As blockchain technology evolves and the space itself grows, the number of use cases is exploding.
From Decentralized Finance (DeFi) to games, identity to NFTs, it seems like there’s a flavor of DApp popping up for every business case.
Competition is also increasingly fierce in the DApp space. Developers fight tooth and nail for attention and resources. One week’s king is another week’s nobody - it’s a DApp-eats-DApp world.
All this means that picking the top Ethereum DApps is not a trivial task (and that this article will require constant updates to remain relevant!)
Since 2018, we’ve worked with hundreds of projects from all corners of the blockchain space. During this time, we not only witnessed the birth and growth of many of web3’s household names, but also helped some of them achieve their potential.
And we’re constantly looking, researching, and gauging the temperature of web3 on the lookout for the most innovative, paradigm-changing new partners.
So let’s go through the top Ethereum DApps list of this year, what they are all about, and what makes them great in the first place.
What's a DApp?
DApp is a decentralized application that runs on a distributed ledger, blockchain, or P2P network.
The front-end side might look the same as any other digital application. But the back-end, in contrast with regular apps, is usually executed on smart contracts that are processed by a decentralized network of computers around the world.
So while a web2 application is displayed and rendered using HTML, APIs, and traditional centralized servers to access its data, a DApp uses code that runs on a distributed (and decentralized) network - that is, a blockchain network, such as Ethereum.
The code of a DApp is often (at least partly) open source and publicly available, and anyone can review it or even contribute to it.
Ethereum: leading the DApp ecosystem
Ethereum provides a full-fledged ecosystem for creating DApps, complete with a vibrant developer base and a strong community of supporters and is by far the largest token and financial ecosystem among general-purpose blockchains. Ethereum simply has more users, volume of funds, and projects calling it home than any other platform.
Moreover, Ethereum leads the way when it comes to setting standards for tokens and projects, such as ERC-20 and ERC-721 standards - so influential that they have been adopted by other ecosystems.
Regardless of their skill level, novice and seasoned developers can find incredibly rich resources on Ethereum and the Ethereum Virtual Machine.
The ecosystem is also home to all kinds of tried-and-true smart contract templates and ready-made solutions that help make more secure applications and reduce the amount of development time.
Is Ethereum the only protocol for building a DApp? Certainly not. DApp and blockchain developers have dozens of options, such as Cardano, Solana, Cosmos, Binance Chain, Fantom, and many, many others.
But no other blockchain has arguably achieved the same level of maturity, penetration, and decentralization as Ethereum.
The best DApps on Ethereum in 2022
What makes the best Ethereum DApps? Defining the parameters for what makes the best Ethereum DApps is far from an exact science, so we had to focus on a few specific criteria.
For the purposes of this article, the top DApps on Ethereum pack a combination of:
- High number of users: the amount of users is perhaps the most crucial metric to determine a DApp’s success, as measured by unique wallets.
- High transaction/locked value: the total monetary value transacted or locked in vaults as per publicly available blockchain data.
- Great UX: a subjective rating from 1 to 5 stars.
- Uniqueness: the innovation factor, the most unique feature(s) brought about by the DApp.
To further narrow it down, we picked the leading DApps from the most popular categories of solutions running on Ethereum, including:
- Decentralized exchanges (DEXes)
- NFT marketplaces
- Ethereum games
- Decentralized finance (DeFi)
- Identity and reputation management DApps
- Organization and collaboration DApps
So without further ado, here are the best DApps on Ethereum right now:
Best decentralized exchanges (DEXes)
Decentralized exchanges do not require customers to fill out KYC forms, offering users privacy and anonymity. Also, many Altcoins are only available on DEXs. These applications make it possible to trade cryptocurrencies without a centralized organization that provides liquidity.
Number of Active Users/Wallets (Ethereum): 118K (v3)
Value locked: $3.91B
Value transacted – 30 days/24h (Ethereum): $1.48B
UX rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Uniqueness: creators of the AMM (automated market maker) mechanism
Uniswap lets users exchange a huge selection of Ethereum-based tokens in a fully decentralized way. Launched in 2018, Uniswap is one of the OGs in the decentralized exchange subset of decentralized finance – a household brand name. Amongst other things, Uniswap is known for developing the automated market maker (AMM) mechanism, which opened the floodgates for DeFi and enabled the first gold rush of DEXes in the blockchain space
Uniswap has evolved a lot since the early days, sitting currently at its third iteration (V3) deployment – which has greatly improved transaction and capital efficiency, as well as substantially optimized transaction costs.
To this day (and even during this bear market) Uniswap drives a substantial percentage of users and volume in the decentralized finance space - despite the fierce competition it faces from an increasing number of challengers. It sure looks like they’ll keep leading the way for the foreseeable future.
Best NFT Marketplace
An NFT marketplace is a platform used for buying, bidding, and selling (or even showing) NFTs through Smart Contracts. That is, it is a blockchain-based tool that makes it simple to trade and store NFTs.
Number of Users/Wallets: 2.3M
Value transacted (30 days): $322M
UX rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Uniqueness: the first and largest web3 marketplace for NFTs and crypto collectibles in multiple chains
The platform is used for buying, bidding, and selling NFTs using smart contracts and is also a great example of how the Ethereum network allows for not just a solid ecosystem, but structural solutions that allow cryptographic ownership of non-fungible items, such as NFTs.
OpenSea is known for its close connection with modern artists, games, and socials. For example, Reddit avatars can be traded there as NFTs. In January, this year, the platform also surpassed $3.5 billion in the monthly Ether trading volume.
The marketplace looks set to remain the market leader as new NFT enthusiasts continue to improve the emerging NFT space – while reaping the benefits of the Ethereum ecosystem, such as using ETH as a native currency, and Ethereum's layer 2 solutions, such as Polygon, for the trading of NFTs.
Plans for the future include investments focused on a variety of areas important to security, theft prevention, intellectual property infringement, scalability review, and moderation.
Best Ethereum games
Ethereum games allow players to trade in-game items with other players by using the entire network ecosystem, in addition to the possibility of rewards with play-to-earn or play-and-earn model games.
In this category, we're going beyond the obvious choice of the record-holder Axie Infinity to explore another interesting up-and-coming game in the market.
Number of Users/Wallets (30 days): 753
Value locked: $24M
UX rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Uniqueness: Despite the period being weak for the GameFi ecosystem, Illuvium stands out for being a game with fun gameplay. That is, it is not a clicking game and truly engages the players.
According to the official website, "Illuvium, the world's first IBG (Interoperable Blockchain Game) is an upcoming open-world exploration, NFT creature collector and auto battler game built on the Ethereum blockchain." The game is an NFT MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) and is available for PC only. In the gameplay, players can enjoy a fantasy open world to explore regions where Illuvials dwell and capture them to form team fights.
Illuvium also grants character fusions to its players as another core gameplay; two Iluvials of different classes and affinities can combine to develop a rarer Iluvial.
Best decentralized finance (DeFi) DApp
Decentralized exchanges do not require customers to fill out KYC forms, offering users privacy and anonymity.
DeFi apps give users more control over their money, reiterating the importance of self-custody through personal wallets and trading services that cater to individuals.
This is a broad sector, going from exchanges, to lending, to algorithmic stablecoin projects - so in this iteration of this article, we’ll select just one of them.
Number of Active Users/Wallets (Ethereum): 79K
Value locked (Ethereum): $5.45B
UX rating: ⭐️⭐️
Uniqueness: The DEX was specifically designed to exchange between stablecoins.
Despite its UX design being a bit, shall we say, minimalistic, by focusing on stablecoins only, Curve allows investors to avoid more volatile assets while still earning high-interest rates from lending protocols. So we can say that compared to other AMM platforms, the Curve model is particularly – as much as you can say in crypto – conservative, as it works in favor of stability.
The Curve DAO token (CRV) is the utility token for the DeFi protocol. It is basically an ERC-20 token operating on Curve DEX and it is basically used as the governance token and also can be used to offer rewards to the liquidity providers.
Curve Finance is very close to launching its own stablecoin, dubbed crvUSD (according to the initial code released by its developers), which, despite the possibility of having been used in some implemented contracts, has not yet been officially launched.
The code library will operate as an interface to the not-yet-implemented crvUSD Smart Contracts and will be the first step toward the eventual issuance of the tokens.
Identity and reputation management DApps
Web3 identification and reputation systems are more private and secure than some traditional domains such as DNS. They're also cheaper and easier to use, so you have the ability to build names and brands in a more accessible way.
And with a web3 domain, you are the only one who has control over this name. No one can censor it, eliminating the risk of DoS attacks.
ENS (Ethereum Name Service)
Number of Users/Wallets: 2.4M
Value transacted (30 days): $2.2B
UX rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Uniqueness: it's the first domain naming protocol built specifically for the Ethereum blockchain to create readable usernames for Ethereum-based crypto wallets and decentralized websites and apps.
Web2 websites use a centralized DNS (Domain Name System), which refers to the model of sites as we see today (site.com) to assign and direct addresses on the internet, translating IPs.
ENS (Ethereum Name Service) translates complicated Ethereum addresses, made up of random numbers and letters, into memorable names that can also be used for the same function - and more.
ENS builds a huge step towards accessibility in directing decentralized resources, as it makes it easier to read the addresses. According to the ENS official documentation:
"The Ethereum Name Service (ENS) is a distributed, open, and extensible naming system based on the Ethereum blockchain. ENS’s job is to map human-readable names like ‘alice.eth’ to machine-readable identifiers such as Ethereum addresses, other cryptocurrency addresses, content hashes, and metadata. ENS also supports ‘reverse resolution’, making it possible to associate metadata such as canonical names or interface descriptions with Ethereum addresses."
The Ethereum Name Service is operated by a DAO. The DAO itself has its governance working through the vote of the holders of the ENS token, who can submit proposals and vote on them to determine the future development of the protocol.
The DAO airdrop became very famous in the ecosystem for two reasons: the number of people who engaged in the DAO and also for those who benefited from the token's valuation.
Recently, Coinbase announced a partnership with ENS to create decentralized Coinbase-compatible usernames. Users can plug in their existing .eth address or their new cb.id to build their Web3 profiles.
Organization and collaboration DApps
DApps focused on team organizations and collaborations are still being developed. We can't see a variety in the market, but the already-developed platforms have become useful for big DAOs like Bankless, Shapeshift, 0xPolygon DAO, and many others.
This DApp category can directly connect the crypto payment to the collaboration of each member (in addition to the benefit of organized and blockchain recording of each work and participation).
Number of Users/Wallets (in February): more than 1K signed up users
UX rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Uniqueness: It is one of the only DApps that supports the work of DAOs and web3 companies in general because it facilitates payment in crypto and is based on tasks performed (in addition to providing frameworks for workflows).
Dework describes itself as a good mix of some bounty board features and project management tools, even supporting LinkedIn. The platform can be considered a web3 version of Trello but with more features, especially those related to crypto payments.
Users can create task boards, organize across sectors, and delegate between them. These tasks can be created, and people are free to sign up to claim them, and people are free to sign up to claim them, which improves the way DAOs operate, for example.
Dework makes it easy to see the progress of work on the web3 and endorses building a work-based community.
Ethereum is adding security and transparency to every solution to modern human digital problems. It’s a very diverse network that allows a huge variety of applications that can help integrate more people into the web3 ecosystem.
In addition to all the Ethereum DApps mentioned above, there are many others being experimented on, like the move-to-earn model, with a focus on physical health and applications being developed, and certainly new ones yet to come.
We’ve just scratched the surface of the sheer scope of innovation on Ethereum that’s going on right now. You’ve seen some of the best and the brightest, and we’ll keep updating you on the breakthroughs taking place on the Ethereum chain.
The future looks bright for Ethereum, and we believe that the explosion in the number of great DApps will ultimately lead to a more open, inclusive, and free internet.
Do you know of any DApps that we missed on this list? Give us a shout out on Twitter!
Got a DApp yourself? We hope this list offers you useful references and examples to make your own journey smoother. We know that scaling an application takes work and extra care with the experience of your users.
We can help your project grow by enabling easy crypto-to-fiat transactions within your platform. Interested? Hit us up and apply for a partnership!