What is play to earn? How to make money with NFT games

With the rise of NFTs, Web3 users have begun to wonder how they can make money with NFTs. One way is by playing NFT games. Among other things, the play-to-earn model promises players the prospect of financial prizes.

What is play to earn and how does it work?

Play to earn, or P2E for short, is a business model that lets players of NFT games make money by playing video games. In order to play NFT games, gamers first need to register for the game they want to play. While registration is free, playing usually requires some initial purchase of game content in the form of an NFT.

The goal of most NFT games is to find, create or buy the most valuable items or creatures. Since these game items are NFTs, they can also be resold. As such, supply and demand play a decisive role in these games—the more players a game has, the greater the popularity of a rare item in the game. Game items can be bought and sold at different rates, causing profits generated with P2E to vary widely.

What are NFT games?

Most people don’t automatically associate NFT with gaming. In fact, the most popular NFTs belong to the category of NFT art. This is why non-fungible tokens are often equated with digital works of art. However, the scope of NFT also extends to gaming, where the unique tokens are ideal for representing rare items that gamers can find or purchase within a game.

NFTs are no longer only used as a means for collecting rare game items, they are now also being used as the foundation of NFT games. These games are played on the blockchain and mostly work according to the play-to-earn principle. Ethereum is arguably one of the most popular blockchains for NFT games.

Criticism of blockchain gaming

Despite the hype surrounding NFT games, the games themselves and the play-to-earn model have been heavily criticized.

One frequently voiced criticism of blockchain and NFT gaming is the burden it creates on the environment. Transactions with non-fungible tokens, such as creating and selling NFTs or bidding on tokens, require blockchain calculations. These, in turn, consume large amounts of electricity.

Currently, most NFT games run on the Ethereum blockchain. The popular altcoins blockchain uses the proof-of-stake algorithm. This significantly reduces energy consumption, making NFT games more environmentally friendly.

The play-to-earn strategy has also faced considerable criticism. With traditional computer games, users are required to pay a fixed fee. Registration for NFT games tends to be free, but to have full access to the game, players are often required to purchase tokens or NFTs. Because the gaming market and cryptocurrencies are subject to extreme fluctuations, investments in NFT games are speculative and risky.

The top 3 NFT games

Despite criticism, the blockchain gaming market is vast and continues to grow. Several NFT games have already implemented the play-to-earn model. Here are three of the most popular blockchain games:


CryptoKitties is an NFT game on the Ethereum blockchain. Players purchase virtual cats as non-fungible tokens and then pair them together to breed new cats that are more valuable. To do this, players must first purchase the cats using ETH. Additionally, the mating of NFT cats must also be paid for using the Ether currency.

The objective of the game is to obtain the rarest and most valuable cats through skillful breeding. The bred cats then become NFTs that can be sold. This is where the play-to-earn aspect comes in. Players who have bred particularly rare specimens may be able to sell them at a profit to other players of CryptoKitties.

Axie Infinity

Like CryptoKitties, Axie Infinity also uses the Ethereum blockchain. It is the most played blockchain game.

At the center of this game are Axies, which players can acquire as NFTs. After having obtained an Axie, players are tasked with raising them and then pairing them together. The game mechanics are reminiscent of traditional Pokémon games. Each Axie is unique and users can compete against each other using their Axies. Similar to CryptoKitties, players can earn money by breeding rare, strong Axies and then selling them.


Soccer enthusiasts can get their money’s worth with Sorare. The game on the Ethereum blockchain allows players to make a name for themselves as managers of their own soccer team. A team consists of five soccer players represented by NFT trading cards. The pool of players includes NFTs that are based on real-life soccer players. After creating their own teams, players can take part in matches and win more trading cards and Ether.

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