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It’s the hit game that crypto gamers can’t stop talking about on Ethereum scaling network Ronin—and no, it’s not Axie Infinity this time around. It’s Pixels, a relatively simple and social farming game that has quickly amassed a sizable following.

Pixels takes cues from beloved games like Harvest Moon, Stardew Valley, and Animal Crossing, but layers in crypto elements like support for NFT avatars plus a token-driven game economy. And that latter bit is key, as the upcoming PIXEL token launch and the play-to-airdrop campaigns that preceded it have helped drive momentum around Pixels.

Not sure what all the hype is about? We’ve been covering the rise of Pixels at Decrypt’s GG and tending our own lo-fi crops all the while. Here’s everything you need to know.

What is Pixels?

Pixels is an online farming game that you can play through a web browser. It launched in 2021 and has gradually evolved and expanded since. While initially built on Polygon—another Ethereum scaling network—Pixels migrated to Ronin in late 2023.

As of this writing, Pixels lets you take on tasks like growing and tending crops, decorating land crops, talking to villagers, completing quests, and more. And it’s social, as you’ll often see dozens, if not hundreds of other little pixelated avatars roaming through the game world.

Do I need NFTs or tokens to play?

Not at all. You can sign in with a Ronin wallet or MetaMask, or otherwise choose to create an account with an email address or phone number, but Pixels is free to play and enjoy.

However, there are bonus features and capabilities available. For example, there are NFT land plots that are much larger than the free, basic plots, plus holders of assets from certain NFT projects—including the Bored Ape Yacht Club and Pudgy Penguins—can use their owned profile picture (PFP) characters as in-game avatars.

There’s also an optional VIP pass that unlocks additional in-game features, and you can pay for that with RON, the native cryptocurrency of the Ronin network.

What is the PIXEL token?

PIXEL will be the single crypto token of the Pixels gaming universe. Set to launch on Binance on February 19, 2024, the ERC-20 token PIXEL will be airdropped to tens of thousands of wallets of early players, plus it will be awarded further in the future via play-to-earn features in the game.

Pixels previously had an in-game BERRY token that was described as a “soft currency” and used for things like buying and selling farmed items. However, BERRY is currently being phased out, and holders will be granted PIXEL tokens at a preset exchange rate. By the time the PIXEL token is generated, BERRY will be considered fully obsolete.

Who is eligible for the PIXEL airdrop?

Pixels held a pair of “play-to-airdrop” campaigns that incentivized play with the promise of potentially earning future token rewards. In total, 20,000 players’ wallets made the cut in the first round in 2023, with another 8,000 wallets picked in January 2024 ahead of the token launch.

Furthermore, Pixels launched a Binance Launchpool campaign that runs from February 9 up through the actual token launch and listing on February 19. Binance is serving up 350 million PIXEL tokens as rewards for users who stake Binance Coin (BNB) or the FDUSD stablecoin. The Launchpool allocation represents 7% of the total PIXEL supply of 5 billion tokens.

The future

According to Pixels founder Luke Barwikowski, the game has a substantial roadmap ahead that includes fleshing out the current farming gameplay, expanding the scope of the game, and finding new ways to incentivize and reward players well into the future.

With BERRY being deprecated and PIXEL about to launch, the game has already implemented a new task board that gives players daily quests to complete—some of which will award PIXEL tokens. In the near future, the game will also make changes to how scarce resources are managed and provide more benefits to NFT land owners.

Even so, Pixels will remain a free-to-play game that’s open to all, but it seems clear that the team wants to make sure that people who either buy NFT land or pay for the VIP upgrade see tangible perks for investing in the experience. And there could be scads of other players who seek to align with those players to share in the benefits.

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