In this guide, you will learn how to get started with play-to-earn and NFT games. If you ever wondered how to choose a good game to start with, or how to set up a wallet, you came to the right place.
The tips in this guide are more suitable for a beginner. If you’re already experienced in the play-to-earn ecosystem, we suggest you take a look at our in-depth game guides.
How to Identify a Game?
First, it’s important to identify which kind of games you like. Remember that play to earn is simply an evolution of gaming, and the basic assumption should be that you enjoy what you’re doing.
To put it simply, if you get bored or feel like you’re working, then it’s probably not the game for you.
Although simplistic and scarce right now, the market for play to earn titles is growing by the day, and several golden nuggets are popping up monthly.
You can consult our list of playable games here, together with their price to begin playing and an overall rating based on mechanics and profitability.
For your first game, it’s suggested you start with a free-to-play one. You would most likely need to purchase an NFT to profit from it but, in the meantime, you can test all the main mechanics entirely for free and see if it’s fun for you.
If you do decide to invest in a game, you’d need a wallet, cryptocurrency, and a solid understanding of how the developers make money and how to understand if the tokenomics are valid.
How to Create a Crytpo Wallet?
In order to start buying NFTs, or even just to connect to the game in a web3 environment, you will need a wallet. The most popular, free, online wallet is “Metamask”.
Metamask comes as a browser extension or mobile app and allows you to store pretty much any cryptocurrency on any chain you might need. Although popular, please note that Metamask is often a target for hackers, and that you should be careful while using it and never share your password and seed phrase with anyone. For maximal security, look into physical wallets to store your coins and NFTs.
Creating a wallet is incredibly easy, and you can see a tutorial here for Metamask.
A physical wallet secures your cryptocurrency in an offline device that can’t be hacked. While better for security, you will still need Metamask or an alternative online wallet to access most games. You can then transfer your coins to the Ledger.
All wallets serve the same purpose: they help you have your own crypto bank. In order to store BTC, ETH, or AXS, you’ll need one. The same is true for all transactions, as the wallet also serves as a validator.
In order to buy NFTs on any marketplace, you’ll need enough cryptocurrency for the transaction + gas fees + a correct connection to the blockchain. Most NFTs live on the Ethereum blockchain, hence you’d need a wallet compatible with it to finalize the purchase.
Once purchased, the NFTs are also stored in your wallet, which makes the compatibility with the chain even more important to keep in mind.
It’s crucial that you always remember the 24 words Metamask, or other wallets, give you at the beginning of your web3 journey. No one in the world can help you remember or retrieve those words, and if you lose them all your funds are gone.
Make sure you take extra steps to secure the location where you keep the words, and never share them with anyone. In no circumstance will a valid, trustworthy institution ask you to share your 24 words. If someone does, it’s 100% a scammer.
For Solana-based projects, we suggest you use the Phantom wallet. Phantom is the most popular wallet on the Solana blockchain. In this tutorial, we show you how to use it to store and trade your cryptocurrency and NFTs on the Solana network.
How to Buy Cryptocurrency?
There are several ways to buy cryptocurrency, and the best method depends on the crypto you wish to acquire.
If you own a Ledger, you can use their companion application, Ledger Live, to buy and swap almost any crypto. If you don’t, you will need a companion to your Metamask / browser wallet to buy the coins you need to play.
Cryptocurrency can usually be bought directly through a centralized exchange (or CEX). The most popular centralized exchanges are Binance and Coinbase.
Using Binance and Coinbase is similar to registering with a financial institution. Although easy, the process will be long and will require several authentication methods. You need to complete the verification process in order to purchase or transact on the platform.
Coinbase, in particular, is easy to use and allows you to buy all the major cryptocurrencies. You can buy BTC, ETH, USDT, and much more. Binance, on the other hand, hosts a bigger collection of coins, plus a private exchange where you can swap your crypto with other users privately, charging a commission fee (this is called “peer-to-peer trading”). Binance also has its own chain, Binance Smart Chain, and its coin, $BSC.
Both CEX allow paying with a debit or credit card, giving you a quick and easy avenue to transmute your fiat currency (EUR, USD, GBP) into cryptocurrency.
Remember that not all cryptocurrencies can be bought on a centralized exchange. New games, or even established titles, will sometimes use decentralized exchanges only (DEX), where the only available method of purchase is through other cryptocurrencies.
This means that you might not be able to buy a game’s governance token with your debit card. Instead, you’d probably need to buy Ethereum first, and then swap that Ethereum for the game governance or reward token.
Generally speaking, ETH and wETH are the most important coins to keep in your wallet, as they can be easily purchased with fiat and will be used for most transactions or swaps. To swap ETH with other coins, use a platform like Pancakeswap for the Binance Smart Chain or Quickswap for Polygon-based projects.
Please note a DEX is not as safe as its centralized counterparts. Liquidity is mostly provided by users through the use of “Liquidity Pools”, where other cryptocurrency owners stake their coins. Only operate on decentralized exchanges you trust and that have a large user base.
How to Buy and Sell NFTs?
NFTs are the second biggest component of play-to-earn games. While crypto coins allow you to profit from playing, NFTs are assets with in-game utility that can also be traded on the open market.
NFTs in games can be anything, from characters to land, and are usually exchanged on an open marketplace, owned by the game development studio, and a secondary market, where players exchange them with other players.
A big part of the success of any title in the blockchain gaming space comes from how valuable NFTs become. The assets usually start at a low floor price and grow with the game, arriving at crazy sums like in the case of Axie Infinity in 2021, where one basic Axie could cost up to $1,000.
Buying NFTs is a relatively easy process, you just have to make sure you have a wallet that can store them. Games also often give you the ability to see and explore your NFT collection through their own tools, connecting through web3 wallets like Metamask.
When buying an asset in the marketplace, you’ll be asked to pay a buying price + a gas fee. A gas fee is a fee required to finalize a transaction on the blockchain. The small cut is used to reward validators: computers in the network that help the blockchain run seamlessly.
The buying price is often split into 2 parts: one for the game developers, which earn a small percentage of all transactions in the marketplace, and the biggest portion, given to the previous owner of the asset.
Sometimes, game developers can’t afford to build an in-house marketplace for NFTs. In this case, they typically resort to Open Sea or similar marketplaces. On Open Sea, anyone can list their own NFTs for sale or purchase other users’ NFTs. It’s like eBay, but for the blockchain.
Joining a Guild for Minimal Investment
Sometimes, play-to-earn games can become quite expensive. In order to stabilize the market, and allow every player to participate in the economy, groups of players started to aggregate in Guilds.
Guilds are groups of users that collect assets and rent them out, through smart contracts on the blockchain or private methods of handling renters, for a profit.
Just like real property, renting an asset is typically cheaper in the short term, but can result in a loss of income and ownership over the long run. Players that can’t afford NFTs from the get-go are incentivized to start as renters, or “scholars”, and move their way up by playing the game.
Once they become wealthy enough to purchase assets, they can start their own guild or participate in the treasury of a guild. Guilds typically store all their assets in a common pool, called treasury, and rent them out through smart contracts on the blockchain.
Whenever possible, Guild managers opt for complete automation and will split rewards in-game and fees from the renting process without manual intervention.
Gaming guilds on the blockchain are growing rapidly, with the biggest Yield Guild Games amassing millions in funding and two regional corporations. Their main focus is building up an Axie Infinity portfolio and renting out their Axies to players in the Philippines, who then return 30% of their income to the guild managers.
Many guilds are starting to focus on multiple games, as YGG proved a single line of investments can be quite shaky. Axie Infinity has seen better days, and Yield Guild is now trying to switch their focus to new games.
Always do your own research when joining a guild. However, typically speaking, guilds are vibrant communities, usually hanging out on Discord servers, that can help you out by providing assets, education, and a great group of friends to play with.
To learn more about guilds, check out our FAQ and list of play-to-earn gaming guilds.
What does Tokenomics mean?
When talking about “Tokenomics”, we refer to the list of rules and paradigms a game studio sets for its governance token(s). A governance token stabilizes the economy and is usually the token used to purchase NFTs in the marketplace.
Most tokenomics include a breakthrough of expenses and a big portion of rewards dedicated to players. The rewards are usually distributed with another on-chain and/or off-chain token. To give you a practical example, Axie Infinity uses $AXS for governance and $SLP for in-game rewards.
In-game rewards tokens are usually less valuable and less scarce, while governance tokens represent a more unique token that also has added benefits in the form of smart contracts.
To study the tokenomics of a game, you should refer to its “whitepaper”. A whitepaper is a document detailing how their token is spread amongst the team members, players, and game development. Most games are also covered daily by our writers, and our collective experience can help you avoid investing in unstable new studios.
A sound tokenomics always includes sufficient funding for the developers and a long vesting period for all the key stakeholders. A vesting period of at least 12 months guarantees the team is incentivized to grow the internal economy and take the game to the next level, instead of cashing out the profit and running away with your money.
Additionally, the governance token should be listed on a CEX (centralized exchange) in order to convert into fiat currency, such as USD, EUR, or GBP. If not possible, you should at least find it on Decentralized exchanges like PancakeSwap or SushiSwap where you can swap it for USDT / USDC, the most popular stablecoins nowadays.
Here is a Video Explaining Crypto Gaming Tokens
Game Economy / Business Model
The play-to-earn business model is the latest development in the games industry. It’s a business model that embraces the concept of an open economy and provides financial benefits to all players who add value by contributing to the game world.
Additionally, play-to-earn games provide full ownership of in-game items that can then be traded (like old TCG games) on the open market.
Giving gamers ownership over in-game assets and allowing them to increase their value by actively playing the game are key components of the play-to-earn business model. By participating in the in-game economy, players are creating value for other players and the developers. In turn, they are rewarded with in-game assets. These digital assets can be anything ranging from cryptocurrencies to in-game resources that are tokenized on the blockchain. That’s why the play-to-earn business model goes very well together with blockchain games.
In the play-to-earn business model the game rewards players for putting time and effort into their game. For example, in Axie Infinity players earn Smooth Love Potion (SLP). Players need these tokens to breed new Axies, but they can also sell the tokens to other players on the open marketplace.
In this ever-evolving section, we’ll list the most commonly asked questions related to play-to-earn games. If you want to meet other players and ask questions about specific projects, join our Discord Community.
add remove Are Blockchain Games a Scam?
No, the majority of play-to-earn games are legit games developed by development studios all across the World. The development can sometimes be slower, and they surely feature some never-seen-before mechanics in the first fundraising phase (eg. IDO, Liquidity Pools, IMO, etc.), but it doesn’t make them a scam.
Play to earn games are here to stay and, even if the vast majority won’t sustain the proof of time, some will – and we’ll guide you through the best ones in our articles and tutorials.
Nevertheless, we advice you to do your own research, join the community and discuss with other players before investing anything in a game.
add remove What is a Scholarship?
Scholarships are contracts and benefits offered by a guild or DAO to renters or, as they’re usually named, “scholars”. Scholars can rent assets from the guild, and will in turn offer them a profit share of all earnings in the game they play.
Scholarships became popular for the first time with Axie Infinity, offering players in developing countries the opportunity to play. Guilds like Yield Guild gave people in the Philippines a chance to pay off debts, provide food to their families, or add an additional stream of income to their finances.
Axie Infinity Scholarships literally changed the lives of thousands of players worldwide, and this innovative renting model, now mostly perpetrated through in-game smart contracts (or lending), is set to revolutionise gaming forever.
add remove What is Move-to-Earn, Win-to-Earn, Play-and-Earn?
They’re different terms to refer to the same concept: earning money playing games, without becoming eSport players. Some of them specifically refer to an activity you have to do to earn money (for example, “Move to Earn” is usually associated with games promoting healthy habits and daily walks, and players are rewarded on the number of steps they complete per day).
add remove Is it Free to Start with Play-to-Earn?
It depends. Sometimes, like in the case of Town Star, it is. However, most play-to-earn titles require an NFT to play or, at least, to start earning money from your efforts. It’s recommended you start from a free-to-play title and gradually move on to more expensive games.
add remove What are blockchain games?
When we talk about blockchain games, we mean games that utilise blockchain technology for one or more aspects of their game experience. There are games that only store ownership over in-game assets on the blockchain, and there are games that run their entire world on the blockchain. Between these two extremes, there are different degrees.
add remove What is the Metaverse?
There are many projects in the blockchain space that I adore for all kinds of reasons. However, some of those projects try to own the term ‘metaverse‘. They say stuff like ‘the metaverse of our game’. That’s wrong. There’s no such thing as a metaverse of one thing. The metaverse is the air we all breathe no matter where we go. The metaverse is inclusive, and it doesn’t discriminate or limit. In the metaverse, there is no space for walls and borders, because the tools that make the metaverse are there to break those borders down. Those who build walls ultimately will remove themselves from the metaverse, while the metaverse will just continue without them. The metaverse is open, interoperable, and persistent.