Play to earn: This will be HUGE!

Play to earn: This will be HUGE!

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An editor at Coincrop

26 Dec 2021 | 12 min read


he world of crypto currencies and decentralised finance is rapidly embracing the gaming industry.  Play to earn brings these two industries together with incentives to earn financial rewards for participating in games.

In this guide:

Disclaimer: All of the information written on Coin Crop is without influence and based on our analysis. No guarantee is offered concerning the accuracy of this information and therefore, any individual following up on it does as such completely at their own risk. Rates are correct at time of publication.

What is play to earn?

Play to earn is a blend of gaming and decentralised finance (DeFi) – it is also known as GameFi ( the expression combines the two words “game” and “finance”).  The monetisation of gaming is nothing new – we only have to look at the mobile world and applications to see that vast sums of money involved in the playing of games and associated in-game purchases.

Whilst traditional gaming functions on a “play-to-win” basis (often with the possibility of purchasing ‘upgrades’ to attain advantage over other players), play to earn creates the earning concept.  This model gives incentive to progress with financial incentives whilst also offering the possibility of earning.

Plkay to earn should not be confused with gambling.  The games that form part of this newly emerging industry require gamers to utilise strategy and skill in order to generate income.  That isn’t to say that luck is not a part of the games but it is not the primary driver for achieving financial rewards.

It was Andrew Cronje, the founder of the Yearn protocol, that was believed to be the first individual to use the phrase GameFi in a September 2020 tweet.

Early examples of blockchain technology being matched with entertainment and asset ownership date back to 2017 with the launch of CryptoKitties on the Ethereum blockchain.  These early non fungible tokens (NFTs) have spawned an entire industry.

All the actions, assets and transaction data that form part of a decentralised game are stored on a publicly visible blockchain with the following benefits:

    • Assets acquired during gameplay cannot be destroyed, counterfeited or removed.

    • Decentralisation has the advantage of no single point of failure. The risk of players losing progress as a result of technical problems is reduced.

    • Players can demonstrate that they are the owners of particular digital assets.

    • Cryptocurrencies native to games can be sent and received without intermediary payment providers.

What are play to earn games?

In play to earn games, the financial model is one of a reward for participating in the game and achieving the defined objectives.  The rewards given to players typically come from a native token that resides within a smart contract associated with the game.

The DeFi Kingdom game rewards players for participating in quests (missions).  Every 8 hours a “hero” (character in the game) can undertake 5 quests. Completed quests reward players with experience and earning DFKTEARS, a currency on the platform.  These DFKTEARS can be received directly into your wallet or they can be sold for JEWEL or another currency.

Earning from asset ownership

Many decentralised games operate an economy around scarce digital assets which are secured on blockchains.  These NFTs can represent both physical and digital items.  Assets can purchased, sold or leased to other players.  These assets could be avatars, plots of lands, weapons, clothing, gold coins etc.

Increasingly, play to earn games have DeFi synergies with features such as staking in which tokens related to the game can be locked away in order to earn rewards and other interest.  Some games also operate an asset exchange in which cryptocurrencies can be exchanged – users can provide liquidity in order to facilitate these swaps and consequently earn a part of the transaction.

In the game of DeFi Kingdoms you can earn JEWEL tokens by renting out your “hero”.  The hero is your character in the game with a number of attributes.  A hero is essentially a NFT.

Popular play to earn protocols

Whilst initial blockchain games were founded on Ethereum, the growth of the network and consequential slowdown in processing and impractical transaction fees has led to developers turning to alternate networks.  These include:

    • Wax

    • Polkadot

    • BSC

    • OEC

    • Polygon Network

    • Solana

    • Avalanche

Getting started

Unfortunately getting started in play to earn is more challenging than downloading a game from an app store.  There are several steps:

    • Setup a cryptocurrency wallet – In order to store NFTs and in-game virtual currency, a wallet is required.  MetaMask is one of the most popular wallets for this purpose.

    • Fund crypto wallet – To participate in a game, you will likely require a cryptocurrency that can then be converted into the in-game currency.

    • Acquire initial items – Once you have a wallet funded with currency you can then begin purchasing characters, weapons and other assets to participate in the game.

Axie Infinity

At the time of writing, Axie Infinity is the most popular play to earn game.  The game takes its inspiration from Tamagotchi and Pokémon.  This trading and battling game encourages players to battle, raise, breed, collect and trade creatures referred to as “axies”.  

There are several ways to earn:

    • Selling pets to other players

    • Breeding combat and magic creatures for use in battles

Each Axie character is a NFT – a minimum of three pets or eggs is required to start playing.

Players require two wallets to access the game – Ronin and MetaMask.  An existing Ethereum balance in MetaMask is transferred to Ronin for conversion into WETH.  Each player receives one SLP (the Axie Infinity internal cryptocurrency) for winning battles against the computer.  Up to one hundred SLP a day can be won.  An additional in-game currency reffered to as AXS tokens can be used for in-game purchases.

In addition to purchasing virtual characters, virtual land can also be purchased in the game.


This game is a virtual collectible card game in which players acquire a collection of cards, each with differing stats and abilities – these are then used to battle other players.  Each of the cards are NFTs that can be exchanged or traded in a marketplace.  The native token is “dark energy crystals” (DEC) – the governance token is Splitershards (SPS).  The game operates on the Hive blockchain.


Upland can be thought of as a virtual form of the traditional board game Monopoly.  Players must buy, sell and develop property that are NFT objects.  The virtual currency used in the game is known as UPX coins.

The game overlays virtual asset ownership on the real world – i.e. you could own your house in both the virtual and physical worlds.

In November 2021 Upload raised $18 million at a $300 million valuation.  The game is only available in 13 cities in the U.S.  It has 60,000 daily active users.



An editor at Coincrop
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