Is Play2Earn Gaming Model Dead In 2023?

7 min readJan 10


Or was it ever alive in the first place…

With the recent diversion from the 00’ vertical centralization of web2, many have embraced the idea of complete decentralization of the web content. Unsurprisingly, such efforts have opened the doors for many unregulated and rather speculative ways of implementing a new approach to the web. Let’s break it all down.

This phenomenon hit the already saturated game industry big time. With the dawn of cryptocurrencies’ popularity, the now rather polarizing Play2Earn tag rose to (in)fame. Is it still alive in 2023, and was it ever meant to last in the first place?

High Hopes For Free And Decentralized Web3

Web3, as such, had to be a solution for the imminent problems arising from the corporate grip of the web2 environment, headed by technological giants, aka ‘big tech’. Many have started to explore alternative ways of securing control back. Web3 games formed as such an alternative within the game industry. But are they the correct answer?

It depends. We distinguish between two main avenues for blockchain gaming.

Play2Earn vs. Play&Earn Blockchain Game Model

One of them is a plain play2earn model, in which games are not played to be enjoyed but played to earn — in that case, the room is reserved only for the mindless pursuit of highly inflated cryptocurrency or NFT trading.

Sure, from a certain point of view, play2earn might seem tempting for both developers and players. Crypto games and Play-to-Earn gaming has become increasingly popular in countries like the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Venezuela. For instance, Axie Infinity has particularly gained attention, with 350,000 active users every day. By playing this game, users could earn rewards in the form of Smooth Love Potions (SLP).

P2E Games: From 2021 Boom to Reality

In July 2021, players earned an average of 150 to 200 SLP per day, which equates to approximately $53.50. As a result, players could earn an average of $1,500 per month, exceeding their full-time job salaries. However, after its 2021’s peek, the token price plummeted and hasn’t recovered yet.

Splinterlands is yet another highly popular crypto game. How did its token evolve? The chart of the Splintershards (SPS) token strikingly resembles the fate of Axie Infinity, with its peak in 2021 and subsequent and long-lasting downfall.

Another example could be portrayed in Decentraland’s MANA token. With the ATH price at $5.1991, it dropped to a bare $0.5 and hasn’t recovered yet. MANA still struggles to reach at least a single dollar worth.

After all, the list goes on. Just take a quick look at all-time data of similar projects on CoinMarketCap to see my point in red numbers.

A lack of quality and consistency defines the underlying problem. Thus, players get quickly bored and predestine the game for the grim path:

  • Fewer players in the game
  • Less money returning back to the game
  • Decreasing token prices
  • Decreasing NFT prices
  • Failing game development ROI
  • Project failure
Play-to-Earn games journey: From birth to failure
Honest roadmap of P2E games

Another approach toward web3 gaming stems from bridging the quality of traditional gaming while making sure to offer players the freedom that decentralization brings to the table.

That is — an opportunity to truly own in-game assets and organize leagues with no third-party authority involved. In this model, players are motivated to play by a high-quality game, while the earning aspect is something extra.

The Immense Potential Of Blockchain Games — Is The Future Really That Bright?

Even the prosperous web3 game titles have to fight for solid ground despite the generous predictions. According to ‌a recent Global Blockchain Game research, the whole market is projected to grow from $4.6 billion in 2022 to an incredible $65.7 billion in 2027 at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 70.3%.

Investments in blockchain gaming fuel this unbelievable growth; however, the actual sustainability challenges face the public awareness of NFTs and blockchain technologies.

As a result, potential growth could be hindered by the lack of interest among traditional gamers. The majority of active players are still centered in the waters of web2.

Among mainstream players, 40 % of US, UK, and Indonesian players would consider trying out blockchain-based games. Their main reasons for reluctance are as follows:

  • Insufficient quality of the blockchain games
  • Insufficient knowledge of crypto & NFTs
  • Fear of losing money
  • Costs of entry

Bearing this in mind, it’s inevitable to bring AAA quality games on the table and focus on raising awareness among mainstream players to fulfill the positive forecast of ‌blockchain games’ market growth.

Everyone Can Become A Pro Player. Really?

Many foul promises have been made in earning quick cash for the play-time. This doesn’t solve the problem. Under such circumstances, the only ‘reward’ you get for your time spent with the low-quality game is some digital number with no intrinsical value.

Hero shooter Citizen Conflict democratizes esports
Citizen Conflict is set to disrupt traditional esports

But does it mean that the whole cryptocurrency-powered model is all in vain?

No, if the game itself can compete with ‌rivaling web2 titles in regard to quality. Only then can players be motivated to retain ‌screen time if the urge doesn’t stem from empty promises of quick income but from their will to enjoy the gameplay instead.

As a result, the only way ‌to apply the unskewed vision of the ‘play2earn’ model is to build an excellent game in the first place and let the players own the assets they win or pay for and organize tournaments they play in. In the end, the earning model shouldn’t be play2earn but rather play & earn, as suggested by Ashwin Lim’s article on the subject matter.

We even dare go as far as saying that the truly functioning model should be play & claim. Thus, the earning model is not bound to screen time, but the achievements are based on the players’ skills. This opens the doors for a sustainable rewarding model for players so that everyone can become a pro. Just how?

Our Spin On Web3 Gaming

The pivotal vision of our game titles is to materialize the convenience of the traditional web2 approach while squeezing the most out of the perks the decentralization offers. Having said that, our model lives beyond the play2eran formula.

In our ecosystem of AAA web3 games, we offer players high-quality standards on par with the leading web2 titles, along with the freedom and true ownership of in-game assets.

With our games, such as Citizen Conflict or AniMate, players don’t need to be backed up by sponsors to make it to the big league. Regular tournaments and the possibility of organizing their own tournaments opens the door for everyone to become a pro.

Open-world MMO RPG AniMate by QORPO Game Studio
Upcoming open-world RPG AniMate by QORPO Game Studio

In the end, the issue with play2earn blockchain games was never the problem of the games per se but rather the problem of poor execution and elusive reaches of the non-functioning game economy.

Takeaways — Play2Earn Is Dead, Blockchain Gaming Is Not

Is Play2Earn dead? — While the Play2Earn model, in which players earn for screen time, is dead, blockchain gaming is on the rise. The future of each web3 game title is based only on the unquestionable gameplay quality, competitive graphics, and functioning economy model.

How to succeed in blockchain game development? — Although the web3 games market is increasingly growing, most of the play2earn games are doomed. The way to succeed, however, stems from offering high-quality gameplay first, backed up by freedom granted by blockchain technologies.

How to democratize esports? — The problem with traditional gaming arises from the corporate grip on esports. It takes endless hours and generous sponsors to make it to the big league. The solution provided by web3 is to eliminate third-party authorities and offer players the opportunity to organize their own tournaments.

Bridging ‌web2 convenience with web3 innovations — The most significant aspect of a successful web3 title, besides crispy graphics and captivating gameplay, is to offer a user-friendly experience on top of the perks of blockchain gaming. Traditional players shouldn’t feel discouraged by the novelty of the web3 environment.

Stay tuned for more news and insights into web3 gaming. Follow us on our channels to stay in touch. Until next time.




QORPO World is the Next-Gen game developer with end-to-end solutions for blockchain gaming industry.