Tue. Jun 6th, 2023

PlayToEarn is revolutionary for blockchain gaming, but narrative shift shifts focus to ownership and gameplay

PlayToEarn, PlayAndEArn, PlayAndOwn, PlayToOwn

PlayToEarn has evolved into the term most associated with the 2021 blockchain gaming boom led by the popular Web3 game Axie Infinity.

The original blockchain gaming model featured tokens that players earned while playing, hence the name PlayToEarn. The idea is revolutionary, as the average gamer can now earn a living by playing games without being a content creator or professional gamer. Through $SLP farming in its initial mode, Axie Infinity has managed to provide players in certain countries with income above the minimum wage.

Play 2 Earn is dead.

It has been dead for a long time.

That’s great, and it means more sustainable models will rise to the top.

β€” Brycent πŸš€ (@brycent_) September 22, 2022

However, this mode proved to be a bit short-lived, as it was very extractive of the game’s economy. Value needs to enter the economy in order to extract value. When Axie Infinity becomes popular in 2021, value enters its economy through new players. However, when the supply of its utility token exceeds the demand, the price starts to fall as economic laws take over.

This is not an isolated case. Games with similar models all have the same problem. The horse simulation game Pegaxy on Polygon has attracted a large number of players, most of them from the Axie ecosystem. The price of its NFTs and tokens skyrocketed but fell just as fast. Web3 gamers began to criticize the PlayToEarn model, and it wasn’t long before games began to create new narratives.

P2E is not dead. It just morphed into P2Enjoy and P2Esports. 😁

β€” Spike (@SpikeReacts_) September 23, 2022


The story moved from PlayToEarn to PlayAndEarn in an attempt to shift the focus of the project from financial gain to enjoyable gameplay. The potential to make money from playing the game is still there, and players can still own their assets. The main difference is that developers are now focusing more on creating fun games rather than projects that generate financial returns.

We believe that “Play-to-Earn” means that players are able to earn Fungible and Non-Fungible tokens in the game world, which may or may not have value.

Over time, we noticed that players perceive it differently, so changed to “Play-and-Earn”

– Psycheout – Aleksander (@Psycheout86) July 27, 2022

In addition to the narrative shift, projects started to invest more in their game development. Value-added gameplay, rather than just interacting with the protocol, is a priority when it comes to motivating players. As more and more projects try to build a competitive esports scene to complement their underlying in-game economy, the competitive nature of games is one area that developers want to focus their incentives on.

PlayAndOwn / PlayToOwn

However, attaching the word “earn” still implies an extractive mentality, which doesn’t really help blockchain game economies, especially in their infancy. Earnings are still equivalent to the old model, and token earnings are treated as player salaries. From PlayToEarn to PlayToOwn, a new concept called PlayAndOwn or PlayToOwn began to take shape.

2/ Buying a house is not to sell, but to buy to live in because it has a purpose and you hope that in the future if you sell it and the market is favorable then you may make a profit. Web3 is the same.

Play and own, you can choose to sell

β€” SteveWoody.eth | The Undisputed Rookie (🌻,🌻) (@STEVEW00DY) May 1, 2022

The shift in focus from making money to owning removes this extractive mentality. This doesn’t inhibit players’ ability to withdraw tokens from the ecosystem, but it does retool the thought process to reinvest tokens back into the economy, rather than taking them out and creating additional selling pressure on tokens. The benefits from this narrative come in the form of ownership appreciation through non-fungible tokens (NFTs), the game asset.

The PlayAndOwn blockchain game Sunflower Land on the Polygon network follows this narrative well. In their protocol, players earn $SFL, the primary in-game currency and an on-chain token. However, instead of extracting $SFL from the ecosystem, the team built an ideal limited-edition NFT that can only be purchased using $SFL. Once these are sold out, players wishing to acquire assets must do so on the secondary market.

PlayToEarn is the revolutionary beginning of the blockchain gaming concept. Whether the change in narrative actually influenced the player’s decision to withdraw is still up for debate. But what is certain is that the ideology surrounding PlayToEarn has changed since the blockchain gaming boom of 2021.