What is crypto play-to-earn gaming? This is your ultimate guide

The cryptocurrency space in 2021 has seen a number of different sectors literally explode with popularity. One such space is play to earn gaming. So what is this you might ask, well it’s exactly how it sounds, and in this article I will explain more about this innovative online gaming sector as well as provide you with an ultimate guide to give you a glimpse into the future.

What is Play-To-Earn gaming?

With evolutions in the crypto community and advancement in blockchain application, play-to-earn models have started to come around to make the most desired activity profitable: gaming. This is the only industry where you can earn cash through cryptocurrencies or NFTs by shooting aliens and catching (the trademark-free version of) Pokemon.

Even with the sophistication required to enter crypto, many enthusiasts are still lost figuring out how to get paid for playing games. How can I earn money by playing? Which games can I play to earn? Read on and I will guide you through the nooks and crannies of the play-to-earn (P2E) model so you can have fun accumulating.

P2E is a gaming model that financially incentivizes players to play. P2E merges Decentralized Finance (DeFi) and Gaming Finance, offering a platform for gamers to make more profits. This gaming model doubles as a business model, allowing you to invest in in-game assets, create and rent out NFTs, or play games to earn.

Gamers typically earn the native asset of the game, which is readily tradable on secondary markets (both CEXs and DEXs). Whether you'll reinvest these rewards or move to fiat is up to you because the dollar value of the assets you earn in-game usually varies with the market's ebbs and flows.

P2E could only exist on blockchains because the technology ensures transparency and security in the collectability, creation, circulation, and provable scarcity of digital assets. Nobody can duplicate your spaceship, gear, or buffs. Each digital item is non-fungible and not replicable.

Just like yield farming requires an upfront investment of collateral, P2E games require an upfront investment of time. Unlike the traditional gaming model where you buy the console and game disk or download, blockchain games can be free to play or require a minimum number of in-game assets. But to progress through the game, you have to purchase or create characters (unique avatars) and gear for the game. Raising your in-game power level (which correlates directly to earning power) is done by purchasing or upgrading your inventory and collecting artifacts.

Where’s the money coming from?

Different games have different modes of earning, but the process remains the same: play!

You can earn by playing free-to-play games and staking, farming, or minting NFT assets that you can sell on the open market. The good news is that you can play without owning the assets you'd earn. Unfortunately, this is such a new arena that we don't have a barometer of what games are worth the time and which aren't, or earning potential per hour in-game. All play-to-earn games provide potential income streams through daily tasks and player-vs-player (PVP) tournaments. Here's how to earn an income in crypto by playing games.

1) DeFi:

Different P2E games have different earning sessions built into different models. In Waves Ducks, for example, you collect duck NFTs. These ducks can mate and reproduce, gifting the owner EGG tokens. You can swap $EGG for $WAVES, hatch $EGG into ducks for breeding, or sell the token. You can also earn rewards by staking ducks.

2) Investing in in-game assets:

We can create and trade in-game assets on-chain and exchange them on decentralized platforms. These assets are typically NFTS and include characters/team members, rare collectibles, crafting materials, equipment, ammo, skill unlocks, cosmetic gear (no stat boosts, but looks cool). Think about the tools you'd need to survive a night on a mountain being chased by a yeti. The most valuable in-game assets are those that have reached their maximum potential and those that offer a clear (but often complex) path to upgrading a player's earning potential.

3) Renting out NFTs:

NFT rental marketplaces are springing up to decentralize the earning endeavour. Let’s say you own an expensive Star Atlas ship, but don’t want to play yourself. You allow gamers to own your NFT for some time and profit with it in-game. This lowers the barrier for entry for borrowers as they don't need to purchase the NFTs or invest heavily from their own pockets. This serves as a means for holders and creators to earn passive income from their idle, obsolete, or rare NFTs.

4) In-game competitions:

E-sports is a billion-dollar industry under the pay-to-play model, and it will become a prominent feature in P2E. Entrants pay an entrance fee, and if they win the competition, they take the pot.

Who's already playing?

Play-to-earn crypto games are gradually gaining publicity in the world. Gamers are loudly embracing the idea of earning directly in the games they love playing rather than figuring out how to monetize the activity through streaming, sponsorships, or competitions.

Because of the vast engagement in play-to-earn games, the online gaming industry has introduced more innovations to accommodate growth. With an active gaming community of over 1.23 billion gamers worldwide, according to Statistica, there is a ready-built market for P2E games. Waves Ducks, for example, has scaled to a gross weekly revenue of $2 million across 70,000 active players. So each player is earning $28.57 per week on average. I'd expect a bell curve effect here where practically no one makes the average amount - whales skew the earnings report.

Play-to-earn games like Axie Infinity are gradually nearing a daily user community of two million. 1.8 million gamers log onto the platform to compete and fight with other players in Player vs Environment (PvE) and Player vs Player (PvP) modes. The goal is fighting to "catch" the Axies (collect the NFT) with rewards in Smooth Love Potion ($SLP) for every win. You can trade SLP and Axies for fiat currencies or other tokens.

Blockchain gaming is currently being played by:

  1. Crypto enthusiasts looking to make bank or kill time while the market does its thing.

  2. Young entrepreneurs from 3rd world or politically, socially, and economically unstable countries.

We’re still waiting for gamers and streamers from North America and South Korea to migrate from traditional games.

Top 3 emerging P2E trends

Real World Integration

Gaming communities like Decentraland are taking blockchain gaming to another level. Some integrations allow users to order Domino’s pizza without leaving the game. This merges real-world delivery with a virtual gaming scene. Meeting your best customers where they spend the most time no doubt moves a lot of dough!

Scalability, cost, and simplicity

Blockchain gaming's critical issue is system complexity. NFT rental services reduce the high transaction costs involved in acquiring digital assets. This includes improvements that reduce energy consumption and improve scalability.

User experience

Beyond addicting mechanics and gameplay loops, the best games deliver interactive storylines. Grinding means something more when we care about the characters whose lives we inhabit. The play-to-earn crypto ecosystem is growing, from battle games to racing games and real-life integration

What tokens do P2E games pay?

Every game pays in their native token.


You earn AXS by playing games in the Axie Infinity Universe. There are different mini games in the system for you to gain as much AXS as you can. You earn by staking your tokens, playing mini games or the main game, and participating in other random activities.


EGGs are incentivized tokens earned by playing Wave Ducks. Your ducks generate the EGGs tokens. You can stake the EGGs for more rewards, hatch (mint) NFTs, or outright sell them.


SAND is an ERC-20 token available for gamers (creators, holders, and players). It’s available in the sandbox ecosystem - metaverse for fans and creators to realize their creative visions. You can create and monetize your digital assets and gaming experience.


ENJ is the native token of the popular Enjin blockchain: the very first blockchain made for gamers. Enjin provides an accelerated ecosystem for creators to develop play-to-earn games. This drives asset scarcity and creates utility, generating revenue and allowing users to earn, trade, and manage their digital assets and NFT projects.


Popularly known as the currency of the metaverse, MANA is the token that funds the Decentraland game. Players in Decentraland buy land and buildings, gamble in casinos, govern the virtual world, and reinvest their profits. Decentraland allows gamers to live a virtual life. From ordering pizza to trading art, Decentraland is an opportunity to get paid to live a vivid digital life.

Unreleased P2E Games

P2E games are still in their infancy. Many of the live games we see today are, relative to the gaming norms, simple. Here are 5 upcoming P2E games that may take this industry from simple to mind-blowing:

Demographics: Active Telegram community of 6306 members and a Twitter community of 13.2k.

Sales: Not yet launched, but a circulating supply of 200,000,000 $TRY.

Try Hards is an NFT-based play-to-earn shooter game on Polygon. You plan your strategy and shoot to earn. The game storylines center around different warriors (fanatics) from different factions on the devastated earth-like planet, Planet X.

Gamers fight to earn some precious crystals as they rise to the leaderboard. Try Hards is structured to offer gamers 100% ownership of their universe. The game is split into different categories; refinery, staking, and marketplace.

In Try Hards, you fight for glory and honour, craft your fanatics to perfection, purchase weapons, and stake to earn more $TRY.

Demographics: 165k active Twitter community

Sales: $20 million NFT ship Sale

Star Atlas is a multiplayer triple-A play-to-earn game on Solana. Powered by Unreal 5 gaming engine, It features beautiful graphics and a storyline fueled by space domination and political conquest between humans, aliens, and androids.

The game is still under development, but features lots of visuals/scenes. You can buy mining stakes, explore, mine, grow, compete and earn. Star Atlas also plans to add virtual reality to blockchain gaming.

Demographics: Active Twitter community of 30.4k

Sales: Early Stage

Chumbi Valley is a play-to-earn adventure game tackling high transaction costs as users are not expected to pay any fee to play except for transfer charges from Ethereum to Polygon. This Polygon network game is available on Android, PC, and iOS. Crypto earning in Chumbi Valley is based on farming, winning battles, breeding, and exploring the environment.

Demographics: Over 125,000 Users

Sales: Over $30 Million NFTs since 2019

Zed Run is a play-to-earn horse racing game. You purchase horses on the system, race, breed horses, and market on the Ethereum network. Zed Run is good gameplay for horse lovers as it puts the stable play fun into a virtual activity.

Demographics: 47.7k Active Twitter community

Sales: $2 Million fundraise

Chimeras is one of the play-to-earn games you should keep an eye on. Incorporating aspects of DeFi and GameFi, Chimeras offers gamers an opportunity to farm, mine, and battle creatures. The game consists of creatures, free islands, bases, mutators, picks, helmets, and flashlights. The primary incentivized token and cryptocurrency for Chimera is $CHIM.

Gamers earn by mining NFTs, buying and selling lands, winning NFTs in battle, and trading creatures on the marketplace.

Chimeras have gathered a private sale of over 330,000 $CHIM before the official public sale.

The play-to-earn crypto gaming industry is an innovative system that is growing daily with advancements and new features. This model is without question set to disrupt the gaming industry as a whole. With the surge in popularity of this model among gamers as well as crypto enthusiasts, it’s an industry that will keep getting bigger as the crypto space moves towards more mainstream acceptance.

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I'm Paul

I am on a mission to help people start a journey to financial freedom. The key to long term success is education and understanding the incredible opportunity that exists right now.

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