 $AURUM of ingredients to create one MHP. Yet if you go to swap a MHP on Sushi, you get only 10.17 $AURUM for it, half the value of the ingredients. If those ingredients could be used for other crafting then there might be some explanation, but right now the market seems to be objectively undervaluing MHP. 

Even with that, players are still regularly crafting MHP, which would make sense if they were doing it for the utility, but we’re seeing players swapping large numbers (hundreds) of MHP for $AURUM too. All we can say for now is that players should likely only be crafting MHP if they’re specifically intending to be healing themselves in raids.


The game has run two limited-time events (LTEs) so far – one for Halloween and another for Christmas. In each case there was a unique, themed enemy as well as limited-time gear and prizes. LTEs can make or break live games; well-executed LTEs can substantially increase engagement, retention, and monetization, which is why they are a core part of the live-service strategy for nearly any successful free-to-play game. Seeing the team running these, even with the game in an early state, is very encouraging and suggests that the creators have good instincts or experience keeping audiences engaged and happy.

Tokenomics & Economy

Crypto Raiders utilizes Polygon for all of its tokens. This means there are low gas fees, which is good since some game activities (like sending a Raider on quest) do require paying gas fees. Polygon has, however, struggled with congestion recently, which affects all games on the chain, and Crypto Raiders was no exception. 

Following the fairly common model of blockchain games, Crypto Raiders uses two primary fungible tokens, a governance token ($RAIDER) and a game token ($AURUM). Additionally, Crypto Raiders has some tokenized game resources, currently including crafting items Grimweed, Eye of Newt, and Minor Health Potions.

$RAIDER is a fixed-supply token with a mint of 100M tokens. 83.4M $RAIDER is owned by a single wallet, presumably belonging to the game, representing the amount not yet out in circulation. Trading saw a spike in activity and price early January but then settled into a more stable rate.

$RAIDER price history – source: CoinGecko

Perhaps unsurprisingly, $AURUM’s history looks very similar to $RAIDER. $AURUM, though, is a variable-rate token, with an initial mint of 1 billion tokens. The team has expressed a desire to keep $AURUM’s price down closer to $0.01 USD, but it has been above $0.03 USD for a number of months now.

$AURUM price history – source: CoinGecko

The three gameplay NFTs currently are showing strong value, again especially considering the size of the audience and early state of the game. We can look at the “floor market capitalization”, which is a quick calculation that provides a significant underestimate of the total value of a NFT collection. We define this metric as the NFT floor price multiplied by the total number of items in the collection. (Note: we can’t do this for the Music NFTs, because the count is small and only one of the 15 is for sale on OpenSea; there isn’t a reliable floor price.)

Again, as a floor market cap this is a substantial but reliable underestimate. We can confidently say that the Crypto Raiders collection is worth well over $12.5M and likely a few multiples of that.

Staking Rewards

The gameplay elements in Crypto Raiders are quite simple, comparable to watching horses race in ZED RUN (which was one of the inspirations for Crypto Raiders according to the creators), and it’s far less complex than Splinterlands and even Axie Infinity. However, there are also a number of economic and passive mechanics built into the game that enable owners of multiple Raiders and $RAIDER currency to generate passive earnings with minimal maintenance or interaction required. 

In this way, it seems to be a game that is primarily aimed at investors, at least in the current incarnation. This is most clearly seen in the staking interface, which offers a variety of ways for players to stake their coins for passive returns. 

First, an investor can stake $RAIDER to earn $AURUM. Players can stake an amount of $RAIDER for a locked period of time (from 3 – 12 months) to get a return. The details are a little unclear – an APR is given, but what is that measuring given that the player gets a different currency as a return? The APR also gets multiplied based on the locked length (3, 6, 9, and 12 months getting 1x, 2x, 3x, and 4x respectively), which is why there is a range listed. 

There is currently just shy of 7.5M $RAIDER staked and time-locked, and over 80% of that is under a 12 month lock (note: there may be closer to 9.5M $RAIDER staked, but the data on the chain is a bit unclear, with about 2M $RAIDER tied to a lock of 0 months). Seeing such a large percentage locking in for the maximum time is a good sign of confidence, even if primarily motivated by larger returns. It also means there’s a lot of illiquid $RAIDER, which should help keep those investors interested in the game for at least that long. 

The team is effectively paying players to stake $RAIDER, which presumably will lead to increased retention and reduced abandonment rates, in addition to being able to advertise an 8 figure total value locked (TVL). This should all help improve confidence in the project and currency, at least in theory.

Source: cryptoraiders.xyz, March 8, 2022

Players can also stake Sushi Liquidity Pool (LP) tokens to earn $RAIDER returns. The benefit for the game here is that it helps increase the overall liquidity of the two currencies. To participate, the player goes to SushiSwap, stakes a pair of tokens (for example, $RAIDER and WETH), and gets LP tokens in return. These LP tokens can then be staked, with no time locks, in Crypto Raiders for some pretty aggressive triple-digit APRs. That will be changing soon though…

Source: cryptoraiders.xyz, March 8, 2022

The Move to Protocol-Owned Liquidity

In the team’s own words, they are giving away $150k worth of $RAIDER (about 25k $RAIDER, at current prices ~$100k USD) every day to maintain the current liquidity level. They are renting that liquidity, and the liquidity is not getting any higher. Because of this, in February they decided to move to Protocol-Owned Liquidity, partnering with Olympus Pro to do so and becoming only the second blockchain project to work with them publicly (the other being GET). 

Under this new system, players will be giving their LP tokens to Crypto Raiders in exchange for short-term bonds of $RAIDER. In the post, the team gives an example of getting a 5% return for a 7 day bond, teasing an APR of 260% if that was repeated every week for a year (and in fact, if one could actually get a 5% return every 7 days and compound it, it would be possible to get a return of 1164% after a year). Such guaranteed ROIs look nice but can’t be sustainable. 

In theory, this new system makes sense. Crypto Raiders would end up owning liquidity instead of renting it, and those who are able to participate could get some very high returns. The reality so far, though, seems less enticing. On March 10th, the bond ROI for the liquidity tokens was a rather disheartening -6% to -8%. Demand for the bonds is so high right now that they’re actually paying out less than they cost, which is hardly a compelling investment.

Source: pro.olympusdao.finance, March 10, 2022

The total bonded value is about $470k (as of March 16), up $120k from 6 days prior. While not the $100k per day that the blog post suggested as a target, it’s still growing steadily. Bond prices should reset weekly, so while it may be a slower process it could build up nicely over time if the payouts become appealing. And the reason bond ROIs were so low is that there was high demand, so it seems reasonable that it could even out once the hype has cooled a bit. One does have to wonder, though, if people are misinterpreting the information, thinking they’re getting a discount rather than losing money, given that the bond ROIs are continuing to fall despite being a negative investment.

The bond prices are supposed to reset on a weekly basis, and it may be the case that this method will slowly build up liquidity ownership for the Crypto Raiders team. But investor behavior at the moment is puzzling at best. As of writing, the previous style of LP staking still exists on the Crypto Raiders website, but it is unclear how long these will be available and honored.

The Expansion to Market.xyz for Liquidity

Three weeks after the announcement of LP bonds through Olympus Pro, the team announced an additional liquidity partnership with Market.xyz. This partnership seems to be pretty light, mostly just meaning that they are now listed on Market.xyz. Unlike Olympus Pro’s bond system, which is pitched as an investment vehicle, Market.xyz is more of a liquidity tool, in which token owners can put tokens up for collateral and borrow other tokens against it. There is a nominal interest rate earned but nothing that will be enticing to investors (currently $AURUM is listed as 2.38% and $RAIDER at 0.17%, and those are only estimates). 

Players do seem to be making use of Market.xyz in perhaps coincidentally similar magnitude as Olympus Pro, with around $430k total value locked between $AURUM and $RAIDER. 

The Future

As a permadeath play-to-earn game with neither play-to-earn nor permadeath yet, Crypto Raiders is still very early. The first dungeon launched in July 2021, so the game has been live for a fair amount of time, but only in what would generally be considered to be an alpha state. The development team is very active, however; new features are being launched regularly, and engagement with the community has been high.

The biggest unknown for the game is the play-to-earn functionality. Outside of questing, which is more staking than playing, and PvP tournaments, which are run by-hand external to the game, there is no way to earn value by playing Crypto Raiders. 

The key question for any play-to-earn game is: “where does the value come from?” A related question is “how is the game developer making money?”, because without money coming in there can’t be money going out, at least not for long. 

The Crypto Raiders revenue model is still fairly unclear. They do capture some $AURUM occasionally – for example, recruiting new Raiders (i.e. breeding) costs $AURUM – but so far the recruitment periods have been very limited and regulated. They also referred to a marketplace in which $AURUM would be the currency; if and when that happens they’ll surely be taking a cut of those transactions. Mints of new mounts and MOBs are possible and could lead to some revenue bonuses. 

If Crypto Raiders can attract players who are interested in playing for fun, and who will spend money to do so, then they will have a sustainable revenue stream. If, however, only investors and play-to-earn users show up they’re very likely to face a financial crisis before long.

Naavik’s advice for the Crypto Raiders is to focus on the fun of the game, while continuing to provide value for investors and keeping an eye on revenue streams. Specifically:

Go ahead and get $AURUM rewards working for raids and MOBs. Sustainability is a question to manage, but first it’s important to deliver on promises and provide incentives to build the audience.

  • Continue to lean into the PvP features. The community seems to react well to them, and a good competitive game can drive direct revenue from players who are looking to dominate rather than make money. Additionally, continue engaging the community with limited-time events.
  • Permadeath is a unique feature and one that has the potential to draw a lot of attention from the press, investors, streamers, and players. Anything that can raise the drama and lead to great streams is likely to pay off. That said, consider abandoning this as the only NFT burn mechanic and look for other options to better control the NFT supply.
  • Create a single, up-to-date reference for players and investors to use and be confident that they are getting the most current information.
  • Ensure that the upcoming Unity port is the right decision. If the goal is to get on other platforms it will help a lot, but if intended to still be browser-focused, Unity can actually create a number of headaches.
  • Be careful with potential copyright issues. Using World of Warcraft’s Hogger character in the game and referring to an official event as the “League of Legends Tournament” is unlikely to trigger anything in early stages, but it could lead to some trouble as the game grows.


Crypto Raiders is an intriguing study in the blockchain gaming space. So far, it is minimally a “game” due to very little interactivity, but future features will help flesh this out to appeal more to gamers interested in playing for fun. It appears to be innovating responsibly; that is, it is exploring a few innovations (e.g. permadeath and player-owned MOBs) but also sticking to a number of established conventions. This makes it less likely to be an earth-shattering success but also more likely to succeed in general.

One of the more encouraging aspects of the game is the team. While there are a few early warning signs (a team new to the space, one founder still anonymous, and poor documentation), the team’s actions have helped assuage these concerns. They have been very active with the players, communicating openly and often in Discord and weekly blog posts. Code updates are regular, with new builds pushed roughly weekly. They have shown creative “low tech” work-arounds for in-development features, most notably by manually running PvP tournaments through Discord. It’s also great to see them already running limited-time seasonal events.

The team also seems to have a good sense of tokenomics. They have incentivized liquidity pool staking to build up a substantial amount of token liquidity. They have also gotten over $20 million of governance tokens time-locked for 12 months. Additionally, they are keeping tight control over the supply of all NFTs, even player-minted Raider recruitment. The only real concern here is that they are planning to use permadeath as a primary burn mechanism for Raiders.

Given that a few important features are lacking and the player base remains small (4,600 wallets with 2,000 active weekly), this makes Crypto Raiders a primarily speculative project at this point. It could grow significantly, but it also may not have enough built momentum to survive a sudden crisis or a few months of poor management. This will be a good game to keep an eye on as it transitions from a primarily passive staking-based game into an interactive 8-bit RPG with live PvP and dramatic permadeath of expensive NFTs.

A big thanks to Anthony Pecorella for writing this report.