Published för 2 år sedan • 7 minute read

GameFi Is Evolving From Play-to-Earn to Play *And* Earn And That’s Good

 Playing games always used to be viewed as a completely unproductive activity. Countless parents have asked their teenage sons: “How the hell are you ever going to earn any money if you spend all of your time playing bloody games?” 

The prevailing view is that computer games are a waste of time and that they don’t actually get you anywhere in life. Aside from the highest levels of eSports, there’s no way to make money staring at a computer game, and so your time is better spent on more productive things. 

With the rise of play-to-earn games, that view has changed. Through the integration of blockchain and cryptocurrency, teenagers the world over suddenly have an excuse to waste their precious hours sitting in front of their PCs, earning digital rewards that can be converted into real life money. 

 Play-to-earn gaming has made titles like Axie Infinity world famous. Axie Infinity is a card collecting game, where players acquire “monsters” represented by NFTs. They can use their monsters to fight those of other players, earning cryptocurrency when they successfully beat their opponents and complete various daily challenges. There’s more to it than that, with players able to trade their cards, upgrade them and breed new monsters. The most important aspect though is that the rewards they earn in AXIE tokens can be exchanged for Bitcoin or Ethereum and then sold for fiat cash. 

Axie Infinity’s rise has enabled thousands of gamers to earn a living doing nothing more than playing games. Some players in the Philippines, where the game is especially popular, report earning thousands of dollars each month through the game. In a country where the cost of living is far cheaper than that of the west, that’s certainly not a bad income. 

The idea of being rewarded for playing games would seem certain to be a hit with millions of teenagers worldwide. Strangely though, that hasn’t happened. Play-to-earn games remain but a niche within the wider video games industry due to a number of fundamental issues. 

The biggest problem that traditional video game players have is that play-to-earn games simply aren’t that much fun. For many people, playing video games was never meant to be a money-making endeavor. They want to play games to have fun and relax, and existing crypto games just don’t cut the mustard. Added to that, not everyone needs the money anyway - many gamers already have a very substantial income, or they have rich parents, so they’re not incentivized to try and earn by playing games they don’t enjoy. 

In a nutshell, the lack of enjoyment is one of the major problems associated with the top play-to-earn games. A simple Google search reveals that the internet is littered with complaints over the boring gameplay in Axie Infinity, which is characterized by the repetitive nature of its battles.

The dull gameplay is believed to be the primary factor behind the waning interest in Axie Infinity. An April report by Nansen shows that demand for Axie NFTs appears to be in decline, with around a third of those created in 2021 losing a considerable amount of value. So much so that many NFTs are now being sold at prices that do not even cover the costs of minting them. Add to that, Axie Infinity downloads are now much lower than they were this time last year. 

There are other problems with the play-to-earn gaming model around accessibility too. Because the NFTs required to play many games are very expensive, gaming guilds have arisen that offer scholarships to the most talented players. The idea is that scholars can rent an NFT to start playing in return for a share of the income they generate. However, there is a lot of competition for these scholarships, and it means many gamers who would like to compete do not have a chance to do so. 

A third problem is that most players are only in it for the money. Many play-to-earn games were designed around the idea that players would reinvest their earnings back into the game. However, much of the money earned by players is simply cashed out, hampering ecosystem growth. 

The negative perception of play-to-earn games has backfired on some developers who have attempted to implement the concept in better known games. For example, Ubisoft’s unpopular Ghost Recon NFTs were portrayed extremely negatively and largely shunned by the game’s fan base. 

Revamping GameFi With Play *And* Earn

Despite these problems, many video game developers see great potential for the integration of blockchain and crypto rewards. To overcome the negativity, the industry is slowly but surely pivoting away from play-to-earn towards a newer “play *and* earn” model that’s more focused on gameplay. What it means is the virtual items tokenized as NFTs become just a bonus in games that offer more compelling action. After all, most gamers just want to enjoy playing a game - they have no interest in doing something they perceive to be a chore. 

So what makes a play-and-earn game different from play-to-earn? Quite simply, the same things that go into typical top video games - great gameplay, great graphics, a strong community and a compelling storyline.

All four elements are present and correct in Infinity Skies, a new fantasy building game that’s seen as a mix of The Sims, Animal Cross and Diablo, where players must combine their individual creativity and imagination with their socio-economic ability to succeed. Within Infinity Skies, each player gets to own their own island on which they’re tasked with building an enormous castle that soars far above the cloud tops. 

NFTs are a key element of Infinity Skies because they represent each building block and item of furniture that players used to build and decorate their castles. These NFTs all have monetary value and can be bought and sold, yet the main focus is the gameplay itself. The bigger challenge is to come out tops in the popularity stakes. That’s because Infinity Skies is more akin to a metaverse that anyone can visit. So players have to ensure their castle is more fantastic than anyone else’s to receive prestige points from visitors. Whoever has the most points at the end of each month becomes both incredibly popular, and wins unique and incredibly rare NFT resources.

The playability factor is a key reason why Splinterlands, one of the original play-to-earn games, continues to make waves amid the rise of play-and-earn. Splinterlands is currently ranked as the most popular blockchain game in the world in terms of its user base, having recently set a record by generating $2.32 million in daily rentals, a record for blockchain NFTs. 

Splinterlands has achieved this status because there’s so much more to the game than just winning rewards. It’s an incredibly addictive game that sees players collect teams of monsters and then pit them against others in strategic one-on-one battles where big rewards are on offer to the victor. Perhaps the best thing about Splinterlands is its huge variety - there are an astonishing 249 individual monsters to collect and hunt. Given the high level of playability, it’s no surprise that people are looking to cash in on it any way that they can. Last month, it raised over $4 million through the sale of validator nodes that allow people to earn Splinterlands’ SPS tokens in return for running its node software and validating its blockchain network. 

Further, Splinterlands also improves accessibility with the game being available to anyone who wants to play, free of charge. To access the rewards features, users are however required to purchase a Summoner’s Book NFT.

Another fun project that’s solving the problem of accessibility is Affyn, which gives new players the chance to mint their own NFT-based “Buddies” for free and start playing its metaverse game Nexus World. 

Nexus World is an innovative game that leverages augmented reality to create a mobile metaverse that’s mapped to the real world. There, players can explore, play games and participate in new activities according to their geolocation. It borrows elements from the popular Pokemon Go game too, planting free Buddies in real-world shopping malls. Players have to go to the mall and hunt for Buddies using an augmented reality lens. As a final benefit, Affyn allows players to earn FYN cryptocurrency in Nexus World and spend it in the real world. To enable this, it has built up an ecosystem of partners in the entertainment, shopping, travel and dining industries that provide special privileges and benefits to users who pay for services in FYN tokens.  

GameFi Is The Future

Having initially taken the world by storm the play-to-earn gaming industry has suffered a few knocks as people realize that there’s more to gaming than simply earning money. But the concept is not going away. Instead, it’s evolving with the arrival of a new breed of games that put gameplay first, with the earnings potential an add-on that ensures the most dedicated and successful players are rewarded for their efforts. 

As such, many prominent people, including Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, have stated their belief that blockchain will inevitably be integrated with every game in the future. 

As Ohanian sees it, NFTs and cryptocurrency will emerge to replace the old monetization paradigm of existing games, such as advertising and in-game items that players must purchase to become stronger. However, he said game developers need to ensure that these potentially lucrative new monetization channels do not undermine the fundamental value proposition of games - namely a compelling, delightful experience. 

“In five years, you will actually value your time properly,” Ohanian told Business Insider in a recent interview. “Instead of being harvested for advertisements, or being fleeced for dollars to buy stupid hammers you don’t actually own, you will be playing some on-chain equivalent game that will be just as fun, but you’ll actually earn value and you will be the harvester.”



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