NFT-powered play-to-earn games are reimagining the gaming industry, with many players now making a living off of titles like Axie Infinity and Splinterlands. P2E games and NFTs are the perfect match and companies all over the world want a piece of it.
Throughout the half-century history of home videogames, gaming has served as a diversion, something to distract us all from a long day’s work. A new generation of video games, however, is using blockchain technologies such as NFTs to reward players with cryptocurrency.
Making a Living Playing Online Games: What’s Not to Like?
These P2E (play-to-earn) games are nowy allowing gamers to make a living by playing video games in some countries, with scholarship programs and academies springing up to help players navigate this strange new world.
While some have welcomed the introduction of play-to-earn games, arguing that they allow users to earn rewards for doing something they would have done for free before, many gamers have expressed concern about the unwelcome intrusion of commerce into the escapist world of gaming.
What Is Play-to-Earn Gaming?
Basically, play-to-earn games (P2E) are video games in which the player can earn real-world rewards.
While people have been earning money from video games for many years through methods such as “gold farming” and unofficial marketplaces for in-game items, the advent of blockchain technology and NFTs has revolutionized game play.
Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are cryptographically distinct tokens that can be used to prove ownership of content such as images or music. They allow users to take ownership of in-game items such as virtual clothing or plots of land in blockchain games.
Unlike traditional games, in which in-game items are held on closed data networks and owned by the companies that created the game, NFTs allow players to own the unique assets that they purchase. Furthermore, once you own the NFT, you can freely sell it outside of the platform on which it was created, which is not possible with traditional games.
That is, NFTs representing in-game items can be traded and sold on any NFT marketplace for fiat currency. Because those NFTs are in short supply, they have real-world value.
There is no reason to play regular games other than pure enjoyment. The relationship is one-sided: you pay for the game, and you will never be able to monetize your playtime unless you are a professional esports player or a streamer with a large following. In contrast, blockchain gaming allows players to earn real money.
Players can transfer value and be paid to play regardless of who they are or where they are in the world because blockchain technology allows users to transact wherever they are.
The Rise of P2E (Play-to-Earn)
Axie Infinity, a Pokémon-style monster-battling game released in 2018 by indie studio Sky Mavis, is by far the most popular play-to-earn game. Players collect cartoon creatures called Axies, which are represented by NFTs in the game; each Axie has unique strengths and weaknesses, and players can adventure, battle, and breed their Axies as they play.
Players receive Smooth Love Potion (SLP) crypto tokens as rewards for battling, while Axie Infinity Shard (AXS) tokens are used to vote on game and future development decisions.
Axie Infinity has become one of the dominant play-to-earn games, with 2.8 million daily users and a total trading volume of $3.8 billion—and in countries such as the Philippines and Indonesia, people are even playing Axie to support their families. “Axie scholarship” programs, such as those offered by Yield Guild Games, have also sprung up, allowing Axie owners to loan their NFTs to other players.
Play-to-earn gaming is also promoting crypto adoption; according to Axie Infinity co-founder Aleksander Leonard Larsen, half of the game’s players have never used a cryptocurrency before. However, there are costs associated with playing the game, and you must first purchase three Axie NFTs, each of which can cost hundreds of dollars. Larsen acknowledged the difficulties in bringing new players into the game, saying, “It’s really hard to start playing Axie right now.”
To address this issue, Axie intends to release free starter Axies with limited earning potential in order to introduce new players to the game.
The prospect of NFTs and P2E has also piqued the interest of the mainstream gaming industry; French video game giant Ubisoft has already announced plans for Ubisoft Quartz, a platform that allows players to earn and purchase NFTs based on the Tezos blockchain.
Other publishers have been testing the NFT waters, and at times have been met with furious backlash from gamers.
Old-school gamers, irritated by publishers’ monetization of games through “pay-to-win” models and lootboxes, see play-to-earn as a step too far, arguing that introducing real-world economic models and incentives will transform gaming from an escapism into a blatantly capitalist “investotainment” cash grab.
However, with investment from firms such as FTX and Andreessen Horowitz pouring into the play-to-earn space, it shows no signs of abating anytime soon.
The Metaverse and Beyond
The metaverse, a shared virtual world in which users interact as avatars, meeting up, working together—and, of course, playing games—is emerging concurrently with play-to-earn gaming.
Blockchain, cryptocurrency, and NFTs play a significant role in metaverse plans, with non-fungible tokens representing virtual objects and land parcels. Again, these three platforms show increased interoperability and thus encourage overall adoption.
Metaverse platforms like The Sandbox, Decentraland, and CryptoVoxels are already bringing NFTs into the shared virtual world, while mainstream companies like Facebook (now rebranded as Meta, in a sign of its ambitions), Adidas, and Samsung have staked out their claims in the metaverse.
Despite the fact that we are still in the early stages of imagining what the metaverse could be, we are already seeing live concerts and meet-ups. Gaming will undoubtedly follow, and with the promise of an interoperable world and NFTs allowing in-game items to cross between metaverse platforms, it could act as a powerful catalyst for play-to-earn gaming.
There is no denying the power of P2E, which allows anyone, anywhere, to earn a living simply by playing games they like playing.
If you you want to learn about the top P2E Games out there you we recommend following article to you: 7 Hot NFT Games You Should Know About
Jay Speakman is a technology writer based in San Francisco, California. He writes on the topics of blockchain, cryptocurrency, DeFi and other disruptive technologies. Clients include Avalanche, Be[in]Crypto, Trust Machines and several blogs devoted to blockchain gaming. He will not rest until fiat currency is defeated.