Definition | Games to earn – NFT games – blockchain games – NFT games

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

A big trend has been the emergence of games play to earn (literally: play to win). To put it simply, we can say that you traditionally have to pay to play. Fashionable play to earnI’equation is the other way around: it is the player who is rewarded for his performance in the game. In fact, the difference is not as obvious as some games play to earn requires a sometimes significant initial investment.

Playlists and rankings play to earn appear on sites such as:

A little history

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

Subsequently, games like Zynga’s Farmville concept took up the concept in a more open way: the games were free, but players who lacked time and were impatient for progress were offered the opportunity to purchase virtual goods.

Similarly, the multiplayer game Eve Oline has gradually developed a large 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 valued items or devices.

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

The principle of “play to earn”

A game that appeared in 2017 changed that. Dapper Labs, launched CryptoKittiesa Application buying and selling virtual kittens, with the option to mate them. Each of these kittens has what corresponds to one DNA unique. Their clutch can lead to billions of opportunities. CryptoKitties was hugely successful and went so far as to cause saturation of the Ethereum blockchain – on which it was based – for many days. Some CryptoKitties have gained value due to their rarity – on November 4, 2018, Kitty # 896775, (called Dragon) was even sold for 600 Ether, equivalent to $ 172,794 by CryptoKitties. The game thus gave birth to NFTs, but also gave a first idea of ​​what one 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, weapons, etc. And to the extent that an NFT makes the item unique, it can acquire value.

Game” play to earn are games based on blockchain technology, and more specifically on NFTs. Thus in Decentraland a metavers that hosts activities of the type play to earn, the smallest reason, the smallest object, the smallest resource can be considered an NFT and therefore sold to the highest bidder, whether it is 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.

What activities give rise to rewards?

In a play to earnplayers can earn cryptocurrencies via various activities:

  • raising creatures;
  • win battles or challenges;
  • go in search of specific information or items;
  • play games like poker or bridge ;
  • collect cards etc.

The remuneration is usually tokens that are specific to a given game, for example MANA in Decentraland or 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 earnespecially Sorare, allows the player to start for free, but others, especially Axie Infinity, require an initial investment on the part of the players, which can be significant – we return to this.

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

The income provided 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 divided into three different families.

  • Some, like Cryptokitties or Axie Infinity, are independent, which means they are not dependent on an existing platform.
  • Some, such as The Sandbox or Decentraland, are metaverser either virtual universes where quests are offered to the player, allowing them to earn local currency.
  • Others are integrated into an already existing metaverse. This is the case with Atari Casino, which is an accessible gaming area in Decentraland or Town Star in The Sandbox.

A windbreak for underdeveloped countries

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

In Argentina, the increase in consumer prices was thus 50.9% in 2021, and therefore an average wage does not meet the needs of the family. Residents of this country have therefore turned to games like the casino in Decentraland. Similarly, citizens in Brazil and Venezuela as well as in the Philippines have chosen to fight battles on Axie Infinity 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 was as follows: thousands of South Americans receive “account delegations” from players from Germany or North America. The latter takes a portion of the money earned.

At BloombergFranco Villaflor, en dj Argentine explained that he played three hours of poker a day at Decentraland on behalf of an American. When he first pays 40% of his earnings to the account owner, he is left with about $ 1,500 a month, which is equivalent to what he normally earns as a DJ!

Still young technology

According to a report from Blockchain Gaming Alliance (BGA)the number of people playing play to earn counted 1.17 million people in 1eh quarter 2022. It may not seem like much in itself, but represents an increase of 2,000% in one year. Also, according to the BGA, these games generated $ 2.32 billion in the third quarter of 2021.

Of necessity, many brands are interested in these games with a new flavor. Nike – which acquired the creative studio RTFKT in late 2021 – is interested in hiring high-level players who would carry its branded products. Warner Bros, Adidas and HSBC have acquired land in The Sandbox to promote gaming experiences in this metavers.

Only the world of the game is left play to earn is still young and that it is not immune to a few ups and downs in adolescence. In April 2022, the platform became so Axie Infinity has been exempted from the equivalent of 176,300 ETH, or the equivalent of $ 600 million, by a hacker. The Formula 1 F1 game Delta Time from Animoca Brands, for its part, did not renew its F1 license and therefore had to stop operating on March 15, 2022 – as the players had spent tens of thousands of dollars. The publisher offered to compensate players by swapping their F1 Delta Time tokens for tokens from other house games. However, this episode highlighted one of the potential weaknesses of games that include branded NFTs.

It also seems that some in the gaming community do not necessarily see a good one eye the emergence of games play to earn. Ubisoft experienced some setbacks when they announced Quartza gaming platform play to earn. That resistance came from its community, but also from employees, worried about seeing Ubisoft go in a direction that could make it unpopular with some players. For its part, Team17, publisher of the game Worms, announced in February 2022 the arrival of NFT in this game, and then had to see the dissatisfaction in its community – the project was buried.

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