There is no denying that the gaming industry has been exploding in popularity in recent years, making some of the largest leaps in technological advancements seen over many of the other technology and scientific industries. We have come a long way since the days of sitting in our basements as kids and using a 2-D, pixelated plumber to jump on the heads of poor unsuspecting turtles, then for some reason, randomly disappearing down giant green pipes.
The gaming industry is now a multi-billion-dollar industry, earning more revenue than the movie and music industries combined.
While it may not be as “in your face” as sports, movies and music, according to a recent report by Accenture, the gaming industry is currently worth a whopping $300 billion dollars, pulling in $90 billion worth of revenue in 2020 alone, and is forecast to be earning a face-melting $256 billion in revenue per year by 2025. And it isn’t just that one weird kid who sat at the back of the class who smelled like Cheetos that is gaming these days, an estimated 2.7 billion people worldwide are gamers, with eSporting events such as the Dota 2 tournament raking in around 456 million viewers, clocking more viewers than the Super Bowl and the World cup! Let that sink in for a moment.
The gaming industry has been able to reach this level of success without the average gamer being able to earn anything of monetary value unless you are one of the elite, lucky few who are able to win tournaments. Imagine where the future of gaming can go now that players are actually able to partake in play to earn blockchain games, earning assets that can be converted into real-world value. While it used to be the case that the only incentive to play games were for fun, maybe some bragging rights over your friends, or to fulfil a strange desire to jump on turtles’ heads and disappear down pipes, now you can actually earn money by gaming too? Sign me up! The potential here is endless. Think about all those mothers who spent years telling their kids that video games are a waste of time and that they will never be able to make a living from it, well, it looks like that has changed. I am going to break down some of the top play to earn games already being enjoyed by millions, and give you my two sats on where I think the future of play to earn games can go with one seriously ambitious project on the horizon that could change not only gaming, but society as we know it forever.
I am going to jump straight in here with the granddaddy of them all, which is of course, Axie Infinity.
Axie Infinity is an NFT based play to earn game that erupted onto the gaming scene in 2021 and has been attracting around 300,000 new users to the platform every day. The cute and loveable characters in this game were inspired by the likes of Pokemon and Tamagotchis and will hopefully fare better than the Tamagotchi cat I had as a kid who I forgot to feed, leaving 5-year-old me traumatized as I learned about mortality before I knew how to spell my own name.
Anyway, these millions of adorable creatures called “Axies,” can be bred, raised, and of course, what fun would it be if they couldn’t battle?
Axies can fall under one of 9 categories with each category having a strength and weakness over another category. Each Axie can have 6 body parts that can be chosen from a selection of over 500 options available. Each of these body parts has 3 genes, one dominant, one minor, and one minor recessive. These genes will play a factor when it comes time to play some Barry White on the stereo and breed the Axies, as a combination of the genes will be passed down to the offspring.
Axies battle in groups of three and their battles can be tested against other players in the arena, or non-human players in adventure mode. When these savage little Axies defeat a foe, the winning player receives a small amount of Smooth Love Potion or (SLP) tokens. These SLP tokens are required to breed the Axies along with the AXS tokens.
To avoid an overpopulation/inflation problem, there is a limit to how many Axies can be bred. That limit is 7 at the time of writing, with each new offspring requiring more SLP to breed than the previous. In April of 2021, Axie Infinity migrated from the Ethereum network to the Ethereum compatible Ronin side chain which was created as a way to sidestep high Ethereum gas fees. The play to earn model rewards players for their time and effort, and in the case with Axie Infinity, players are able to sell any Axies that they don’t need on the Axie Infinity marketplace, and they can sell their SLP tokens earned from battle on exchanges such as Binance. Players are able to earn anywhere between $500 to $1000 dollars a month from playing, which has been part of the reason this game achieved worldwide mass adoption so quickly.
Now, it is important to note that there is a barrier to entry here to get started, and that is the price of actually acquiring these Axies. To get started, players need to purchase at least 3 Axies from the marketplace, and of course, the better the Axie, the higher the cost. A strong team of 3 Axies can cost upwards of $2000 US dollars. To help make this game accessible to everyone, the Axie Infinity team came up with a solution in the form of an Axie Scholarship, where Axie managers are able to lend out Axies for players who cannot afford to buy their own, and in return, the Axie managers will earn a cut of any SLP the player earns. While there are no lifetime limits on how much SLP players can earn, there is a daily limit for how much SLP can earned in adventure mode to limit players over earning, but there is no limit to how much SLP can be earned in player vs player battles.
Perhaps one of the most exciting developments about Axie Infinity is when we get into the land of Lunacia itself, the virtual world where these adorable but vicious little munchkins live.
The land in Lunacia itself is for sale, with the team still rolling out developments for expansion as they are working to create an open world that is owned and operated by players. It is this land where Axies are going to have to come together to help the princess fight off evil creatures called Chimera to save Lunacia, which will contain dungeons, different landscapes, NPC’s and even have its own governing law.
The team behind Axie plans to have this rolled out late 2021, early 2022 as we can see on their roadmap.
So there are plenty of exciting things on the way for Lunacia and its resident Axies.
Guy covered Axie Infinity in more detail and covered the tokenomics in a recent video which can be found here: Axie Infinity: The CRAZIEST Crypto Game EVER!!
CryptoBlades is an RPG with NFT crafting capabilities, PTE style gaming, with TBS fighting, skill token earning game where players can use BNB to make purchases and upgrades on the BSC network… Huh?
Sorry, got a bit carried away there with this acronym filled blockchain gaming ecosystem jargon. CryptoBlades is another game that burst onto the scene with a massive surge in popularity right from the starting line. CryptoBlades is a turn-based role-playing game that has a similar play to earn model as Axie Infinity, with the imagery of Skyrim, and the fighting style of a randomized outcome similar to a slot machine, but where the odds aren’t stacked horrendously against you.
The CryptoBlades platform is built on the Binance Smart Chain to ensure minimal fees and fast execution of transactions where players can swap BNB tokens for the in-game SKILL token using ApeSwap and use their SKILL tokens to purchase their first randomized NFT crafted character and weapon.
Each weapon is assigned an element such as fire, earth, water, or lightning, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Once a character has been chosen, players are ready to battle and this is where they earn SKILL tokens by winning these battles. SKILL tokens won in battle can be used to customize the player’s warrior and weapon, forging better weapons and creating a stronger character, therefore enabling the player to win more battles, earning more SKILL to upgrade their character further, increasing their chances to win more battles and more tokens and so on and so forth. As each character is a unique NFT, players can then choose to sell their characters and weapons on the CryptoBlades market.
Players can recruit up to four characters and one to three weapons at the blacksmith’s forge. Forging a weapon uses RNG mechanics to randomize an outcome so each new player has an equal chance of being equipped with a certain power of weapon. At the time of writing, here are the chances of being equipped with the different star level weapons:
- 5+ star @ 1% chance. Estimated cost 37.09 SKILL.
- 4+ star @ 6% chance. Estimated cost 6.18 SKILL.
- 3+ star @ 21% chance. Estimated cost 1.77 SKILL.
- 2+ star @ 56% chance. Estimated cost 0.66 SKILL.
- 1+ star @ 100% chance.
The higher the star level the more element or power attributes your weapon will be equipped with, and the attribute stats will be randomly selected on a ranging scale depending on the star level. Weapons can be re-forged as well, combining the elements and power attributes into new weapons, with the original weapon being destroyed in the process.
Now that a player has been given a warrior and forged a weapon, time for the exciting part, it is time for battle!
Combat is the main source for acquiring SKILL. Fighting consists of the player selecting their character and weapon, then selecting an enemy from a random selection automatically presented based on the player’s skill.
Once an enemy is selected, the outcome of the battle is decided based on a set of variables such as combat variables and elemental matching. The combat variables are based on the following factors:
- Unaligned Character Power is calculated using the character’s current level, and the selected weapon without considering any elemental matching.
- Aligned Character Power calculated the same as above, except that it takes into account if any attributes match the character’s element, or if the attribute is PWR.
- Trait Bonus is calculated by checking the element of the character and evaluating if it is strong, neutral, or weak against the chosen enemy’s element.
- Enemy Power is the listed power value of the chosen enemy and is used in determining the enemy’s combat roll and the rewards payout.
When determining the elemental matching it is good to note that matching elements is important for win rate and experience gain, though plays no factor in calculating enemy power range, or SKILL payout.
The outcome of the fight itself takes all the above into consideration and calculates the likelihood of success in battle. You can see your chances of success noted under the enemy on the enemy selection screen. Once the “fight” button is hit, a small fee is paid on the BSC network. If you win, you will gain experience and receive a SKILL token reward proportionate to your power level. The rewards are based on your characters level, the weapon used, and the strength of the opponent.
If you lose the battle, your character does not simply perish, luckily, you can continue to fight until your character’s “energy” runs out. Each character starts with 200 energy, with 40 energy needed for each fight. Energy recovers in real-time and takes 16 hours to fully recharge.
In the event that you go full Rambo and win all of your battles, each won battle will generate XP and SKILL, but this does not need to be claimed after each battle. As it will take a small amount of BNB to claim your XP and SKILL tokens, it is best to let them accumulate for a while.
One of the biggest criticisms against this game is that the fantasy art leads players to believe that this game is a lot more enticing than the gameplay actually is. While the artwork and characters have a very Skyrim type feel to it, some players were disappointed by the fact that combat is done by hitting a button with a randomized outcome. It is exciting to know that this game is still actively under development, with a lot of improvements on the horizon and has been listed as one of the top 10 finalists for Binance’s acceleration program.
Projects that are part of the accelerator program receive funding from Binance to further develop the project and helps to ensure the project’s future success. The roadmap for CryptoBlades mentions the introduction of CryptoBlade Kingdoms where players will be able to own land and reap profits by completing activities on that land. Developers have also recently made mention of introducing a raiding aspect to the game, though not much is known about that yet.
There are a lot of fantasy-loving RPG enthusiasts keeping a close eye on this project, that is for sure.
Splinterlands is a digital collectable card game that has attracted players who are fans of duelling card games such as Magic the Gathering or Hearthstone. This game allows players to collect and build up cards with varying statistics and functions and use those to battle against other players.
What really sets Splinterlands apart from other card games is that because it uses blockchain technology and each card is its own NFT, players are able to see exactly how many of each card are in existence, and even see the historical records for each card, giving the player truly unique insight to build strategies around.
To get started with Splinterlands, each player has to create an account on the Splinterlands platform. Once you have an account, the first step is purchasing the summoners spellbook
Which will set you back $10 dollars. This purchase can be made with crypto or PayPal and once you have made this purchase, all of the features of the game such as purchasing cards and using some in-game features will be made available.
The next purchases you can make fall under the categories of card packs, land, raffles, potions, dice and skins. Players will probably want to start off with a pack of cards here to get started with the card battles. There are a limited number of card packs available for each release, so some players buy packs to simply hold them until they aren’t available anymore, then sell them to newcomers to the game who have missed out on previous card releases. Players don’t need to purchase cards from previous releases, but it is really cool to see the marketplace here where players are buying, selling, and collecting cards all peer to peer in the Splinterlands ecosystem. Much like collectable cards in the real world selling for insane amounts of money, many of these cards are being sold for thousands of dollars depending on their strength and rarity as well, so there is definitely some potential for money to be made here.
Once you have chosen your cards, as with each game mentioned here, we are ready to get into the most exciting part of the game which is, of course, battling. Players can choose to practice, or play ranked or unranked matches against other players. Ranked matches give the player the ability to win Dark Energy crystals which is a cryptocurrency on the Hive engine which can be traded for other crypto-assets and sold for fiat. Imagine all those hours people have clocked playing card games such as Pokemon or Yugioh, translate those hours into playing Splinterlands, and now you are actually getting paid to play card games. On the battle screen, there are also daily tasks that users can complete to earn extra rewards such as cards or Dark Energy crystals to add another degree of excitement to the game.
As players progress and continue to win more battles, they will also start increasing their league levels. The higher the league reached, the more difficult your opponents will be and the higher the rewards. Once the “Battle” button is pressed, you will be matched with an opponent based on your skill level and that is where the game gets fun. Each player will be met with a countdown screen where you will be able to see the recent decks your opponent has used as well as see their power level, so you can build your deck and adjust your strategy accordingly.
Once you have chosen your cards and the countdown has reached zero, the battle now begins where each player is taken to a screen to watch how the battle will play out. It is good to mention here that the players do not actually participate in the literal battle, once the cards are chosen and the strategy has been put into place by each opponent, the duel itself is played out in auto-play format where each player watches the duel play out.
That is basically the nuts and bolts behind Splinterlands. This is a really addictive game for anyone who likes strategy-based card games, especially one where your rewards and payouts increase as you increase in rank and the game gets more competitive. The future of this game looks promising as user adoption continues to grow, bringing more people into the game, with each new season bringing in new cards and rewards to be won. There is plenty to look forward to with this one.
Step Hero is an NFT fantasy-themed RPG that is built on the BSC and Polygon network that combines NFT gaming with the DeFi ecosystem. The plot here is that there is a post-apocalyptic war between the Army of Shadows which is led by Lucifer himself, and an army of heaven lead by the archangel Gabriel, which sounds about as epic a battle as you can get. The players take on the role of the heroes, with their mission being to defeat the Shadow Army in battle. As with other games on the list, rewards are paid by winning battles and staking the in-game token called Hero. Rewards are paid out in the form of the Hero tokens and in-game points which can be used to upgrade and buy characters, or of course, exchange for other crypto assets. One of the unique features of this game is that characters can be purchased purely by points which can be generated by staking Hero tokens. Those Hero tokens can be unstaked and sold at any point, giving the player their initial investment back, so basically by staking Hero tokens, you can unlock these character NFT’s for free once enough points are generated.
Holders of Hero tokens can stake their balance to earn in-game points, or stake Hero-BNB LP to earn FLIP tokens on PancakeSwap, meaning that there is more than one utility for holders of Hero tokens providing players with a choice of how they want to use their tokens. Players can use BNB or redeem points and FLIP for NFT’s which can be traded on the in-game marketplace. The marketplace is a cross-chain NFT platform where users can create, sell, and buy NFT’s, and even includes features such as auctions and affiliate programs.
As Step Heroes is still in its early stages, not much is known for sure yet about how the mechanics of how the battles will work. Currently, the NFT marketplace is fully functional, and players can start staking their Hero tokens and earning the points needed to purchase their Heroes. The Step Hero team has recently released a demo video, showcasing how the battles will look within the game. Plans to fully roll out the battle function will take place in the near future with an anticipated release date in Q4 of 2021. Here is a look at how the battle sequence will look:
This game has already gathered a tremendous about of excitement for a project that isn’t even fully launched yet, already reaching 143k followers on Twitter and the trading volume for the Hero token hitting 3.5 million dollars in the past 24 hours, showing that there is already a lot of interest in this project and its native Hero token. Part of this excitement comes from the team and the roadmap behind the project. The team carries a number of high-calibre, talented individuals with many years of combined experience, ranging from the crypto industry to marketing to game design, with the CEO Gabriel Vu even having experience as a partner with tech giant platforms such as Amazon, eBay and Facebook, so there is a lot of confidence in the team behind this project and their sustainable, long term vision for Step Heroes.
So far, the team has hit their roadmap milestones with the full release of the game expected to launch in Q4 of 2021. Players can expect demo and beta versions to be released and tested before a full game launch. With all the anticipation and excitement building behind this game, we expect the official launch to be huge, following the trend we have seen after the release of other NFT play to earn games.
Those are a few of the exciting projects that are out now or will be released in the near future, but what is this potentially “society changing” project that I mentioned, and where do I think the future of play to earn games might really go?
The Future of Play to Earn
Of course, I don’t have a crystal ball, and this is pure speculation, but many lovers of the crypto and gaming industries have recently been made aware of the absolute bombshell of an announcement for a project called Star Atlas, which has the potential to forever change the reality in which we choose to live in.
The full release of Star Atlas isn’t even projected to be finished for the next 8-10 years, so gaming and crypto enthusiasts alike will have a long time to wait, though there are already ways that players and investors are getting involved, skyrocketing even the earliest stages of this game into mass adoption. For any lovers of Sci-Fi films such as Gamer or Ready Player One, where it becomes common for people to spend more time in virtual worlds than the real world, Star Atlas is basically the first project of its kind where this may become a reality, where players may choose to spend more time in the Star Atlas universe, going on deep space adventures, working jobs and earning money, than the time they spend in the real world.
I won’t go into a full review about the intricacies of what Star Atlas is, but here is a link to a Youtube video from FX Axe, that goes into a deep dive telling viewers everything they need to know about the game and show some beautiful artist renditions of what the gameplay will look like and how players and early investors can already get involved. If you want to really nerd out, here is the link for the 42 page Star Atlas Whitepaper that goes really into detail about everything inside the game from tokenomics to how the in-game economy will work, it’s really groundbreaking stuff.
What really got me thinking about this project and considering the possibilities is the fact that you can essentially perform a countless number of tasks and jobs within the game that can be paid for peer to peer, which is similar to you know… how life works. Whether you want to be a pilot, a soldier, a pirate, work in mines, or even be a janitor, it sounds like there will be a role for just about anybody in this game with each of these jobs and tasks paying out in the in-game currency, “ATLAS,” which of course, will have real-world, monetary value.
We have already seen thousands of people in developing countries quit their jobs, or who simply haven’t had jobs, and turn full time to games like Axie Infinity as their main source of income, so it isn’t much of a stretch to see this happening on a more global scale. With many proficient economists predicting that the majority of people may be losing their jobs due to automation in the next decade, I wouldn’t be surprised to see many of us turning to an entirely new way of earning an income online with play to earn games such as Star Atlas. This opportunity also had me thinking about the many people who may not have been fortunate enough, nor the opportunities to chase their dreams, it isn’t hard to imagine a world where people would rather get paid to be a fighter pilot in outer space in a virtual world as opposed to washing dishes or flipping burgers for money in the real world.
All I know is that if somebody would have told 10- year old me that I would be living in a future where earning a living salary from playing video games was possible and even achievable for the average person, I would have either thought that person was crazy, or describing a fantasy world where childhood dreams really do come true, and I for one, am really excited to see where the future of play to earn gaming goes.
Disclaimer: These are the writer’s opinions and should not be considered investment advice. Readers should do their own research.