The total value of the crypto industry market is way over $1 trillion when accounted for adjacent industries and projects that are not traded publicly. In this sea of money, the portion of the gaming sector is very minor. However, it may all change very soon. NFT play-to-earn games are our future, as many experts believe while evaluating interesting projects that have emerged during the last 5 years.
What are NFT games in 2022 with play-to-earn mechanics? These titles are popular games or heavily gamified social platforms that offer players a way to make money while doing in-game activities. Some are focused on strategic development, some want you to battle against other players, and some allow you to pet virtual dogs. The extent to which these games are capable of disrupting the existing industry is hard to measure.
Crypto Play-to-Earn Games
The idea of incentivizing players to play by offering them monetary rewards was explored by many companies in the past. One of the most famous examples is the inclusion of the real-money auction house in Diablo III by Blizzard Entertainment. While it did fail spectacularly and was removed after a short period, some users were interested in the concept.
The arrival of cryptocurrencies to the mainstream discourse meant that there now was a completely new domain for any online activities with various perks that were not on the table just a couple of years ago. For example, NFTs are excellent for transferring ownership rights without any legal interactions or paperwork. You don’t even have to oversee how NFTs have moved around. Everything is written in a ledger.
Non-fungible tokens have been and still are used primarily to represent ownership of various digital artworks. While it is the most common use, it is not the most practical one. Many experts immediately started talking about the possibility of using these tokens in gaming to represent actual items that can have unique properties in a virtual world of a video game. It looked like these concepts were destined to be used in conjunction with one another.
Today, we have many interesting titles that generate value. You can play certain NFT games to make money. However, these new forms of digital entertainment do not exist in a vacuum and require fine-tuning. Such ecosystems are fragile and can completely break down without governance. Whether such governance corrupts the very concept of decentralized finance is a completely different conversation. In gaming, the best free play-to-earn NFT games must have at least some overseeing body.
The Best NFT Games to Earn Money
Despite being a very young section of the industry, all NFT games have large player bases. While not many achieve the same success as Axie Infinity a year ago or Spider Tanks, the potential is certainly here. You can already engage with dozens of different crypto play-to-earn games and enjoy free rewards that are awarded to the most active and best-performing players.
If you need a comprehensive play-to-earn crypt games list, we’ve got you covered. Below is our selection of TOP NFT games in 2022, play-to-earn, and others.
#1. Axie Infinity.
Released in 2018 by a Vietnamese game studio Sky Mavis, this title immediately became a huge hit in the Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam. The game is an auto-battler where you collect a team of several Axies and make them battle against other players. By beating the competition and rising to higher ranks, players receive new axies and other in-game resources.
The native economy runs on the Ethereum network and offers great flexibility. Recently, the game had to change its direction and fix the economy to avoid a significant recession. The downtrend of their token SLP was caused by both unsustainabilities of their ecosystem and a huge hacker attack that left the Ronin Network without over $640 million. Despite Sky Mavis’ statement that some funds will be recovered, the public image of the game was tarnished. A strong token price drop challenges play-to-earn gaming enthusiasts to reconsider their ideas about investing in such games too much.
Currently, the game is still enjoyed by millions of players from the SEA region. The future of the game looks bright with Origin Alpha being live and more updates and seasons announced. The native AXS token has an impressive $1.48 billion market cap and good signs of future growth.
Inspired by collectible card games like Magic the Gathering and Pokemon, Splinterlands is a great example of a title that can attract players without fancy graphics and cross-platform play. The game is available as an app, but most players use a browser to engage with its content. While it is a very competitive and demanding title, there is an option where competition is less intense, but without any monetary rewards.
Splinterlands initially issued a drop challenge, play-to-earn gaming is all about NFTs and developers quickly found a way to get the crowd excited. When the first rewards were distributed, players started buying cards to make powerful decks and compete for top spots on the ladder. Some say that it is impossible to achieve high places without paying for better, rare cards. However, skilled players can earn free rewards and make enough money to purchase strong decks without the necessity to invest personal funds.
Cards are spells, creatures, and other things that are used during battles. They have various stats that make them unique:
- Health is the number of life points that must be depleted for a creature to die;
- Speed determines the order in which a creature performs its actions;
- The attack is the strength of a creature and how many health points it removes from a target;
- Mana cost is the price a player must play during the battle to play the card.
There are other important stats like splinters, abilities, and armor. Depending on the rarity, these stats can be higher or lower. Unique abilities also define the value of any given card. The SplinterLands collection is available on OpenSea with some cards selling for hundreds of ETH.
#3. Sandbox 3D.
One of the most famous and successful metaverse projects that have a thriving economy and a very intense real estate market, Sandbox 3D is a voxel game where you can battle against monsters, build homes, buy land, and engage in social activities with many other users. Recently, it impressed users with unique features, multiple types of gameplay, and some promotional events that reached the mainstream audience.
Initially, the core attraction of the title was the opportunity to trade land. Now, there are several great ways to generate value. Those who want to play NFT games to make money will be more than happy with the amount of stuff they can get:
- Unique avatars that are NFT collections with over 10 thousand variations. You can choose from 3 distinctly different collections.
- Avatars that you use to visualize yourself in the game world. These are player models that have unique aesthetics.
- Entities and art are things that you can use in the world actively or place in your home. Some of them have high prices.
- Land and Estate are the most important part of the ecosystem. People can own, lease, and sell land as they see fit. The lowest price of a land piece is 1.33 ETH as of the summer of 2022.
Sandbox 3D already has a defined gameplay loop, interesting social activities, and enough users to sustain a healthy economy. If you wonder how to get NFTs for free, you should check this game out. They regularly give away valuables, award prizes for in-game activity, and offer different perks to paying customers!
#4. Star Atlas.
Surrounded by controversies and questioned for its unclear direction, Star Atlas is still a game that demands your attention if you are interested in how to earn money playing NFT games. Star Atlas had a couple of rough patches and saw a massive downtrend, but it continues to expand with new features and additions.
The game is a mining simulator in space. Players build fleets of ships and send them on mining missions. The rate of success, yields, and safety of each trip depending on the strength of the fleet. Ships return to their bases with cargo hauls and you can sell resources for the currency that you can exchange on external marketplaces.
Ships can be purchased and staked to bolster the economy and generate income for stakers. Most players are using their fleets to gather resources, but you can also participate in battles and complete quests. Rewards for such activities are incomparable to what you get from engaging in economic activities.
Many argue that the direction of the game is wrong and forcing players to only see the commercial aspect of gaming is not a good choice for a game that wants to last for a long time. Nevertheless, it is the only title developed entirely in Unreal Engine 5. It has good graphics, interesting visual concepts, and a big player base.
A massive online battle arena with millions of active players, Thetanarena is a fast-paced PVP game that rewards the best players with unique NFTs and has a very active marketplace. Colorful graphics, intense gameplay, multiple modes, and a large selection of heroes make it an amazing example of what top-ranking play-to-earn games look like.
There are 4 separate modes with different rewards, rankings, and matchmaking:
- Tower Destroy is a 4x4 game mode where the main goal is to demolish enemy structures.
- Super Star is a 4x4 mode where you have to protect and steal superstars.
- Deathmatch, as the name suggests, is a 4x4 battle where the team with the most eliminations wins.
- Battle Royale is the main mode where the last man standing wins it all.
All heroes are NFTs with different stats and other characteristics. While skill has the biggest impact on your overall performance, there are objectively weaker and stronger heroes. You can purchase them with fiat money or in-game tokens THC. Prices are quite low, especially compared to what other marketplaces have.
Another type of NFT is cosmetics. Emotes, avatars, profile frames, and spaceships are also traded regularly. The variety of unique items is a good thing. With over 24.4 million active daily players, this game is certainly one of the biggest among play-to-earn titles.
Fantasy football is one of the biggest draws that a gambling website can have. However, the concept is great even without actively betting on your favorite players. The concept has many potential prospects for future development. One of them is Sorare, an NFT-based game with lots of opportunities to make money by playing and winning.
Over 280 licensed soccer clubs and 30 MLB teams make a great roster with cards of players from LaLiga, Superlig, Premiere League, and other prestigious national leagues. Cards are placed in rosters that compete against other rosters. Winners are determined by comparing the results of players that they get while playing in real life.
All collectibles can be traded on third-party marketplaces. Players are not governed and can do whatever they want with their cards. Sorare NFTs have over 17.2 registered owners, over 330K different items, and 50K ETH in total volume. While not as active as it used to be, the game still has a very active community with many users regularly hosting independent competitions.
#7. Spider Tanks.
This game is certainly one of the most promising titles in the whole industry. If you are someone who calls NFT play-to-earn games our future, Spider Tanks is the embodiment of this dream. The game is a battler with various mechanized vehicles to choose from. You participate in PVP combat, battle your way to the top of rankings, and earn NFTs that can be later sold for real money.
While it is not yet finished and there are only limited collections that can be purchased on various markets, the current build of the game is quite good. The mechanics are unique and fresh. The concept is very simple which is great for a title that focuses only on combat and nothing else. The development team is experienced and wants to deliver something memorable.
Spider Tanks is a perfect example of what could happen when talented people decide to find a way to express themselves in an environment that welcomes nothing but creativity. The imaginative art style, excellent sound design, superb performance, and a high level of engagement with the community make this game a great game that has a very promising future.
Despite being a relatively young title that did not implement all announced features, it has over 9.9K owners of NFTs, 2.9K ETH in volume, and 180 unique items featured on OpenSea.
The future of NFT P2E games
A hotly discussed topic in the gaming community is whether we need NFTs and blockchain in games. The commonly expressed answer is “no”. However, the niche already exists and has many fans. The constant infighting within the international crowd of games is not something that should be under the spotlight. The industry is evolving and NFTs are part of this continuous process.
While you may not be interested in owning a digital asset from a video game, other people may be more than just excited about having an opportunity like this.
NFTs have many potential practical applications in gaming:
- Ownership of in-game items. Some argue that these NFTs will be valuable only as long as the game is supported. However, the very proof of ownership will be forever saved on the ledger meaning that you will keep the collectible for as long as you want. We still keep our beloved cartridges with NES games despite them being obsolete. Many still hold their games dearly even without a console to play them!
- Transferring digital assets. Land, property, and other virtual items can be effortlessly transferred from one player to another without any third parties involved. While marketplaces are important for trading, a transaction does not require anything but an internet connection. You don’t need any external infrastructures to move NFTs.
- Rewarding players with unique items. Many games struggle to create rewards that players want. NFTs are a great way to make something truly unique and transfer ownership to someone who earned it. Many contemporary games release NFTs that can be sold for money, but they are initially distributed as prizes for in-game achievements.
- Creating a strong incentive to play. The problem with gaming is that it is often considered a time sink. We spend countless hours playing games and earning various items. When we leave, our virtual wealth is transferred back to the game and we don’t have anything to show for wasted hours. However, NFT P2E games offer you an opportunity to cash out when you decide to quit.
We still have a long road ahead of us. The mainstream game development industry is still not fully on board with the idea of implementing P2E mechanics in their titles. We still have doubters and those who enjoy nothing but paying corporations to entertain them. However, the change is coming. It may take years, but we will have internationally popular titles that reward players with real money for simply being good!
The main takeaway
You can certainly earn money by playing P2E games. Nonetheless, you should not focus on the monetary incentive alone. There are many merits to playing games like Axie Infinity and Spider Tanks. These are entertaining, creative titles in which developers put their hearts and strongest efforts. Enjoying them for gameplay, art style, and design should be your priority.
Many great titles deserve your attention. Some of them are shameless cash grabs. Some will never take off, due to the lack of talent, dedication, or effort on the part of developers. However, several gems can change the whole industry! All we have to do is find them!