A comprehensive guide to understanding the play-to-earn blockchain gaming model for businesses

Sudeep Srivastava May 6, 2024
Play-to-earn blockchain gaming

Historically, the video gaming industry has always worked on a pay-to-play model previously run by arcades and quarter slots and now through gaming platforms that have to be purchased. So when a new model was introduced in the domain that gave players a chance to earn by playing games, it was destined to bring a paradigm shift in the industry.

Introduced as a part of the web3 momentum, the play-to-earn games model works on the blockchain to give players a mode of earning through cryptocurrency or non-fungible tokens. The idea behind play-to-earn gaming is simple. In place of buying a game, the model pays you to play it with an in-built incentives architecture that rewards your time through items that have verifiable ownerships, which can then be traded, sold, or purchased.

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While still in its infancy, the play-to-earn blockchain gaming business model is expected to grow at a CAGR rate of 21.3% to a market size of $3618.4 million by 2028. Noting the meteoric rise in the future of the play-to-earn industry, it has become critical for blockchain and gaming enthusiasts to know about the phenomenon. In this article, we are going to dive into the model in detail, touching on the basics of how it works, the benefits, the different models, and lastly, how you can start your play-to-earn crypto gaming business.

What are play-to-earn games?

Play-to-earn blockchain games business model allows the players to earn crypto income by playing games. While each game is different, the reward mechanism is usually the same – staking, trading NFT items, or farming the game’s cryptocurrency. The players can then use these assets to buy cryptocurrency or NFTs in the decentralized world.

Some examples of play-to-earn gaming business model can be seen in games such as Splinterlands, Farmers World, Upland, and Gameta, etc.

Start your play-to-earn business model today

The mechanics of play-to-earn blockchain gaming

Understanding the different elements of p2e games helps define how the model works – a piece of information contributing to a successful blockchain game development process. Here are the varied factors that come into play in the model’s development.

Web3 Game

The critical part of any play-to-earn games business model lies in having a game that would operate in the web3 or metaverse. Currently, three types of games p2e games developers are choosing to enter the space –

  • Metaverse games – metaverse is a virtual space where the players can interact with each other and create, own, and monetize their virtual assets. Some of the popular metaverse p2e games include Alien Worlds and Decentraland.
  • NFT trading cards – NFT cards are virtual collectibles that work on limited supply, just like physical trading cards. Their value increases based on their utility, rarity, and ownership. Some famous trading cards p2e games include – Sorare and Gods Unchained.
  • Role-playing games – the last play-to-earn blockchain game business model that developers typically vouch for are ones where the players are given control of the in-game characters with unique skills, features, and weapons. The players, in turn, need to complete the tasks to advance in the game and get rewards. Some famous role-playing play-to-earn crypto games include Blankos Block Party and Axie Infinity.


The next part of the play-to-earn business model lies in having cryptocurrencies attached to the play-to-earn games. Game developers typically have two choices – building a game-specific cryptocurrency or using the existing ones. For example, in the case of building a cryptocurrency to be used in-game, while beneficial in the long-term, in the short-term, it is not profitable.


Another critical element of the play-to-earn model lies in having in-game NFTs. The mechanics of play-to-earn games run on NFTs that can be bought, owned, traded, and even exchanged or sold on NFT exchanges. They are the primary motivators for the gamers to invest their time and money in a game.

Smart Contracts

Smart contracts are a crucial behind-the-scenes element of the play-to-earn games business model. The way smart contracts work in play-to-earn crypto games is pretty straightforward. Every time a player buys an NFT or in-game element, the ownership of it gets transferred to their name through a smart contract, which then acts as proof of authenticity and traceability.

Integration with crypto exchanges

Having your play-to-earn mobile game connected with crypto exchanges and NFT marketplaces can give you a leg up in the growing p2e space. Integrating this will make it easy for your players to buy, sell, or trade their cryptocurrency and in-game NFTs. The first step in achieving this partnership is to get your NFT listed on OpenSea or Coinbase.

Now that we have looked into what p2e games stand for and the mechanics behind the play-to-earn money model, the question is, why should you read into a space still in its infancy? The answer to this is that while most play-to-earn models are in a growing stage, the benefits they get to developers and gamers set the entire blockchain gaming industry up for success.

Blockchain in gaming space

Benefits of play-to-earn gaming for developers and studios

Play-to-earn crypto gaming industry is on the path to success and virality because of its long-term benefits to game developers. The game studio can launch an MVP to introduce the concept, tokens, and NFT – elements that will garner initial investments from players. Because the players will own the blockchain assets, they will be interested in investing.

Additionally, developers can build an immersive, unique experience for the players, rewarding them with high engagement and retention. Lastly, on the monetary front, studios get the option to earn commission on the sale, and trade in-game NFTs and tokens, leading to the long-term success of the play-to-earn mobile game platform.

Benefits of play-to-earn gaming for gamers

Historically, the gaming space has followed a close-end model wherein players spend money to play a game or buy in-game assets, but the moment they are done playing the game, or the game shuts down for some reason, all that spending goes to waste.

Play-to-earn crypto gaming works so that the players own the in-game elements entirely. This means that assets that the players unlock can be used to trade or earn through marketplaces, even after they quit playing the game. Thus, playing play-to-earn crypto games acts as a mode of passive income for the players.

These benefits of play-to-earn crypto games are enough to shape the future of the domain as one which is profitable, backs virality, and creates a rewarding experience for players. On that note, let us look into the current state of the play-to-earn blockchain gaming industry.

Key industry players

How does Appinventiv help draft a play-to-earn business model?

In our experience as a play-to-earn game development company, we have identified that game studios, developers, and partners work like business partners. The players hold in-game assets for trading, increasing the assets’ worth (and developers’ profits). The game developers, in turn, give them a rewarding experience where they can collaborate with other players and get a passive source of income. The way to achieve this lies in creating a sound play-to-earn blockchain game business model. Here’s how we accomplish that as a part of our blockchain game development services.

A. Finalizing the different play games to earn crypto models

In the p2e space, there are four gaming business models that studios typically choose from – Pay- to-Play, where gamers pay an initial amount before playing, Free-to-Play where gamers start the game for free and then spend buying advanced elements, and  Play-and-Earn where players earn based on their in-game efforts and its outcome through blockchain economics.

Our blockchain experts brainstorm the pros and cons of each model with the clients and finalize one.

B. Building play-to-earn crypto games

The essence of the play game to earn money model is creating a platform inviting players to purchase and trade virtual assets to advance in the game. On that note, the best game genres are multiplayer online strategy games, role-playing games, and trading games. We help our clients with creating an immersive web3 gaming experience.

C. Fix the revenue streams

There are three primary ways to earn money from play-to-earn NFT game development – In-game purchase and trade between players, transaction fees on selling assets on exchanges, and display advertisements. We help our clients integrate one or a combination of different monetization options in their play-to-earn games business model.

Post the creation of the play-to-earn blockchain game business model, we help our clients with the execution part that starts with creating the gaming platform on web3, building cryptocurrencies and NFT, and finally connecting the platform with crypto exchanges, making the trade of assets easier. Ultimately, we help you answer what the future holds for the play-to-earn crypto gaming industry? With a platform ready to join the leagues at the back of an immersive experience.

Looking to get your play-to-earn game idea to market? Talk to the mobile game development company that gaming studios worldwide trust for a glitch-proof, rewarding gaming experience.

Sudeep Srivastava
Co-Founder and Director
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