The world of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies has witnessed tremendous growth in recent years, with the climaxes between 2020 to 2021. While the popular categories like financial services (exchanges, lending, and payment methods) still dominate, innovative approaches have seen the crypto world foray into a ton of real-world use cases, from art to entertainment to data management. Non-fungible tokens are now popular, as content tokenization continues to gain remarkable traction in the world of entertainment. The gaming industry is not left behind, growing in leaps and bounds between 2020-2021.
Play-to-earn games have taken center stage in the crypto space in 2021, with a flurry of activity that has seen the likes of Axie Infinity record revenue volumes of over $700 million. Other gaming sensations have also recorded impressive numbers, making the sector boom with developers building and launching games on several blockchain networks. Although games have been in the crypto space for a while now, the play-to-earn model, and the fusion of NFTs into gaming ecosystems have only served to draw the attention of many crypto enthusiasts. To understand the appeal of play-to-earn NFT games and how they work, the basics that form the core of such projects need to be properly understood.
What are NFTs?
Non-fungible tokens are a cryptocurrency standard that differs from the norm, such that they are unique, and cannot be transferred in slivers. When unique items like content or a work of art (music, a video, or an artwork) are cryptographically stored on the blockchain, they are known as non-fungible tokens. NFTs are unique, which makes them advantageous for content creators, as no two versions of the same non-fungible token can ever exist. Even if there is a collection of identical NFTs, each one retains one-of-a-kind metadata that cannot be duplicated.
NFTs have been introduced into blockchain games for some time now, serving as in-game assets, trading cards, and rewards. The fusion of NFTs and decentralized finance into blockchain games gave rise to the play-to-earn phenomenon.
What is Play-to-earn All About?
Video games are a major source of recreation globally, especially for young people. Ever since the gaming industry experienced a boom in the 90s— the era of gaming consoles, cartridges, 8-bit and 32-bit graphics— studios have continued to up the tempo and increase the quality of new releases. Yet, while video games and smartphone games have been psychologically rewarding, they have hardly made anyone richer, except through occasional tournaments that reward the best of the best. Players even had to make in-game purchases with their credit/debit cards, and they never truly owned whatever assets they acquired within the game.
The play-to-earn gaming model changes all of that. Gamers can now earn real money— in crypto, of course— for playing, own in-game assets and rewards as NFTs with full control over their assets, and explore the world of DeFi within the game. Essentially, the play-to-earn model rewards gamers for their skills, and even the time spent playing.
Players also enjoy exposure to DeFi services like farming, liquidity mining, and staking. In some game setups, players stake the in-game currency to earn rewards in tokens and NFTs. In others, gamers can stake their NFTs and receive rewards in tokens or other in-game assets. Gamers can also rent their assets to other gamers, and earn commissions from their winnings. Play-to-earn games combine the beauty of gaming and decentralized finance, creating a profitable journey for every gamer.
How Does The Play-to-earn Model Work?
Blockchain technology makes it possible for gamers to earn real rewards for playing, without compromising their identities, or bank accounts— regular games will require players to connect their cards to make purchases. While players can only participate by connecting their crypto wallets to the in-game setup, authorization and transaction approval rests in the hands of the gamers. Most importantly, play-to-earn is facilitated by the use of smart contracts.
A key component of the blockchain, smart contracts ensure the smooth running of decentralized applications. Milestones can be programmed to a smart contract such that when a player reaches a particular achievement, the smart contract initiates a reward transaction straight to the player’s wallet. No third-party involvements are needed, and the entire process poses no danger to either player or game. The gameplay is governed by these smart contracts, programs, and codes, and there can be no accusation of manipulation from the developer, except a bug is detected in the code.
What are In-game NFTs?
Gamers generally love to be rewarded, and when these rewards come in the form of cryptocurrencies and NFTs which they have full control over, it is even more interesting. In play-to-earn NFT games, an in-game currency, and in-game assets, which are NFTs, are the rewards available for players. In games that combine the play-to-earn model with NFTs, the assets in the game’s ecosystem— gameplay, marketplace, training— are all non-fungible tokens, giving the players full control over their assets.
Players can buy, sell, rent, and upgrade their in-game NFTs, or even transfer them from one wallet to another. Most games liaise with established NFT marketplaces for the trading of assets gotten from the game, while others have a marketplace within the game’s ecosystem.
Play-to-earn NFT games generally come in two categories: free-to-play and pay-to-play games. As their names suggest, free-to-play games do not require an initial investment for players to participate, while pay-to-play games largely require gamers to buy characters, assets, or tokens to start playing and earning.
The Future of Play-to-earn NFT Games
Several games are beginning to propose the idea of a metaverse— a virtual world experience in which players will fully participate— while some like The Sandbox already feature virtual reality. As gaming studios turn towards creating whole new fictional worlds for blockchain games, many believe play-to-earn NFT games are only getting started. The blockchain gaming industry is proposed to be worth over $250 billion in 2026, and the development of metaverse-themed games appears to be a catalyst for the projected growth.
Play-to-earn NFT games are the future of blockchain gaming, giving players a host of opportunities to earn rewards for their time and resources.