Cryptocurrencies can be both investment assets and currencies. But the power of blockchain software enables them to do more than the paper bills in your wallet or the stocks on your brokerage account.
Some cryptocurrencies are used for gaming. And a subset allows players to earn cryptocurrency while playing, making them both fun and profitable for some.
But do they make sense for your finances? We’ll take a look at play-to-earn crypto games and currencies so you can make the most informed decision.
What Are Play-To-Earn Crypto Games?
Play-to-earn cryptocurrency games are video games that incorporate features powered by cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs). You may be able to buy characters, in-game properties, outfits, weapons, decorations, and other assets.
For example, in the game Upland, you can use an in-game currency (UPX) to buy properties recorded on the EOS blockchain. Hummus and Dragons is a free game for iOS that rewards you in Falafel Coin, a tradeable crypto asset.
But these are just scratching the surface of what’s possible in the quickly growing cryptocurrency gaming category. If you’re into crypto and gaming, you might find these play-to-earn games a fun way to earn a little crypto for your digital wallet.
Top Play-To-Earn Cryptocurrencies
CoinMarketCap lists about 200 different play-to-earn cryptocurrencies available for trading, and we’re likely to see many more added in the coming months and years. Here’s a look at the latest "top five" list and what you need to know to get started:
Price Per Coin
Axie Infinity (AXS)
The Sandbox (SAND)
*As of 11/21/2021
Axie Infinity (AXS)
AXS is a currency used in the Axie Infinity online game. Axie Infinity is similar to Pokemon in many ways. Players work to collect, improve, and battle animals called Axies.
You can breed your own Axies, build them up, and sell them for Ethereum in the Axie Marketplace. Axies, land, and items are all NFTs connected to a digital wallet.
Ethereum is the currency used in the marketplace, which requires a Ronin cryptocurrency wallet. The AXS currency, known as Axie Infinity Shards, are used in-game, and you can earn them from playing.
Decentraland is a virtual world where you can make an avatar to explore and interact with other users. The blockchain game features a marketplace of NFTs including clothing items and decorations that can be purchased with the Decentraland token — MANA. Users can also buy virtual plots of land, called parcels and estates.
Some gaming enthusiasts may remember the old online game SecondLife. If so, you’ll find a somewhat familiar game interface with Decentraland. But it’s updated for modern computers and web browsers and powered by blockchain technology.
The Sandbox (SAND)
The Sandbox is a virtual world and marketplace where you can buy and sell everything in the game, including land, outfits, weapons, items, and decorations. The interface is similar to Minecraft but tied into a cryptocurrency wallet and blockchain.
The Sandbox is extremely flexible and includes features to create in-game objects and artwork, which are tradeable in the marketplace. You get paid in SAND currency when selling your creations and decorations. And you can convert SAND into any other cryptocurrency, or USD, using your preferred wallet and exchange.
Gala is a gaming company that works with five games (currently in beta and development stages). The GALA currency works in these and future games.
The current playable games in beta are Spider Tanks (for PC and Mac) and Town Star (for the browser). Spider Tanks is a PvP brawler, and Town Star is a city builder simulator. Upcoming games include a fantasy RPG, space strategy, and tower defense game.
You can earn and use GALA currency in-game or buy a license to operate your own node to receive additional rewards. The cost to start a node is around 10,000 GALA, equivalent to approximately $4,000. But you can play and buy in-game assets for much, much less.
WAX is short for the Worldwide Asset eXchange. The WAX currency powers the WAX marketplace, where you can purchase assets usable on more than 30,000 distributed apps (Dapps), which includes games, collectibles, and more. WAX is a blockchain designed for NFTs, video games, and collectibles focusing on the environment and carbon neutrality.
Across the WAX universe, it claims more than 15 million daily transactions by more than 400,000 unique daily visitors. WAX has partnerships with major brands, including Atari, Mattel, Funko, and Hasbro, indicating the currency likely has staying power and a long future ahead.
Pros And Cons Of Play-To-Earn Cryptocurrencies
Are Play-To-Earn Cryptos Worth The Effort?
Play-to-earn crypto games are a fun way to earn money. And some people have earned some serious income from selling NFTs and other in-game assets. However, there’s always a possibility that you’ll lose money or, even worse, get hacked or lose access to your crypto wallet.
As with any other cryptocurrencies or related projects, you should never invest more than you can afford to lose. And it’s a good idea to take time to learn how it works before sinking in too much cash.
But if you think it looks fun, there’s no reason to hold back. You can enjoy playing to earn cryptocurrency and, hopefully, you'll make at least a few bucks along the way. Just don’t get your hopes up too high about getting rich.
Eric Rosenberg is a financial writer, speaker, and consultant based in Ventura, California. He holds an undergraduate finance degree from the University of Colorado and an MBA in finance from the University of Denver. After working as a bank manager and then nearly a decade in corporate finance and accounting, Eric left the corporate world for full-time online self-employment. His work has been featured in online publications including Business Insider, Nerdwallet, Investopedia, The Balance, HuffPo, Investor Junkie, and other fine financial blogs and publications. When away from the computer, he enjoys spending time with his wife and three children, traveling the world, and tinkering with technology. Connect with him and learn more at EricRosenberg.com.