What is Play to Earn in NFT Games?

With the emergence of play to earn in the crypto and gaming world, many developers and fans alike are asking; what is play to earn? Simply put, play-to-earn games are games in which the main goal is to earn and playing / enjoyment comes second.

As of now, there are many of play-to-earn games coming or promising everything you can think of. However, as with any investment proceed with caution as this is high risk! One example that pulled the rug was the infamous Evolve Apes, Enthusiasts raised 2.7million USD for the game’s development, but the developers took the money, leaving nothing to the players. Many play-to-earn games look promising and upcoming but, it is also important to proceed with caution when investing or playing in a new game that is play to earn.

This article will take a look at Axie Infinity’s concept of play-to-earn mechanics as it is one of the originators of the genre. Future articles will look at upcoming and potentially promising play to earn games.

Play-to-Earn vs Play and Earn

Let’s talk about first what is the difference between play-to-earn and play and earn. Play-to-earn games are games in which the main goal is to earn. The game’s progress revolves around getting profit. Games like this are usually built-in NFT or blockchain technology and produce currency that can be traded for fiat or other coins. One great example is, of course, Axie Infinity and its scholarship program at the moment. Scholars primarily play Axie Infinity to earn SLP and then exchange that into PHP or fiat. On the other hand, play and earn games are games that playing the game is first and earning is secondary. An example of this could also be Axie Infinity! How so? For example, I’m an avid card player and enjoy the genre. I realize that Axie Infinity is out there and decide to play because I enjoy the game. Earning to me is now a secondary biproduct and not the primary one.

The Basics

Let’s also talk about the basics; what is an NFT? NFT or non-fungible token is a unique, non-interchangeable unit of data stored on a digital ledger; it can be photos, videos, or any digital file. It is used in blockchain technology to give proof of ownership.

In Axie Infinity, the NFTs are your Axies, and each Axies are unique from one another. To be able to play the game, you will need three Axies to form a team. The prices of each Axie range from 0.05 ETH to as high as 400 ETH (for ultra rare mystics), the prices depend on Axie’s breed count, pureness, and genes. You can buy these Axies on the marketplace (note: there are no other websites to buy your Axies). Each Axie has four different cards, cards which you will use to battle in the Axie World. These battles will make you farm SLP (Smooth Love Potion), rewards that can be swapped for cryptocurrency or real money.

Click here to track the SLP value

The Play-to-Earn Mechanics

Now that you know the basics let’s go to the real deal, the play-to-earn mechanics. In the game, each day, your Axies are given 20 energy to fight through the battles. You can either fight on the Arena or in Adventure. Arena is Axie Infinity’s PvP mode; similar to other competitive games, you will be matched to your same MMR (matchmaking rank) range. Here every win will get you SLP; the number of SLP you get depends on what MMR you are at; as your MMR increases, your SLP gain also increases. This is also one of the reasons why some Axies are more expensive than others, as great Axies can make your MMR higher to farm SLP faster. Each win will increase your MMR by 15-20, and each loss will decrease by 15-20; draw matches will increase your SLP and will either increase or decrease your MMR; note that you will not get any SLP for losing. Also, you can only get SLP from the Arena when you have energy; if your energy turns 0, you have to come back another day. Player skill also plays a major factor in earning SLP.

Image is taken from Axie Infinity BEAT Invitational Tournament.

On the other hand, you can still gain SLP by playing the Adventure mode; however, there is a limit in Adventure mode. You can only farm a maximum of 50 SLP here, if you finished the Ruin 21 or 36, you would have an additional 200 SLP. You can also farm SLP here even when you don’t have energy. So, you might ask, what can I gain on playing the Adventure mode if I have energy? Well, you can level up your Axies with that energy, every win in the Adventure will give additional EXP (experience) to your Axies. This will make your Axies stronger and tankier to make each ruin easier. (note that your Axies only levels up in Adventure mode, in Arena all Axies will return to their base level). Besides Arena and Adventure, you could also farm SLP with Axie’s daily quests. You will have three tasks to complete to quest; to check-in, win ten Adventure levels, and win five battles in the Arena. If you meet these tasks, you will gain an additional 25 SLP each day.

Image is taken from Axie Infinity

So in total, every day, you can earn 50 SLP through Adventure, 25 SLP by completing the quest, and more additional SLPs if you keep winning your Arena matches. A high-tier Axie team can farm you an average of 250-500 SLPs a day; of course, that would still depend on how you do as a player. Also, remember that you can only play one account as a player; if you want to try multi-accounts, you will need a scholar.

SLP per win
SLP rewards vary depending on your MMR
Image taken from Axies Alert PH Facebook Page

Scholarship, AXS, and Other Bonuses

Due to the high upfront cost of some axies and its limitation on one account per player. Axie Infinity launched a feature called scholarships. If you want to read more on what a scholarship is, please read here!

For managers, instead of having excess axies laying around, the scholarship program allows them to be put into use by other individuals wishing to earn. This will help people who can’t afford to buy an Axie team play the game and earn and eventually buy their own team. Of course, the salary division is up to the manager, whether it is 50/50, 60/40, 70/30 etc.

Aside from SLP, another token you will encounter on the Axie Universe is the AXS (Axie Infinity Shard). Axie Infinity’s governance token, holders of these tokens will be able to shape and vote the path the game will go, unlike other games where only the developers decide what they want to do with the game. You can also stake your AXS token to earn more AXS or even vote for governance proposals.

AXS is the governance token for the Axie Infinity game. Token holders will be able to shape and vote for the direction of the game universe. This is unlike traditional games where the game developers make all decisions. AXS holders will stake their tokens to earn more AXS and even vote for governance proposals. You will be able to earn AXS thru playing various games in the Axie Infinity Universe and through user-generated content initiatives.

By the end of each season, the top 1000 players on the MMR leaderboard will get an AXS bonus, last season (18), the top rank player received 225 AXS, which is more than 10,000 USD.

If you’re not into staking, you can put your AXS into use with breeding! Breeding creates a new Axie and requires SLP and AXS depending on how many times you breed.

Click here to track the AXS value.

Image is taken from axie.substack Axie Arena Season 18

Not only that, the new esports scene inside of Axie Infinity uses AXS as its primary prize pool. October 30-31, BEAT Esports hosted an Axie Invitational Tournament. Top Axie players from different regions battle it out to take the 150 AXS prize pool.


Based on what Axie Infinity has accomplished, we can safely say that play-to-earn games are the next big thing. Though many are still skeptical about the play-to-earn concept, there are other large publishers joining the NFT Gaming space.

So, what do you think about the play-to-earn gaming trend? Is it just a fad or is it the future?

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