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What is a play-to-earn and how does it work ?

January 6, 2023
minute read
What is a play-to-earn and how does it work ?

Are play-to-earn (P2E) games the latest revolution in the world of video games? To find out if they are going to be the future of gaming, we need to understand what play-to-earn is. We'll look at how play-to-earn works, the different types of play-to-earn games, and the difference between classic, traditional and play-to-earn games.

What are the best play-to-earn games? What do they offer that classic video games don’t? In this article you will find all of the answers you need to understand play-to-earn.  

In a classic video game, the player spends money and earns points or resources that are of no use to him/her outside of the video game.

In a play-to-earn game, when a player wins a match, a fight or completes a quest; he/she earns money. Actual, real money. That's what we call GameFi: Gaming + Finance.

How is this possible? That's the magic of blockchain games. A player can earn NFTs which have a value and can be resold. Alternatively, the player can earn money directly, in the form of cryptocurrency.

Are you ready to dive into the play-to-earn revolution? Let's get started! 

Let’s start with the basics. First, you have to understand there exists many different types of play-to-earn games. 

It's just like classic video games! They can be sports games or war games and they can be mobile games on Android or iOS. Furthermore, there are free games and paid games. 

Play-to-earn games are the same, although there is a key difference with classic games.With a play-to-earn game, instead of losing money, you make money. Well, not always, you still have to win the game!

Understanding Play-to-Earn (P2E) Games

In this section, we will take a closer look at different types of play-to-earn games. That is to say: the different blockchain applications that reward users with NFTs or crypto currencies. 

First, you need to understand what a reward is in a video game. 

Here's a definition: 

In all games, when you play, you win something. Whether it's gold coins, points, leader boards, equipment, etc. These are rewards

These rewards have utility in your game. But in play-to-earn, these rewards have another purpose next to their in-game utility: you can also sell them in real life. 

With these rewards, users can earn money and spend it wherever they want. This is GameFi (as previously mentioned). 

So, the key difference is that thanks to the blockchain, rewards can be traded outside of the video game, in real life. It's like being able to spend your GTA bank account on real life shopping!‍

Play-to-earn video games

Each play-to-earn video game will have a different type of GameFi attached to it, meaning that each game has a different way of earning money. This will be related to the gameplay. Some games will be more lucrative than others. It also depends on your gamer profile, just like classic games.

Imagine this: you earn real money when playing Fifa, every time you win or even every time you score a goal! 

Now imagine on Fortnite, you earn money for every Top1 or for every kill. 

Sounds good, right? That’s a play-to-earn game!

The different types of play-to-earn games

There is a wide spectrum that encompasses play-to-earn games. You could sort them by theme: 

  • Sport
  • Fighting or war games
  • Adventure
  • FPS
  • Etc.

1. Pooky: Predict the results of matches in all sports categories and earn points!

Pooky is the sport prediction game platform that will revolutionise the sports industry in 2023 

2. Sorare: Create football teams and play against other players

Sorare is the Fantasy Football game that everyone is talking about this year.

3. Axie Infinity: Collect animals, train them and make them fight

Axie Infinity is the most famous play-to-earn game in the world.

4. Gods Unchain: Collect cards and fight against other players

Gods Unchained is a cards-based fight play-to-earn game.

5. Alien Worlds: Explore worlds and extract resources

Alien Worlds is an adventure and exploration kind of play-to-earn game.

6. The Sandbox: Create and customise virtual worlds

The Sandbox is a famous virtual world Play-to-Earn game.

In each of these play-to-earn games, if the player wins, he/she will win items that have real life value. 

Finally, a third division (and probably the most important) of play-to-earn games comes into light:

  • Some games will offer NFTs to the winner : they're called NFT Games
  • Others will win crypto
  • Some games are true metaverses
  • Some others use Web3 features
  • Finally, some play-to-earn games are connected to the real world and you can earn money in exchange for physical activity, like move-to-earn

Understanding play-to-earn with definitions

To understand play-to-earn, we need to look at the technology a little. Play-to-earn has a very technical dimension. They are blockchain-based video games. 

What does that mean exactly?

Blockchain is a revolutionary way of storing information. Information can be anything from your game items, skins, weapons, to your money earned during a match. This data is stored on the blockchain and not on the video game servers, you can physically own these items. You can trade them, and you can resell them.

What does it change? Well, in a classic game, like World of Warcraft, you don't own your items. For example, if you have invested time and money to win items, but your account becomes suddenly suspended or if the video game disappears overnight: you lose everything.

The blockchain empowers you to own the items on the internet. That's why it's considered revolutionary. In play-to-earn games, you own your game winnings. On for example, you can own the Pookyballs. They exist in the form of NFTs and you can even resell them. You truly own them.

What is a blockchain? 

A definition of blockchain that will help in understanding blockchain games, aka play-to-earn

A blockchain is a decentralised network. What is that? It's like a cloud, which hosts data hosted in many different places. 

Do you remember Limewire or Emule? You know, those sites where you could download music in the early 2000s? Well, blockchain is based on the same principle. It's P2P, or peer-to-peer. Information is stored in several places at the same time. It can bring numerous advantages, like acting as a tool against censorship, raising levels of data security, or removing the need for intermediaries. 

How do blockchain play-to-earn games work?

How is this possible? Well, it's quite simple. In a normal game, you have to pay by purchasing the game, such as for console games like Call of Duty or Fifa. In this case, you pay once when you buy the game and then you pay to unlock game modes, to have access to better equipment, etc.

All this money goes to the studio that makes the video game. They get the whole cake,, but you get nothing. If your account gets frozen, again, you lose everything. Your items, your skins, your weapons, your upgrades, etc. you're left with nothing but tears. 

That's a bit much, isn't it? While gamers are the turning cogs for the studios, they are the ones that lose the most in the video game world. 

In play-to-earn, part of the money generated is redistributed to the players. This is the great blockchain revolution. It is the video game of Web3. Through play-to-earn gaming, you have the opportunity to earn NFTs that can both enhance your game experience and be resold on a secondary market.

You can also earn cryptocurrencies directly. Sometimes it’s a cryptocurrency developed by the play-to-earn studio, sometimes widely used cryptocurrencies, such as Ethereum (ETH), Bitcoin (BTC) or stable coins (USDT, USDC).


Play-to-earn is the future of video games. They use the blockchain to enable things never seen before. For example, truly owning items in a game, or earning money while playing. This movement is still young, and there are still scams, for example in the move-to-earn category and more specifically the sleep-to-earn category.

But even these projects can become real Lifestyle Apps with the help of NFTs, crypto and blockchain.

If you are interested in future technologies, if you are a gamer, if you use apps or if you are into Web3, you don't want to miss out on play-to-earn!

Frequently Asked Questions 

Can you make money with play-to-earn?

Yes, you can actually make real money with play-to-earn. You can either earn NFTs that are valuable or directly earn cryptocurrencies. It depends on the game you're playing.

What's the best free play-to-earn?

There are plenty of free-to-play P2E. They all allow you to make money and to have fun. The best one is the one you'll enjoy the most, based on your gamer profile.

Which play-to-earn should I buy now?

You should buy the play-to-earn that looks like the best fit for you. They all have different stories and designs. You should choose a play-to-earn like you would choose a classic game. Are you more into sports or FPS? That's the question you want to ask yourself.

How can you earn money with play-to-earn?

To earn money with play to earn, you can: play the game, buy NFTs and rent them or invest in the cryptocurrency. You'll earn cryptocurrency or NFTs that both hold value. You can then resell them on platforms and crypto exchanges like Binance to get more conventional money like cl Euro or Dollar.

Can I play for free?

Yes, you can. Just go for a free-to-play play to earn, such as Pooky.

Are there any legit play-to-earn games?

Of course, there are plenty of legitimate play-to-earn games. Just read this article and take a look at the different games presented here.

What is the most profitable play-to-earn game?

The most profitable play-to-earn games are the ones you can play the most without getting bored. This is based on your gaming profile. That being said, play-to-earn games tends to be more profitable than free-to-play, at least in the beginning.

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