In recent years the gaming industry grew like never before. High profits attracted new developers, the competition increased and provoked industry growth. Still, there always was an issue of the economic model of the game which would at the same time suit the player and the developer.
Nowadays there’s a new and very promising model emerging and it’s called Play-To-Earn (Play2Earn).
As I get many questions about it from my Twitter followers and clients I work with, I’d like to provide you with a short overview of this model so you can use this information in the early stages to earn some profits in the future. Still, don’t forget to do your own research.
Previously games were perceived only as a way of having fun. But right now, a new class of games is emerging that is not only fun but an attractive investment.
For example, in The Sims, you can buy anything from a pizza to a house using a special currency, Simoleons. But there were no games where in-game currency had a real-world value. There was simply no liquidity and no infrastructure for this liquidity to emerge. Still, there always was a demand for such liquidity.
Games like World of Warcraft have sprung up a gray marketplace for in-game items and characters exchange. It was an absolutely wild and unorganized market. A free-to-play model is a decision that would satisfy the demand for the aforementioned liquidity.
So how do Play 2 Earn games work and what is their purpose?
It’s better to explain the economic model of play-to-earn using some examples.
A leader in this direction is Axie Infinity, a Pokémon-style game created by Vietnamese developer Sky Mavis. It has about 1 million active daily users. The main hooks of the game are cute furry creatures called Axies. Users can breed them, buy and train them, complete tasks with their help, and conduct battles. The goal is to get small love potions (SLP). Using SLP players can create new Axies and get more advantages.
At the same time, SLP is a cryptocurrency that can be bought and sold on a crypto exchange. The top players are reported to be making 1,500 SLPs a day (equal to $270 at the moment of writing this) from their Axies, although the exchange rate of SLP is constantly changing. The value of the cryptocurrency has been rising since 2020. It’s important to note that in the earn-to-play model the value of a currency depends on the number of players who need it.
The Axie itself can be sold as an NFT, on a dedicated marketplace. I’d like to remind you that NFTs (non-fungible tokens)are blockchain-based digital collectibles that have recently exploded in popularity in the art world. The game allows you to sell not only Axie but also any in-game items — real estate, flowers, and other objects. The transactions are processed on the Ethereum blockchain.
How to Start Your Play 2 Earn Journey
For example, to start playing Axie Infinity, you need to buy (or borrow) three Axies. Pricing starts at $190, although it averages around $350. High-level characters cost much more.
The most expensive triple mystical Axie named Angel was sold at the end of 2020, for 300 ETH (at that time, about $120k). Meanwhile, in early 2021, another property in this game was purchased for $1.5 million. The monthly trading volume of all Axie Infinity NFTs is around $170 million.
There is another cryptocurrency related to the game. It is called the Axie Infinity shard (AXS). Investors in AXS can vote in the governance of the game’s ecosystem and can also use it to gain a stake in the community treasury. Recently, AXS has been growing at an impressive pace. In recent weeks, the currency has grown more than six times.
Here I’d like to return to the comparison of earn-to-play games with old-fashioned economic models like the one in World of Warcraft. Instead of uncontrolled, grey, and unaffiliated trades, Axie Infinity provides a comfortable and legit way to buy and sell game assets. It’s important that it’s a win-win situation — players can trade without the risk of getting banned or scammed and the developer gets all the profits of running the infrastructure.
More Play 2 Earn Games
In addition to Axie Infinity, there is another popular play-to-earn game that has gathered a whole community of fans around.
It’s about CryptoKitties. In this game, digital cats are the main value: they are bought, bred, and sold for Ethereum. These cats are NFTs that serve as a source of wealth not only for developers but also for the community. The most expensive crypto kitten at the moment is called Dragon and was sold for ETH600 (about $170 thousand).
Play-to-earn games also create communities where players and creators can meet, share wisdom, and close deals. A good example here is The Sandbox, which is similar to Minecraft. Players can create items there and exchange them as NFTs.
The economic model of this game is based on its own cryptocurrency, SAND. One of the ways to earn SAND is by selling digital real estate (LAND), which players can display in a storefront to share their experiences with other users. As reported by The Sandbox, in February this year alone, as many as 2,352 LAND parcels were sold with a total value of $ 2.8 million.
It’s also important to note that big brands see the potential to be part of this growing market. For example, The Walking Dead franchise is coming to the platform soon. Users will be able to visit the zombie world in the game, which, according to The Sandbox, is a step towards creating a “virtual amusement park”. Brands like these are likely to attract a wider audience to the platform.
So What is Play2Earn?
To sum up: the play-to-earn economic model lets the players create new digital assets and trade them via the game’s infrastructure.
More, in the games using the play-to-earn model players can earn virtual in-game currency which is liquid, and can be pretty easily sold for other cryptocurrencies and fiat currencies.
Nowadays this new game market model is just emerging, but it looks like it will be popular for a long time. Many games have supported online communities in the past, but by adding the ability to generate a financial gain, play-to-earn games can make the communities much more active.
As I said, the trend is just starting and I think that keeping an eye on play-to-earn projects might be beneficial for you.
And, as usual, don’t forget to do your own research.
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