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The following guide will highlight the best blockchain-based play-to-earn (P2E) crypto games. Specifically, it delves into their definition, why they are growing in popularity, and which among the several in the marketplace are worth exploring if you wish to play.
What are Play-to-Earn Crypto Games?
Video games have proven popular over the last several years, but the prospect of earning by engaging in such an entertaining venture for some is the alluring experience that has driven the P2E games’ popularity. Anyone can play from anywhere in the world against anyone for virtual assets.
Additionally, the non-players who wish to be a part of the phenomenon also get to participate in other ways, such as trading the assets, buying and holding (HODL), or even creating them for the players. It forms a highly elaborate ecosystem that most games have harnessed to thrive and outpace their competitors.
Types of Play-to-Earn Crypto Games
Play-to-earn crypto games are available in several different flavors. As a nascent marketplace, most of the games are still under active development. There is also overlap among the various types of games.
Despite the fact that there are several types of games for players to choose from, only a selection of these represents the leading blockchain games. Some of these include:
- Virtual worlds – this is the most common type of crypto game whereby game developers create an immersive digital environment with various incentives to keep the players engaged;
- Card games – with these games, players can participate in various activities that revolve around rare or unique virtual cards existing as NFTs, which can also be traded for speculative reasons;
- Adventure games – as the name suggests, these kinds of games enable players to undertake activities such as hunting for treasures and performing missions;
- Strategy games – these are more sophisticated blockchain games that possibly overlap with the adventure category. In this type, players are required to achieve various targets either individually or as a group, and to do so requires astute planning and execution;
- Multiplayer games – popular within the conventional gaming industry, these games enable players to interact with one another by competing either physically in battles or intellectually by solving puzzles. Winners get rewarded with in-game items such as cryptocurrencies or NFTs.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but the five categories highlighted here represent a majority of the P2E games new users can start playing easily. Plus, our picks of the best play-to-earn crypto games fall into either one of several of these types. Below is a list of five of the best P2E crypto games as of the date of publication.
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5 Best Play to Earn Crypto Games
1. Axie Infinity (AXS | SLP)
Axie Infinity is among the most popular NFT metaverse games attracting more than 1 million active players at its peak in 2021. It is a player vs. player (PvP) game created by the Vietnamese technology-focused game studio Sky Mavis in 2018.
The game involves players breeding, raising, building, and battling miniature virtual creators called Axies on the Axie metaverse. Winners of various battles get a reward in the form of Ethereum-based Smooth Love Portion (SLP) tokens.
The Axies also get a chance to level up with multiple battles, thereby gaining experience points to use in upgrading six different parts that make up these pets. They are the back, ears, eyes, horns, mouth, and tail. The Axies themselves have been categorized into nine classes, six of which are normal and three secrets.
Normal classes include Aquatic, Beast, Bird, Bug, Plant, or Reptile, while the secret classes are comprised of Dawn, Dusk, or Mech. These classes help define the difference in characteristics among the various Axies and, by extension, their strengths and weaknesses.
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Players can cross-breed their Axies to form better versions to increase their chances of winning battles, gaining experience points, and thus increasing their earning potential.
The game also has another token dubbed Axie Infinity Shards (AXS), mainly used for governance and staking. AXS holders can buy, sell and trade the asset or stake it for weekly rewards, thereby adding to their overall earnings.
Other methods by which players can earn resources include
- Cross-breeding Axies to obtain ones with particular body part combinations;
- Speculating on the rare Axies, also called Mystics and Origins;
- Introducing new players to the game;
- Creating original art and content to be used within the game and traded in the Axie Infinity Marketplace.
Watch the intro video:
2. The Sandbox (SAND)
The Sandbox (SAND) blockchain game is another metaverse-type play-to-earn experience that launched its Alpha version in November 2021. The ‘Sandbox’ brand name is not a new creation but rather a relaunch of a popular iOS and Android mobile game series that previously launched in 2011.
As a metaverse, it is based on the Ethereum blockchain, the leading smart contract platform. Players are able to own virtual property on which they can build, own or monetize gaming experiences. Essentially, Sandbox enables players to create games, allow players to interact with fellow users’ games, and earn prizes in the form of tokens.
Additionally, Sandbox maintains a thriving NFT marketplace where players can buy tools, NFTs, or even LAND to build their games. According to the project’s whitepaper, there are only 166,464 pieces of LAND existing as NFTs.
Anyone can buy or rent out LAND, then lease it out or design a gaming experience on their property. Players are able to monetize their time on the metaverse by
- Selling assets – you can design an asset or art using the VoxEdit Art maker to sell in the marketplace;
- Own LAND – LAND owners are able to rent it out for a fee or sell it after value appreciation;
- Create a gaming experience – players can create games and charge fellow players to participate in tournaments.
So far, the Sandbox P2E crypto game has the following three products:
VoxEdit– this is a free 3D voxel modeling and NFT creation package provided by Sandbox with which artists can create and animate 3D objects that can be used as avatars, tools, and weapons within the metaverse;
NFT Marketplace – here you can find LAND for sell or rent, NFTs to buy, sell, or trade, and any other creation from the VoxEdit package;
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Game Maker – a free program availed to game designers and developers to create games and gaming experiences for Sandbox users.
Watch the intro video:
3. Alien Worlds (TLM)
Alien Worlds (TLM) is an NFT DeFi metaverse game that falls into three of the categories previously highlighted. It is a virtual world, an adventure, and a strategy game with future plans to integrate multiplayer functionalities.
The game was released in December 2020 by Dacoco GmbH, growing exponentially to become one of the most actively played games, according to the DappRadar analytics website. Additionally, DappRadar shows that the game has at least 200,000 unique active wallets (UAW) that have conducted over 14 million transactions since its launch.
The idea behind Alien Worlds is to offer a metaverse where players can collaborate and compete for the scarce resource Trillium (TLM). Players can mine it using specialized tools existing as NFTs. Once a player has earned the TLM tokens, they can thus stake them and participate in the governance of the game by electing the Councillors of six Planet DAOs.
A DAO (decentralized autonomous organization) is a governance structure with no central authority, and Alien Worlds has six of these. The Councillors determine the overall direction of the game, and the TLM token holders participate by electing their Councillors.
Features within Alien Worlds
Players in the Alien Worlds metaverse can participate in the following activities:
- Mining – players can use specialized NFT tools to mine and collect TLM tokens from the various planets with the metaverse;
- Staking – TLM token holders can stake their tokens and participate in the governance of the metaverse and influence the future direction of the game;
- Trading – Alien Worlds maintains an active marketplace hosted on the BNB Chain and WAX blockchains. Players can trade their NFTs to achieve various missions or goals, including mining TLM;
- Cross-chain bridge – Alien Worlds exists on BNB Chain, WAX, and Ethereum blockchains which necessitate having a token bridge for the transfer of TLM tokens and other NFTs amongst the three networks.
Watch the intro video:
4. Splinterlands (SPS | DEC)
The team behind Splinterlands markets the project as the “next generation of collectible card games.” It is a digital blockchain-based P2E game that was launched in March 2018 by Jesse Reich and Matthew Rosen.
The game involves players battling one another for either rank or for practice. The former leads to a change in rating whereby the winners get higher ratings while losers drop. Additionally, the ranked battles also see winners get a reward in the form of Dark Energy Crystal (DEC) tokens which can be converted and traded for cash or other tokens.
Splinterlands is based on the public Hive blockchain, thereby ensuring that gaming events are easy to verify and NFT assets such as collectible cards are also verifiable. It is also easier to track points across all players.
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For governance, Splinterlands launched a new token dubbed Splintershards (SPS) based on the BNB Chain by the Binance cryptocurrency exchange. SPS serves two main uses, which are:
- Governance – SPS holders are able to participate in the direction of the Splinterlands game, including voting on new changes to the ecosystem. They can also use the token to request local changes to events, such as battle schedules;
- Payments – SPS tokens can be used for value transfer as payment when trading cards and other NFT assets.
As a play-to-earn crypto game, Splinterlands offers players the chance to earn money through the DEC token by winning battles or tournaments and also, trading their cards in the marketplace. Players also have the option to rent out their cards to other players. Currently, Splinterlands cards are tradable on most of the popular NFT marketplaces, including OpenSea, PeakMonsters, and Monster Market.
5. Gods Unchained (GODS)
Last, but certainly not the least among the best play-to-earn crypto games, is Gods Unchained (GODS), a creation of Magic the Gathering’s former gaming director Chris Clay. It is based on the Ethereum scalability layer-2 solution Immutable X.
Gods Unchained is a free-to-start NFT card game that enables players to interact in a tactical manner in order to win battles and tournaments. This is, therefore, a strategy game.
To start, you do not have to buy any tokens or assets. Once you sign up, the game will credit your account with a deck of cards. Players can then use the free cards to familiarize themselves with the game and ecosystem, even playing in friendly battles.
It is, however, possible to enroll and participate in real-stakes events where you have a chance of winning or losing the cards you already have. Rewards can be in the form of NFT cards or the game’s native token, GODS.
GODS is an ERC-20-compliant token created to serve the following purposes:
- Forging – this is the act of combining two or more similar cards to come up with a more valuable card, and this process requires some GODS tokens to complete;
- Staking – GODS tokens can be staked for passive rewards for their holders;
- Payments – players can buy and sell in-game NFT pieces and pay or receive GODS as payment;
- Trading – players and other game investors can speculate on the value of GODS on cryptocurrency exchanges that support the token.
Watch the intro video:
Pros and Cons of Play-to-Earn Blockchain Games
For a long time, video games have been looked at from one perspective: as a source of entertainment. The blockchain phenomenon is slowly proving that games can be more than just ways to unwind after a long day or week at work. Games can also be a source of income.
The five games we have highlighted in this guide are not just the best play-to-earn crypto games, they are also great examples of how games can be used to earn money. Not only do they enable players to supplement their income, and extract some entertainment while they do so, but also they portray another important use case for the nascent blockchain technology.
Disclaimer: The content on this site should not be considered investment advice. Investing is speculative. When investing, your capital is at risk.