Play-to-earn games (P2E) are a new development but could very well be the future of gaming, especially with crypto and NFTs gaining widespread traction.
P2E promotes co-ownership between the community and developers and creates an open and fair model with incentive alignment. These decentralized P2E games may also be the missing piece of the puzzle when it comes to the mass adoption of blockchain technology. By empowering individuals across the globe, while overcoming any demographic barriers, these games can take crypto mainstream.
The global gaming market is growing at a fast pace and with increasing digitization, gaming is becoming increasingly relevant. The online gaming market is expected to reach about $269 billion by 2025.
While gaming has already gone mainstream—with Minecraft, Fortnite, League of Legends, Counter-Strike, and PUBG being some of the most popular games—most mainstream games do not pay you to play the game.
These games offer many cosmetic purchases, such as skins, that are small but bring in a constant trickle of income to the company. While the money goes into the ecosystem, it doesn’t leave the game as their business model functions as a one-way street.
But the latest trend in online gaming promises to give players a part of its income, as well by paying them to play.
The introduction of crypto here takes it even further. In traditional P2E games, only a certain level of players can earn. The new version of P2E, however, allows everyone to earn while playing games. Crypto is expected to help take P2E to the masses.
The crypto industry tapped into the potential of this growing segment largely through the boom of non-fungible tokens (NFTs)—digital assets that represent the ownership of an item by containing identifying information in smart contracts. NFTs are unique and are used to prove the ownership of any digital items.
In this latest version of P2Es, players can earn in-game cryptocurrencies and earn or trade in-game NFTs. Some games even allow users to lock up their crypto or NFTs, which in turn generates rewards.
P2E embraces the concept of an open economy, and what sets it apart from traditional gaming is that here players retain ownership of all of their digital assets and these assets have real-world value. Not to mention, blockchain-based games are, by nature, transparent and decentralized and can help shape the future of the field.
Amidst this rise of P2E games, there are some popular options that are seeing vast adoption.
Axie Infinity is the most popular P2E game and the third biggest earning crypto project, with its revenue surpassing $1.2 billion in the past year .
Inspired by popular games such as Pokemon and Tamagotchi, it enables players to earn SLP cryptocurrency by collecting, breeding, battling, and trading creatures known as Axies. Every single Axie is an NFT with different attributes and strengths.
Axie Infinity Shards (AXS) is the native governance token of the platform, which is one of the best performing cryptocurrencies that can also be staked.
Developed by Vietnamese studio Sky Mavis, this NFT-based game was recently valued at $3 billion and has been thriving in emerging markets such as the Philippines, Venezuela, Brazil, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Nigeria, Ghana, and Turkey.
Axie Infinity has created thousands of jobs in the Philippines and helped underserved people generate income, and empower a big “unbanked” population.
In this blockchain-based virtual world, players can create assets, monetize them, and participate in an immersive gaming experience. The Sandbox has a reward system that gives players the right to share or sell their in-world objects and digital real estate.
There are two tokens in this game:3 billion SAND utility tokens and 166,464 LANDs, which are NFTs that can also be used to create housing, host games, and build multiplayer experiences.
The Sandbox’s world is powered by VoxEdit, which allows players to build in-game objects, SandBox Game Maker, which is required to build 3D games inside the game for free, and Sandbox Marketplace, where users can buy and sell cryptos, NFTs, and game items.
A popular game launched in 2017 on Ethereum through an initial coin offering (ICO) in which it raised $24 million, Decentraland allows its players to create and monetize different content and applications.
Users can purchase plots of land on this decentralized virtual real estate platform, create virtual structures on it, and then potentially monetize it. This year, an NFT-based metaverse real estate company bought a parcel of land on Decentraland for $2.43 million.
The game was created by Ariel Meilich and Esteban Ordano, who are now working as its advisors, and features two cryptocurrencies.MANA is the native crypto that is used to pay for avatars, wearables, and other things available in the Decenetraland marketplace, and can be burned to acquire ERC-721 LAND tokens.
This free-to-play NFT game was formerly known as Steemmonsters and is a variation of trading card games. Here, the battle is automated based on your cards before the match. These cards are backed by NFTs and other in-game items which users can buy, sell, or rent (to other users).
Dark Energy Crystals (DEC) cryptocurrency is awarded to players for joining tournaments, winning skill-based matches, and fulfilling in-game achievements.
Its governance token, Splintershards (SPS), gives its holders the right to vote on future developments, including game mechanics and other parameters.
Gods Unchained is a card game where users can collect, purchase, and trade their cards on NFT marketplaces, as well as compete with other players. For the sake of fairness, the game ensures that only players with similar rankings are matched up.
There are two play options for users; in solo mode players can compete against bots, and in the constructed mode, they can compete with other players.
For your first set of cards, you have to earn Flux by winning games, which can be used to make cards unique and sellable in marketplaces.