What Is a Play-to-Earn Game?

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P2E blockchain games utilize these technologies in a very exciting way and offer a lot of potential for massive adaptation by players worldwide. 

As the name implies, these games allow players to earn while playing, but how does this all work? Is it a scam? What’s the catch? These are probably questions that you’re asking yourself. Don’t worry – in this post, we’ll talk about everything that you want to know. 

Play-to-earn games explained 

Play-to-earn crypto games are designed for adults, and these games allow players to earn NFTs or crypto coins by playing them. This is a unique concept because players have never before been able to earn through games like this. 

Of course, players could acquire cryptocurrencies in the past and sell them, but blockchain and crypto play-to-earn games are taking the industry to a new level. Some of the first versions of NFTs first appeared in 2011. 

At that point, Colored Coins were released, and with them, users could prove that they were owners of a real-world asset. That gave birth to an idea… could it be possible to claim ownership of something and use it in the digital world? 

» Learn more: Blockchain Gaming Guide for Beginners

What makes them different than regular games

When it comes to gameplay, play-to-earn games and traditional games can be almost identical. First of all, play-to-earn games have a lot of different genres, including MMO, RPG, strategy, shooter, puzzle, card games, indie, simulation, and other types of games

In terms of what kind of players would be attracted to these games, the answer is – all of them. The market is growing quickly, and there’s something for everyone. Whether you like dynamic, action-packed games or like to relax and gather some coins, you are bound to find a game that you’ll enjoy.

However, there are differences that you should keep in mind:

1. They require a cryptocurrency wallet 

One of the differences is that play-to-earn games often require players to have an e-wallet and sometimes even require that they pay with crypto to join the game. However, that’s usually a fair deal because buying standard games can be a lot more expensive. 

Make sure to check which blockchain the game uses before you begin playing and open up a wallet that can work with that blockchain. Some games don’t require users to have an e-wallet, but that means that they can’t access the pay-to-earn features.

2. It’s possible to earn NFTs and tokens  

Depending on the game and its design, you could earn NFTs, crypto coins, or both. This is something that no traditional game would allow you to do. Also, since you are earning these assets, it’s possible to exchange them for fiat currencies.

3. Some games let you become involved 

Many of these games already have their own tokens that players can buy. In some games, buying these tokens means getting a voice among the holders and providing ideas about the game development, roadmap, and so much more. 

4. Metaverse play-to-earn games 

Many people heard the term “metaverse” for the first time when Mark Zuckerberg announced the changes that will be happening at Facebook. However, this isn’t a term that Facebook invented. Metaverses are digital realities where people can do various things, finish quests, earn tokens, shop, and trade. 

Many pay-to-earn games have metaverses based on blockchain, and most of them are MMO games with large open worlds. 

NFTs in blockchain games

Non-fungible tokens are digital assets. These pieces of content are connected to the blockchain, but NFTs aren’t cryptocurrencies. They can be all kinds of digital assets that have their place on the blockchain. When it comes to games, NFTs have a wide application

In most cases, play-to-earn games have NFTs that are items, heroes, cards, properties, and other assets within the game. The basic principle is quite simple – players play the game, and as they progress and invest their time, they earn the NFTs of that game

Players can trade those NFTs, buy them, and sell them on the market within the game. These NFTs can also be sold for cryptocurrencies, but the most important thing to know is that an NFT gives the player total ownership of the asset they have from the game and complete control over it. 

Since NFTs are based on the blockchain, these assets are completely secured and stored on a distributed digital ledger. At first, NFTs were only available on the Ethereum blockchain, but today they can be found on various platforms.

» Learn more: A guide to NFT games

Blockchain (crypto) games

Since gaming NFTs are directly connected to the supporting blockchain platform, it’s important to understand blockchain. Blockchain is a large system used for storing and recording data on “blocks.” 

This whole network has a lot of computers because of its distributed nature. In other words, all of the NFTs that are stored are spread across many different devices. All of the data about these NFTs and their transactions are tracked. 

Whenever you acquire an NFT, it’s stored in the distributed ledger and kept secure, but you can use this asset whenever you want with total privacy and security. At the same time, play-to-earn crypto games also use blockchain to allow players to acquire cryptocurrencies and manage them as they see fit. 

Like NFTs, blockchain allows your coins to be kept secure and immutable. That’s how all of the assets that players earn are completely theirs and aren’t tied to the game. 

» Learn more: How to buy a gaming NFT

How players earn

There are many different ways these games let people earn. That’s all because of blockchain, NFTs, and smart contracts that the games are built on. Even though games with new earning systems are coming out every day, let’s take a look at some of the more common approaches: 

Earning tokens  

A lot of games let players earn simply by playing. Players only need to invest time and play the game. The more you play, the more crypto you will earn overtime. However, players don’t earn just any crypto – they earn the coin that this game and its parent blockchain offer. 

Selling NFTs 

While some games let you earn crypto coins directly, some of them let you earn NFTs while playing. As we mentioned earlier, these NFTs can be items, weapons, avatars, properties, and so on. As you gather assets over time, you probably won’t need to keep all of them. 

At the same time, some players don’t have the patience to “grind” for those items. Instead, they would want to buy them from someone else. You can sell these items to other players and earn money. 

Renting NFTs 

In some games, you don’t even have to sell your NFTs to earn. Instead, you can rent them. For example, there are games based around properties, and players need a variety of properties to perform an action. However, if they don’t have properties, they will have to use someone else’s. 

If you own such property, you can simply rent it to others and earn passive income – it’s as simple as renting a parking space. 

Boosting other players 

These games have versatile economies where players can earn in so many different ways. New players often want someone to help them level up their characters, earn better items, or simply progress in the game faster. 

It’s a matter of individuals making contracts with each other where one party helps the other achieve something in the game while the other pays them with NFTs or crypto. 

Staking in games 

Staking is a term that involves verifying crypto transactions, and this applies to games as well. In other words, a player commits the crypto of a game they are holding to support the blockchain and verify the transactions happening in the game. 

This way, you cannot use the currencies you have “staked” for anything else, but they will also earn passive income over time. In most cases, you will earn a 5–20% interest on the amount that you have staked. 

How players cash out their earnings

All of this might sound overwhelming and complicated to beginners, but it really isn’t. There are NFTs and cryptocurrencies that you can earn in a game. The value of the NFTs is determined by the game’s economy, technology, market, players, rarity, uniqueness, and so on. 

For example, if you’re playing an MMO and you acquire an item that only 1% of the players own, its value will probably be really high. To cash out on this NFT, you will have to sell it on the market for your desired price in crypto coins. 

After that, it’s simply a matter of going to the crypto exchange and turning those coins into any other crypto or fiat currency. If you are playing a game that lets you earn crypto coins directly, you only need to exchange those coins for something else. 

This is why it’s crucial to create an e-wallet account so that you can, in fact, store the NFTs and coins that you earn while being able to exchange them or even use them on other markets where you can use your wallet. 

Examples of top play-to-earn games

If you’re interested in trying out some play-to-earn games, here are some of our top picks: 

Axie Infinity

People who play Pokemon will find this game to be similar. However, in this game, you gather, train, and battle “Axies” instead of Pokemon. The game is available for PC and Android and has turn-based gameplay where players battle against each other and NPCs with their Axies. 

All of the pets have their own skills, attributes, and special abilities. Axie Infinity has the SLP token, which you can earn by playing and using for trading or exchanging. 


Splinterlands is one of the most popular pay-to-earn card games with over 100K players. It’s similar to games like Hearthstone or Magic The Gathering. To start playing, you have to create an account and connect an e-wallet. 

Cards can be traded, bought, and used for staking in the game. Winning battles earns players DEC tokens, and you can trade the cards on the market. Some tournaments offer bigger rewards. 

Gods Unchained

This is another popular card collection game using Ethereum. It has three modes, including solo, ranked, and challenge. You can earn the game’s GODS tokens by winning matches when climbing the ranking ladder, finishing daily challenges, and winning tournaments. 


We hope this article has helped you to understand just how exciting play-to-earn games can be. They don’t fall short in terms of gameplay, design, and playability in any way, and they let gamers from all around the world earn money by casually playing games. 

Article by
Artem Minaev