Comparing the Earnings of the Top 5 Play-to-Earn Games

XLD
10 min readJan 14, 2022

The decentralized finance (DeFi) play-to-earn (P2E) phenomenon in the Philippines took off with Axie Infinity, where gamers actively played it to earn up to three times more than their regular salaries. According to Sky Mavis, the creator of Axie Infinity, 60% of the game’s players come from the Philippines, with more players joining from emerging economies like Vietnam, Venezuela and Brazil.

One of the top reasons why Axie Infinity continues to gain attention in emerging markets is that, despite the high admission fees, there are various scholarship programs around the game that allow players to start for free. Besides Axie Infinity, other games also gaining popularity in emerging markets include CryptoBlades, My DeFi Pet, Splinterland. They present a solid income-generating model with a small initial investment, making them viable earning options among play-to-earn enthusiasts in emerging economies.

How Does the Play-to-Earn Model Work?

In crypto P2E games, in-game assets are tokenized, allowing players to gather them as non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Players, in turn, can collect and exchange playable characters, weapons, vehicles, and other in-game assets in NFT marketplaces for a profit. Play-to-earn games, like Axie Infinity and Crypto Blades, award their native tokens to the players for achieving various in-game targets, which can be converted to a stablecoin and then cash — with gamers usually selling these tokens on peer-to-peer (P2P) marketplaces. Smooth Love Potion (SLP), for example, the primary token of the Axie world, has a high demand on Binance P2P. Games like Splinterlands and Cometh also allow players to maximize profits by staking their native tokens.

Play-to-earn crypto games in emerging markets have become more than just entertainment, they have become supplementary sources of income — with players allocating their earnings from these games directly to household necessities. But, being able to convert these in-game tokens to usable fiat, or cash, is a difficult task: requiring them to follow an arduous process through P2P conversion apps that can sometimes be unsuccessful. For these players, this is the only option, as in the many municipalities where these P2E gamers are from, even centralized financial (CeFi) infrastructures seldom have a physical presence.

XLD Finance was built on the idea of financial inclusion, particularly of users from emerging markets, in the DeFi Space — enabling the free, convenient, and safe movement of assets between DeFi and CeFi especially in emerging markets. xSpend, the ecosystem’s first project, was developed to enable play-to-earn gamers to use their in-game tokens, like SLP, and stablecoins to pay for real-world services or items. Currently available to the Philippines, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Malaysia, users can buy mobile prepaid credits with their SLP and stablecoin, with more in-game tokens and real-world merchants to be integrated in the coming year.

The Best Performing Play-to-earn Crypto Games

There is a lot of information on play-to-earn games available online, but if you are just starting your P2E gaming journey, the volume of the information might overwhelm or, in some cases, confuse you. Whether you’ve already begun your P2E journey through Axie Infinity, or are considering entering the DeFi space through P2E gaming, we have compiled the best performing play-to-earn games in terms of gameplay, admission costs, and earning potential, to help set you off on your journey or broaden your horizons.

Axie Infinity

Axie Infinity is a game based on Nintendo’s classic Pokemon series in which users compete with one another by letting their virtual pets, known in this universe as Axies, fight. Players need to raise their own characters and assets before initiating a battle, and to earn rewards, they can complete daily tasks and other in-game activities.Smooth Love Potion (SLP) tokens are the platform’s currency, which players can gather and spend to improve the traits of their pets, buy new ones, or convert to fiat currencies.

With a cumulative NFT trading volume of $2.6 billion, Axie Infinity has become one of the most popular NFT games today, particularly in emerging markets. If an average user spends 3–4 hours a day playing the game, they can make around 151–200 SLP tokens which are roughly equivalent to $ 33.70 to $ 44.67, adding up to nearly $1200 a month.

When it first launched, the initial cost to buy 3 Axies — the minimum amount of Axies needed to play — was around $5. However, due to its increasing popularity, the cost to enter is now approximately $1000. New players who cannot afford the high admission fees can still enjoy and earn from the game with the help of scholarship programs like the ones offered by Yield Guild Games, where Axies are leased out, and the total profit is split between the player and the Axie owner — with owners taking around 20% — 30% of the split, meaning new players can earn around $700 — $800 a month.

My DeFi Pet

Like Axie Infinity, My DeFi Pet is all about collecting, raising, evolving and battling virtual pets. Basic gameplay entails buying eggs and hatching them into pets, with other in-game activities including growing crops on a farm to feed the pets. Users level up through these activities, enabling them to breed, evolve, and prepare their pets for battles. Each activity is divided into levels such as trading, ranking, and social features, generating in-game rewards in DPET, My DeFi Pet’s native token.

The upfront cost for entering My DeFi Pet is relatively low, making it ideal for those looking for a low-investment, revenue-generating play-to-earn game. Based on the currency price of the DPET token at the time of writing, it takes $3.93 to buy 1 pet,the minimum one needs to start playing. My DeFi Pet is on the Binance Smart Chain, requiring users to add BNB Tokens to their Metamask Wallets, which they can later swap for DPET to enter the game.

Completing daily tasks in the game, farming, and evolving pets generate DPET tokens which can be sold in the P2P market for cash. Apart from that, the pets can be sold in NFT marketplaces as game collectibles — earnings will depend on the rarity of the pet, so players can focus on evolving new pets. My DeFi Pet holds seasonal rewards contests from time to time: players will need to keep an eye out for these to win high rewards.

Splinterlands

If you want to invest in a digital card game with a working revenue model and a reasonable upfront cost, try Splinterlands on the Hive Blockchain, another popular crypto play-to-earn game in emerging markets. If you are familiar with card games, Splinterlands would be a no-brainer: the core gameplay involves drafting a deck of cards and battling against others. Being an NFT-based game, ownership is assigned to you each time you collect a card that you can trade in an NFT marketplace like Opensea..

Splinterlands is free to play, but if you are looking for rewards, the initial cost to buy a Summoner’s Spellbook starter pack is $10. You can either buy it through PayPal, after opening an account on Splinterlands or, you can pay in cryptocurrencies by connecting your Metamask wallet to the game.

Dark Energy Crystals or DEC tokens are the rewards you gain for winning battles on Splinterlands or completing daily in-game missions, with a turn around potential of $20 — $30 a day. With each victory, your account value increases, receiving more cards that you can sell to gain DEC tokens. SPS or Splintershards is another token that was launched in August this year by the Splinterlands team. DEC token holders earn SPS tokens as rewards which can be staked to increase income.

Other than selling your cards in NFT marketplaces, you can also cash out your DEC tokens by withdrawing them on Binance. All you have to do is check your balance and send them to Hive Engine, where you will have to set a bid for selling your assets. You will receive your earnings from the sale in HIVE tokens which you can send to Binance after paying a 1% commission. Then you convert your HIVE to USDT and sell it on the P2P marketplace for cash.

Crypto Blades

If tricky game strategies are not your cup of tea, you can try another popular game called Crypto Blades, which is more a game of luck than a game of skill. The core gameplay of this Binance Smart Chain-based game revolves around forging powerful weapons for the in-game characters representing the four classic elements and battling them against enemies, with each victory earning SKILL tokens. SKILL tokens can be exchanged for other cryptocurrencies or fiat.

To start playing this game, you can buy some BNB tokens on Binance and swap them to SKILL through ApeSwap or PancakeSwap. Then you can visit the Crypto Blades website, connect your Metamask wallet, and click ‘Farm’ to pay for your first character and weapon before entering the game.

The upfront cost to play the game depends on the price of the SKILL token. Recruitment and forging a weapon cost about .55 SKILL, and with the price of SKILL at $10.77 as of the time of writing(remember this is a dynamic price), the cost to start playing the game with one character is $6. If you want to start with 4 characters and one weapon, the cost will be somewhere around 1.76 SKILLS, approximately $19. Ideally, for better returns, you would want to buy 4 characters and 4 weapons, plus an extra free weapon to start, for which the upfront cost will be $23. This excludes Binance Smart Chain (BSC) transaction fees which could be between 20 and 30 cents for every in-game activity like initiating a battle.

Each character gets assigned a stamina count of up to 200 points which is consumed each time a player engages in a battle. You can choose your stamina within a range of 40 to 200 points, and each time you buy a stamina, BSC charges a transaction fee. To save on these costs, you can use 200 stamina points at a go instead of using 40 stamina per battle.

The potential to earn from Crypto Blades as per a 4-character setup with 40 stamina points and 28 matches within a span of 16 hours is 0.4144 SKILL which equals $4.46 per day without gas fees. The potential to earn, with 200 stamina points and 4 matches every 16 hours is 0.21912 SKILL, which is $2.36 per day without gas fees. At the time of this writing, the transaction fees were around USD 0.4826 cents. A player can break even after two months or roughly 300 hours of continuously playing this game, if they are on a winning streak.

Cometh

Are spaceships and asteroids mining your jam? Then try Cometh, a space-themed play-to-earn game powered by the Polygon network. The primary target of this game is to mine passing asteroids and comets and gain Liquidity Provider tokens rewards, such as a GHST/MUST pair. To start playing, all you need to do is buy a starter kit, approximately worth 200 MATIC, which is available in the Cometh Shop. Considering the current price of MATIC, the upfront cost can go above $400. The starter kit comes with Cometh’s in-game tokens called $MUST that determine the number of jumps you can make to reach near the orbit of asteroids/comets to mine them.

Entering this game on bridge.cometh.io is a bit complicated, involving two steps. The first step requires you to send $MUST to bridge.cometh.io via the Ethereum mainnet and the second step involves sending the MATIC tokens to the MATIC network via Metamask. A heads-up: this game is for advanced players. For more details on starting the game, check out this tutorial by game.cometh.io.

The Cometh community also provides rental services to new players to play free of cost, similar to Axie Infinity. The potential earnings from this game is hard to predict, but you can always check the rewards upfront by going through a comet’s details. Three ways players make money on Cometh is by receiving the LP tokens through mining asteroids/comets, which they can stake in ComethSwap. Players also earn rewards when another player uses their ships to pull themselves closer to the target. You can also rent out your spaceships to new players eventually through the rental service and earn a passive income.

It’s Now or Never

The world has seen a drastic shift from the corporate idea of working, to a more personalized one, with play-to-earn gaming nearing mass adoption. It’s been exciting to witness how blockchain technology has created an avenue for play-to-earn games, like Axie Infinity, to be considered as legitimate sources of additional income. This battle-simulator game has glued users to their screens, not just to pass their time and have some fun, but also to make money. This paints a clear picture of the future: where people from all walks of life get a level playing field and equal opportunity to earn while doing what they love.

Over time, these P2E games have become a sole source of livelihood for many unbanked people in emerging markets, like the Philippines. This guide was created to help new play-to-earn gamers make informed decisions before they commit to a game that piques their interest.

XLD Finance aims to empower play-to-earn gamers from emerging markets by providing them a platform to directly use their in-game earnings to pay for real world utility services. xSpend, our first ecosystem project, allows P2E gamers to use their SLP tokens and stablecoins to pay for mobile and other utility bills without the hassles of off-ramping. In the coming year, the ecosystem will be launching more projects that enable the free, convenient, and safe movement of assets between DeFi and centralized finance (CeFi).

To learn more about the XLD Finance ecosystem and be alerted for future updates, please visit our website, or follow us on Discord, Twitter, Medium, LinkedIn, and Telegram.

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XLD

XLD is accelerating the future of the digital economy by building efficient, inclusive, and secure on-chain financial tools for organizations and users alike.