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What is Play-to-Earn gaming?

Play-to-earn is a blockchain-based gaming model where players earn rewards for playing games. Unlike the modern gaming industry, play-to-earn rewards both developers and players. Play-to-earn games are another form of decentralized finance where all participants can earn.

How does it work?

Play-to-earn gaming is a means of achieving the main aim of blockchain technology – the decentralization of money. For traditional video games, only the company and its owners make money. These companies earn billions of dollars while players only have fun and nothing more.

Play-to-earn gaming changes this narrative thanks to blockchain technology. Players can now make real money in crypto or non-fungible tokens. Therefore, players don’t just whirl away time in the name of having “fun”; they also earn value.

Blockchain technology provides the most suitable ground for play to earn to thrive. Cryptocurrencies and other blockchain-based assets have exceptional features ideal for the play-to-earn industry. These blockchain features include:

  1. NFTs – play-to-earn projects, sell NFTs as game characters or issue them to players as rewards.
  1. Crypto staking – native cryptocurrencies of play to earn games serve as governance tokens. Players who wish to participate in the decision-making process of a play-to-earn project will have to stake their coins on the project’s website. Moreover, some projects require players to own their native tokens and stake them before they can earn rewards for playing.
  1. Record keeping – since no one can erase blockchain records, accountability is easy for players and game developers.  

Traditional or Play-to-Earn Games

Traditional video games make money by offering players premium features or characters to improve their gaming experiences such as cosmetics, enhanced tools, or additional gameplay. However, Play-to-Earn games have a different kind of approach to making money off players. 

Regular video games give the right of all assets and characters in the game to the company. These assets are only helpful for gameplay and nothing more. However, players own the right to the characters they purchase in a play-to-earn game.

For play to earn, characters, equipment, machinery, and most gaming assets are NFTs (non-fungible tokens). Therefore, game developers receive a royalty fee whenever players sell these characters and gaming equipment on NFT marketplaces.

Play-to-Earn gaming and NFTs

Non-fungible tokens are blockchain assets that cannot be duplicated and can only belong to one person at a time. Hence, NFTs are an essential part of the play-to-earn industry. Players need NFTs for two reasons:

  1. Full gaming access – some games might be free-to-play. However, most games require that players purchase unique characters to navigate their world or play games. Likewise, free-to-play games might ask players to buy these characters before gaining full access to the game or earning rewards. The characters or gaming equipment will be in the form of NFTs. Therefore, players will have an absolute right to these assets and can even sell them.
  1. NFTs as rewards – play to earn games aim to reward players. Player earnings can be in the form of an NFT, and each game has a way of issuing its rewards. NFTs earned from a game can be sold to other players on the platform or in an NFT marketplace. Moreover, some games allow players to stake their NFTs for additional incentives.

Why Play-to-earn?

So far in modern gaming history, players have spent their time and money to enrich game developers. On the contrary, play-to-earn changes the narrative. Players now receive value in return for the time and money spent on games. Moreso, video games can now serve as a source of living.

Top Play-to-Earn Platforms

Axie Infinity

Currently the most prominent play-to-earn gaming platform, the Axie team launched its first game in October 2018. Over 1.5 million active players use Axie Infinity daily, holding more than 2.5 million Axie. Axie Infinity utilizes blockchain technology for its three main features: Axies (NFTs), governance tokens, and reward tokens.

Axies are non-fungible tokens that serve as the main characters of the game. Players need to purchase three Axies before they can start the game. Axie Infinity Shards (AXS) is the native token for the Axie Universe.

AXS holders can stake their tokens in return for voting power in the project’s decision-making process and other rewards. Smooth Love Potion (SLP) is the reward token for players on Axie Infinity. Users earn SLP by playing in the PvP Arena of the Axie Universe. Meanwhile, players can withdraw and sell their SLP tokens or use them for breeding Axies.

Alien Worlds

This is a play-to-earn game that rewards players for exploring their metaverse platform and competing with other players. Alien Worlds rewards players with their native token, Trilium (TLM).

Players need to acquire NFTs to connect with others, play, and earn. Trilium is also a governance token that gives power to players in the Planet Decentralized Autonomous Organization (Planet DAO).

The game is a multi-chain platform integrated with Binance Smart Chain, WAX, and Ethereum blockchain. So, players who cannot afford ETH gas fees can opt for other blockchains.

The Sandbox

The Sandbox is a virtual real-estate and play-to-earn platform. It is a multiplayer game where you can earn crypto by building assets and creating games. Land available on The Sandbox is limited to a fixed supply of 166,464 parcels. The parcels of land and other properties are non-fungible tokens that players can sell. Players can purchase land and develop it to increase its value or rent it to others. 

SAND is a governance token and the only medium of exchange on The Sandbox. SAND is an Ethereum network token with a maximum supply of 3 billion coins.

Players need SAND to buy real estate, in-game assets, and pay to play games. Also, players can earn SAND by renting, leasing, and reselling their piece of land. Furthermore, Sandbox offers tools to design games without the knowledge of coding.

The Sandbox supports talented game designers and artists by organizing design contests. Additionally, anyone can earn SAND by participating in the Sandbox tournaments and game events.


Curious about how to create in SandBox? Learn about how SandStorm is connecting the world’s top brands with metaverse creators.

Gods Unchained

This is a free-to-play game where players compete through ranks and earn tradable cards. Furthermore, players also gain ownership of the in-game assets they acquire. By winning in the weekly tournaments, players can forge their pack of cards into NFTs with real value. Furthermore, in-game purchases are sellable on the Gods Unchained marketplace.

GODS is an ERC-20 token that serves as the governance and reward token of Gods Unchained. Occasionally, the project organizes events where players can win GODS tokens for their participation.

Gala Games

Gala Games is a play-to-earn platform that claims to give partial ownership to players. Several games are available on this platform, including action, superheroes, music, and farming games. Gala Games is also an NFT marketplace where players can purchase gaming assets in the form of NFTs.

GALA is a reward and governance token for Gala Games. Players who receive GALA tokens can stake them to earn voting rights.


Play to earn is an emerging industry with potential for massive growth in the coming years. This business model is likely to attract more large investors to the metaverse. No doubt, no video game lover will despise the idea of making a living while having fun.

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