What Are Play-to-Earn Games?
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What Are Play-to-Earn Games?

Cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies are gradually spreading in various spheres of human life, and this is not only about using Bitcoin or different altcoins as speculative assets. The new format for conducting monetary transactions allows us to solve issues of security, anonymity, decentralization, and so on. The list goes on and on. And recently, cryptocurrencies have begun to be used as a means of payment in the whole segment of game projects. The gamers participating in them had the opportunity not only to receive positive emotions from their time spent in virtual worlds, but also to make real money. In the era of the dominance of pay-to-win projects that suck money out of players to accelerate character development, unique equipment and other "goodies", the opportunity to receive money based on in-game activities looks like a revolutionary idea. Already, new projects based on NFT tokens have begun to attract millions of dollars from investors from all over the world.

Play-to-Earn Games: How Does It Work? 

The bottom line is to link the financial model of the game to non-fungible tokens (NFT). Players can earn them by performing the actions suggested by the creators of the game, trade in-game items on the marketplace, and engage in exchange operations with other users. Some people prefer to hold the earned currency and sell after a while, waiting for the next jump in the rate up, which resembles ordinary cryptocurrency investing. In general, you can implement almost any kind of income source. In almost all popular projects with an online component that have come out over the past decade, the players do not own practically anything. It doesn't matter how much gold a gamer has accumulated on his account and how rare items he knocked out during the passage of the next dungeon  – if he tries to sell valuables for real money, then he will most likely simply be blocked for violating the user agreement. In play-to-earn games, the situation is the opposite – the owner of the values ​​has guarantees of ownership of them and all the opportunities to realize the values accumulated in ways convenient for him. And unlike conventional fans of World of Warcraft or other popular MMOs, where trader accounts are constantly banned, here gamers are not threatened with any sanctions.

Examples Of Play-to-Earn Games

Despite the fact that this trend is relatively new, interesting projects have already begun to appear on the Internet. If you want to try it too, it's worth learning a thing or two about the risks. When a game requires you to invest money, it is far from a fact that it will pay off in the future (this principle, however, is true to one degree or another for any area of ​​investment).\


CryptoKitties is one of the pioneers in the NFT gaming niche, which simply could not help but become popular. After all, it is difficult to find such a person who would not like cats and make money. The essence of the gameplay is to breed fluffy animals by crossing different species. They can be purchased in-game or with real money on NFT marketplaces. The output will be individuals with unique characteristics, which are also available for sale. Initially launched on Ethereum, CryptoKitties faced scalability and transaction latency issues and switched to the Flow blockchain. The latter is a fast and friendly solution for content creators, in particular games. Its architecture has resulted in significant performance improvements, enabling animation and 3D graphics to be embedded in CryptoKitties. 


If you are into virtual soccer managers (aka fantasy soccer where players build custom teams and fight each other), Sorare is a great transition option. After all, here gamers play not only for fun, but also for the sake of earning money. As you defeat other managers with your virtual team, you will win valuable prizes. Digital player cards are classified into different categories – unique, rare, very rare, etc. Accordingly, the more difficult it is to get a particular card, the higher its cost on trading floors. Players own 100% cards and can dispose of them at their discretion – sell, exchange, use as an object for investment, etc. Sorare was released back in 2018 by a team of two developers and is based on the popular Ethereum blockchain. The popularity of football simulators and the opportunities for making money have attracted an impressive audience to the game.

Gods Unchained 

Once again, a collectible card game, but this time in a more traditional format. A fantasy project with classic 1x1 battles, building a deck and laying it on the table, was created by a developer involved in the famous Magic: The Gathering Arena, so it was possible to generate interest from the audience quite easily. Gods Unchained attracted almost $ 17.5 million from investors in two visits, and the game, starting in 2019, managed to recapture 4 million a few months after its release. Of course, this is just the beginning – the project is popular and is developing to this day. The gameplay can be described as “easy to learn, hard to play”. The basic mechanics are clear to anyone who cares about collectible card games, but it takes careful planning to defeat your opponent. As for the economic component, it consists in filling the Flux resource and crafting new cards of high rarity with it. Accordingly, you can continue to play with them, or, alternatively, go to the trading platform and sell a valuable asset for cryptocurrency.

Axie Infinity

In the Axie Infinity blockchain game, players must collect quirky and cute Axi creatures, each with unique properties based on their genetic code – they can be positive or negative. And with more than five hundred components that can be combined at the discretion of the players, you are unlikely to ever see two Axis alike. Virtual creatures, by the way, can refer to the animal kingdom, birds, reptiles, and even insects. By growing them, players will end up fighting other Axis. In-game resources are divided by rarity into several categories, including rare and legendary, and are freely traded through the market. Now the game is actively developing and acquiring new modes such as Axie Battle and Axie Land. The presence of tokens in the player's possession allows him to participate in the voting, largely deciding the further fate of the project.

F1 Delta Time

F1 Delta Time is an NFT game that Formula 1 fans will love. It allows gamers to collect cars, drivers and vehicle components to gain an edge over rivals on the racetrack and win Grand Prix. Each token can affect the characteristics of the car and driver, increasing their productivity. In addition, F1 Delta Time offers several more mods: a trial with the ability to try out assemblies and a timed mode where riders break records and compete for the opportunity to get to the top places in the leaderboard. F1 Delta Time requires no installation and lets you access adrenaline-pumping arcade gameplay right in your browser. As of 2021, the game is in active development and is not yet fully ready – some of the modes have not yet been launched by the developers. On the other hand, various events are regularly held there, where tokens are raffled in large numbers. Any valuables obtained during the gameplay or bought by gamers for real money, fully belong to them and can be sold or exchanged. 

Evolution Land

A sandbox game with a strong online component. Gamers are placed in a world consisting of 26 continents and divided into two continents – Atlantis and Byzantium. The first is based on the Ethereum blockchain, and the second is based on TRON. Players can both team up and confront each other in research, construction, mining and classic PvP. Interestingly, in addition to the sale of land and the so-called Apostles, gamers also have the right to vote, allowing them to influence the fate of the project. About 70% of the game's income is distributed among the players in accordance with the number of KTONs at their disposal. For some gamers, the gameplay can be confusing – especially for those who are not very good with the English language. But if you go to the official website and familiarize yourself with the local F.A.Q. in detail, you can find answers to almost all popular questions from newbies. The game, by the way, has its own referral program – by attracting active players using its unique link, you will receive 20% of the system commission when the attracted user participates in the in-game auction.

My Neighbor Alice

A farm game with a cute cartoon design and an interesting economic system that makes it a chore to turn your plot into thriving farmland. The list of activities includes planting and harvesting, breeding animals, catching bugs, fishing and much more. Also, players have the opportunity to establish contact with neighbors, compete with them – both in those created by the developers and in custom activities invented by the players themselves. The best landowners, determined by the in-game reputation system, have a chance to increase the profitability of their plots. On the virtual trading platform My Neighbor Alice, players can sell an impressive number of in-game items – land plots, animals and plants, houses and other structures. You can customize absolutely everything, even profile avatars could be changed at will. The exact release date of the project is still unknown, but the release is planned for January 2022.


Blockchain games, in particular, using the pay-to-earn system and NFT tokens, look quite promising. But there are also some nuances that can spoil the picture of the ideal source of income for many gamers.

Firstly, the problem of transfer fees has not yet been resolved. Transaction fees “eat up” part of the income from trading floors and exchange operations. 

Secondly, blockchain, cryptocurrencies and, as a result, specific user interfaces for many potential players are difficult to understand matters, which makes it difficult to attract an audience. Thirdly, cryptocurrencies in some countries have a status balancing on the brink of legality.It cannot be said for certain that the use of this financial instrument in criminal schemes will not entail its prohibition at the state level with all the ensuing consequences.

Will all of the above scare away gamers? Even now statistics show that it is unlikely. They need new impressions, experience, the opportunity to receive a real reward for their in-game achievements. 

Of course, one of the main advantages is gaining control over the acquired / obtained virtual values ​​during the gameplay. In the coming years, more and more play-to-earn games are expected to appear and their further development – improved user interfaces, new gameplay solutions, adaptation for a mass audience (including owners of mobile devices). So this segment of the industry is definitely worth taking a closer look at – if not now, then in the near future.



Viktor Ihnatiuk

Founder at Boosty Labs, SNO Growth Lead at Storj Labs

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