Pay to Play? Play to Earn? Play and Earn?
Pay to Play? Play to Earn? Play and Earn?

Pay to Play? Play to Earn? Play and Earn?

Dec 22, 2021 12:08 PM
Digital games like Pepper Attack, Splinterlands, Blankos, and Axie Infinity have come a long way from when I huddled around a black and white TV screen back in 1975 at my neighbor Tracy’s house to play “Pong”. It would take a lot more than we have space for in this article to cover all the bases, but I’m sure we can agree that the evolution, (if you believe in evolution) would leave Darwin proud!“Pong” wasn’t cheap. Neither were the first computers that could handle digital games of the time. Fun? Hell yeah. Expensive? I tell my wife that it’s not as bad as golf, to justify the usual $50 price tag of a new PC game (plus a pretty common $15 monthly, if there is a subscription attached to an MMORPG).
notion image
I still remember firing up a pirate game on my old Apple IIc, as well as going to lan parties. These were gatherings where we boxed up full-blown desktops and monitors that weighed more than an anchor to head to someone’s house or garage to connect by the sing-song sound of phone modems and compete in the games of the time… games like Warcraft2, Heretic, Duke Nuke, and of course DOOM! All the wires and gizmos were not unlike a garage band. Just without the band.
Any long-time PC gamer can pretty much lead you through the stages from this point on… computers got smaller, and you can say “cheaper” to a degree, depending on just how “state of the art” you insist on your rig being. The games that “hooked” many of us went from the more simple and “pixel-ee” look of Doom, Wolfenstein, and Ultima Online to the sometimes “better than life looking” graphic powerhouses of the games of 2021.
Strangely, it seems the “$50” price tags of the games of 1997 haven’t changed too much for single-player games. However, a new breed of game emerged in multi-player gaming, the “free-to-play”, or FTP model. This iteration lets the player download and play the game for free, in most cases with all the levels, bells and whistles. “How does the game company profit?” you might ask. You pull out your credit card to buy weapons, armor, potions and other items… or buy “skins” for your character. These “skins” are limited edition visual looks for your character, that change the visual image and appearance. While the game is free, these skins are not only plentiful, but pretty “bad-ass” looking, making them a very attractive purchase. (if only they would let me play better!) Games like Fortnite and Apex Legends, who earn their keep by selling skins and such almost literally print money by topping yearly sales figures in the billions. (that’s “millions”, but with a “B”!)
The upside to the player, of course, is looking incredible while fragging the enemy. The downside? The skins are neither resellable nor tradeable. So while it might sound worthwhile to spend $100 a month or more (sometimes a LOT more!) to sport the classiest equipment while playing the game, if you want to cash out when you want to take a break or move to the next game… forget it. It’s money down the drain. The solution? Enter “play to earn” gaming!
notion image
The “play to earn” model of games was almost a natural progression as games started to appear on the blockchain. The speed, safety, and anonymity of the blockchain was the perfect backdrop, and creative coding and contract writing seemed to pull it all together. Now, like the FTP, or “Free to Play” model, players could in most cases download and play the game for free. As they progressed, either skill or time in the game would earn them the designated token. So for the first time, instead of “paying to play”, gamers could “play to earn”.
In fact, some games even allow individuals in countries with smaller minimum wage levels to earn a better income playing a computer game then many would earn working full-time. Many of these games are accessible to many, because all they require is a personal computer, while others are available on a mobile device.
Some of the earlier play to earn games required no purchase whatsoever, while others require a small fee to get started. An example of the latter is Splinterlands, with a $10 option that allows you to make more profits. Others require the purchase of some tokens, some provide “cards” for a card game, or maybe even an NFT character to enter the game world with.
With these first games, if you were ready to move on to a new game, wanted to take a break, or simply need some cash, you can “cash in” your characters, equipment, weapons, or tokens. Where many of the older non-blockchain games have “gold” or some other “game-only” type of currency that has no real-world uses, many p2w crypto games pay you with real tokens on the blockchain. Depending on the game, some allow you to purchase other in-game items, NFTs, or “skins”. Others let you simply convert the tokens to real, cold, hard cash!
The only issue with early “play to earn” games, was while you did put some coins in your pocket, many just were not all that fun to play. (this author has decided, as a professional courtesy, not to name any) As competition became stiffer, it became apparent that to draw players to your metaverse,  “games” needed to also be “fun”... and the term “Play AND Earn” was born.
Yes, it IS fun to simply make money playing a game… even a bad game… but when the game begins to feel like “work”, something needs to change.  After all, if you get to the point you’d rather go to the dentist than log in, it’s time to get a new game. “Play and earn” games are titles that you would play anyway, with or without the earnings. The profit… is just a bonus!
notion image
However, as developers, like us at Pepper Attack realized, games should be fun. Pepper Attack will reward players not only with a fun, role-playing strategy game but an opportunity to earn cash money in the form of blockchain tokens and collectable NFTs on a daily basis. Sometimes though, this takes time.
However, in defense of the early blockchain games that were/are less than entertaining, any real gamer knows “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. Neither was World of Warcraft. A quality game, known as a “triple-A” (AAA) game can easily take 3 to 5 years to produce. Fortunately, plenty of games are on the horizon, many to be launched sometime in 2022.
Not only are leading game companies realizing the future of gaming is on the blockchain, in “play and earn” titles rather than “pay to play”. Millions of players not only are flocking to the genre but embracing it.

The author: Nick Cifonie, (siph-oh-nee) more widely known as “Znick”, or “Deacon Z”, is a long time PC gamer who has also spent decades in a sales/marketing career. Nick is now working with the team for the upcoming blockchain “play and earn” game called Pepper Attack.