Definition | Play to earn – NFT games – blockchain games – NFT games | Futura Tech

The performance of the video game sector continues to progress. The market is valued at $200 billion in 2024 according to VentureBeat and this hobby occupies a major place in the existence of many people.

A big trend has been the rise of games play to earn (literally: play to win). To put it simply, we could say that traditionally you had to pay to play. In fashion play to earnI’equation is reversed: it is the player who is rewarded for his performance in the game. In reality, the difference is not as clear cut because certain games play to earn require a sometimes significant initial investment.

Game lists and rankings play to earn appear on sites such as:

A little history

Being able to resell elements acquired in a game is not new but in the past, this practice was rather badly perceived by publishers. Thus, the online game World of Warcraft has seen the development of gold farm », or pharmacies in which for a pitiful salary, small hands were busy collecting virtual gold from World of Warcraft (WOW). They landed in a remote place in the territory of Azeroth and devoted themselves to killing monsters for 12 hours a day. At the same time, a New York site,, bought up items and statuses that some players were willing to give up and resold them at twice the negotiated price – for example, a level 70 was commonly sold for around two hundred euros. The gold farmers appeared as a plague for the usual players who reproached them for not “socializing” with them. Moreover, such a practice appeared to be contrary to the publisher’s policies. Blizzard who proceeded to delete tens of thousands of accounts. In the spring of 2007, a game patch appeared in order to combat the gold farming and Blizzard even filed a lawsuit against the organization that ran – that site has been dead for a long time.

Subsequently, games like Zynga’s Farmville took up the concept in a more open way: the games were free, but players lacking time and impatient to progress were offered the possibility of buying virtual goods.

Similarly, the multiplayer game Eve Oline has gradually developed a vast internal trade in objects between its participants and has seen this activity spill over into the real world: some players have paid tens of thousands of dollars to acquire highly prized objects or devices.

The market was therefore ripe for such an activity, but a framework was missing and this was provided by the NFT.

The principle of “play to earn”

A game that appeared in 2017 changed that. Dapper Labs, launched CryptoKittiesa application purchase and sale of virtual kittens, with the possibility of mating them. Each of these kittens has the equivalent of a DNA unique. Their coupling can lead to billions of possibilities. CryptoKitties was immensely successful, going so far as to cause saturation of the Ethereum blockchain – on which it was based – for many days. Some CryptoKitties, due to their rarity, have gained value – on November 4, 2018, Kitty #896775, (nicknamed Dragon) was even sold for 600 Ether, equivalent to $172,794 of the CryptoKitties. ‘era. The game thus gave birth to NFTs, but also gave a first idea of ​​what a play to earn.

In fact, the success of CryptoKitties led several game publishers to understand that any element of a game could be represented by an NFT: equipment, territory, weapon, etc. And to the extent that an NFT makes that item unique, it can acquire value.

Games ” play to earn are games based on blockchain technology, and more specifically on NFTs. Thus, in Decentraland, a metaverse that hosts activities of the type play to earn, the smallest plot of land, the smallest object, the smallest resource can be considered an NFT and therefore be sold to the highest bidder, whether from the game itself or on a trading platform. In April 2022, a creature from Axie Infinity (Dragon Axie) found a buyer for 750 ETH or 2 million euros.

Which activities give rise to rewards?

In a play to earnplayers can earn crypto-assets via various activities:

  • raising creatures;
  • win battles or challenges;
  • go hunting for specific information or elements;
  • play games such as poker or bridge ;
  • collect cards, etc.

The remunerations are usually tokens specific to a given game, for example the MANA in Decentraland or the SAND in Sandbox. However, some games play to earn offer to get rewards in the form of NFTs.

A large number of games play to earnin particular Sorare, allow the player to start for free but others, in particular Axie Infinity, require an initial investment on the part of the players, which can be substantial – we will come back to this.

Not everyone likes to play, but that doesn’t stop some from indirectly participating in the rating of games like Axie Infinity. They can buy a game’s own currency hoping it will increase in value, or they can buy NFTs such as accessories in the hope of reselling them later. Thus, on an NFT sales platform such as OpenSea or Rarible, it is possible to buy plots of land or clothing that can be used in Decentraland.

The income gleaned via game currency play to earn can be exchanged for major cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum or Bitcoin or even againstmoney traditional such as the dollar or the euro.

Overall the games play to earn can be classified into three different families.

  • Some, like Cryptokitties or Axie Infinity, are standalone, meaning they don’t depend on a pre-existing platform.
  • Some, such as The Sandbox or Decentraland, are metaverses either virtual universes in which quests are offered to the player, allowing them to earn local currency.
  • Others are integrated into a pre-existing metaverse. This is the case of Atari Casino which is an accessible gaming space in Decentraland or of Town Star in The Sandbox.

A windfall for underdeveloped countries

Amazingly, playing games like Axie Infinity quickly became a major source of income for citizens of countries with high inflation. In such countries, the play to earn were seen as significant additional sources of income.

Thus, in Argentina, the rise in consumer prices was 50.9% in 2021 and therefore, an average salary does not meet the needs of the family. Residents of this country have therefore turned to games such as the casino present in Decentraland. Similarly, in Brazil and Venezuela as well as in the Philippines, citizens have chosen to fight battles on Axie Infinity in order to earn house tokens.

The problem with some games is that the initial bet is high: around $5,200 to start on Axie Infinity. To get around the problem, the solution found was as follows: thousands of South Americans receive “account delegations” from players from Germany or North America. The latter take part of the money earned.

On BloombergFranco Villaflor, a dj Argentinian explained that he played three hours a day of poker on Decentraland on behalf of an American. Once he pays 40% of his earnings to the account owner, he’s left with around $1,500 per month, which is the equivalent of what he usually earns as a DJ!

Still young technology

According to a report by Blockchain Gaming Alliance (BGA)the number of people playing play to earn numbered 1.17 million people in 1er quarter of 2022. This might not seem like a lot in itself, but represents an increase of 2,000% in one year. Also according to the BGA, these games generated $ 2.32 billion during the third quarter of 2021.

By necessity, many brands are interested in these games of a new taste. Nike – which bought creative studio RTFKT at the end of 2021 – is interested in employing high-level players who would wear its branded accessories. Warner Bros, Adidas and HSBC have acquired land in The Sandbox in order to be able to promote gaming experiences in this metaverse.

Only the world of games remains play to earn is still young and that it is not immune to a few ups and downs of youth. Thus, in April 2022, the platform Axie Infinity has been relieved of the equivalent of 176,300 ETH, or the equivalent of $600 million, by a hacker. For its part, the Formula 1 F1 game Delta Time from Animoca Brands did not have its F1 license renewed and therefore had to cease operating on March 15, 2022 – when players had spent tens of thousands of dollars. The publisher offered to compensate players by exchanging their F1 Delta Time tokens for tokens from other house games. Still, this episode highlighted one of the potential weaknesses of games that include branded NFTs.

It would also seem that in the gaming community, some do not necessarily see a good eye the advent of games play to earn. Ubisoft experienced some setbacks when announcing Quartza gaming platform play to earn. The resistance came from its community but also from employees, worried to see Ubisoft going in a direction that could make it unpopular with some players. For its part, in February 2022, Team17, publisher of the game Worms, announced the arrival of NFT in this game, and then had to face the discontent of its community – the project was buried.

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Definition | Play to earn – NFT games – blockchain games – NFT games | Futura Tech

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