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Play and Earn vs. Play to Earn gaming: A shift in Web3 gaming

As web3 continues to develop, the blockchain gaming industry has been experiencing a dramatic shift. While Play to Earn (P2E) is the model most are familiar with, new models have started to emerge. 

Truth be told, the words “play-to-earn” have begun to turn gamers away. The reason for this has a lot to do with the flaws in the current architecture that have caused blockchain games to emerge players.

A new model has since entered the spotlight and progressively gained traction. It’s known as “Play and Earn,” and while it sounds similar, there are notable differences in it that are designed to change crypto games for the better. 

A maturing industry

Like any other industry will experience at some point, the crypto gaming industry is going through a transition period. Popular P2E games like Axie Infinity were once the talk of the internet, but things change, especially in a rapidly evolving space like web3 where new trends and ideas pop up all the time. 

Source- Axie Infinity

Not long ago, these popular P2E games allowed players to earn cryptocurrencies and even NFTs by playing. These digital items could be sold off for profits; however, gamers became too obsessed with profits, resulting in no reinvestments into these games.

Instead of reinvesting the earned cryptocurrency or NFTs, many players were quick to cash out and take the profit before the hype was over – frankly, that might have been a wise choice. 

This has caused a chain reaction, resulting in many titles, including Axie Infinity, suffering a massive blow in player retention. Many players are finding these games less fun while becoming too focused on making money, which really wasn’t the only key point, to begin with.

While it’s sad to see some of the biggest first-movers in P2E gaming suffer, it’s a natural reaction to a maturing industry. Web3 gaming is still in its infant stages, so a shift in the industry was expected to happen in one way or another.

Gaming should never be a job

A major reason why this shift occurred was that these games ended up feeling like a “job” to many gamers, constantly chasing profits while playing and not enjoying their time. 

It boils down to the fact that games should be fun and not feel like a job or a chore. After all, don’t we play games to escape the daily grind? 

People want to play video games for fun and use them as a break in their day-to-day lives. For many, it was probably a lot of fun to earn while playing initially, but is that motivation sustainable in the long run? Not really.

Another thing that has turned out as an apparent problem in the P2E gaming model is how monetary barriers have risen, such as super expensive NFTs blocking new players from entering. 

Source: LeewayHertz

This is one of the problems that guilds have attempted to resolve, but even that hasn’t been enough. In fact, it has mostly led to gamers competing with each other for guild scholarships.

These barriers in P2E gaming have caused much frustration and deterred gamers from continuing to invest time and money into these games.

Play and Earn allows gamers to game

So if the P2E gaming model is faltering, what is the next big thing? The answer might be Play and Earn. 

This modified version of P2E emerged during a natural evolution of the crypto gaming industry. Unlike P2E, this model emphasises making games fun and prioritises the gamers’ interests.

Play and Earn looks to remove the pain points found in P2E, meaning game developers can now finally do their job and focus solely on creating games that are enjoyable for players. 

The whole earning concept is a side factor in Play and Earn games, where players still receive NFTs or other rewards for putting the time in. Luckily, these rewards are not the game’s main draw and won’t require new players to purchase expensive assets to get started.

With Play and Earn, players are no longer required to choose between a game where they can earn and a game they can enjoy. 

Sustainability will be found through the enjoyment

This all comes down to the fact that sustainability in web3 gaming will likely be found through enjoyment in the end – at least, it looks that way in the industry’s current state. 

Source: Naavik

P2E games will likely continue to have difficulty being sustainable long-term, mainly because players are encouraged to cash out earnings with little to no asset lock-ups involved and fun being a secondary priority.

On the other hand, the Play and Earn gaming model focuses on developing games that players enjoy regardless of whether there is a strong earning aspect to it or not. 

Earning will come in the form of rewards they receive for accomplishing tasks and improving in the game, such as NFT items for completing a difficult quest. This model returns to the OG roots of game development to strictly be “players first.”

Sustainability for crypto and blockchain games will be found in how fun a game is. The more fun players have with a game, the more likely the player base sticks around, and the community will grow as a whole.


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