The current perception of users toward play-to-earn
The success of Axie Infinity and its P2E system is an ideal starting point for GameFi. It is perhaps the most well-known example of a "successful" Play-to-earn project. But as successful as it may seem, the Play-to-earn industry consists of downsides that really affect how users perceive GameFi and Crypto.
???? Play-to-earn is basically a job. It’s not fun. You do something, and you get rewarded. Then people cash out their earnings, over and over. When the hype cycle goes away and the token price is dumped, they move on to the next project. If players do not enjoy the gameplay, there can be no organic fanbase for the project and its fate is eventually tied to the token economics side of the project.
Many play-for-money projects were born during its heyday, even with new "X-to-earn" models that were developed in various forms of earning through a particular activity. Yet, only when the tide goes down do you discover who has been swimming naked. Few, if any, of these projects have a real product to show off. What’s more, the majority of them are basing the value of their token on a vision rather than on interesting gameplay and a strong in-game economy. The hype and interest will hold only as long as the profits do.
As a result, the community witnessed a long line of similar, poorly-built projects using "blockchain" as a buzzword, focused on the ownability, tradeability, and money-making aspects while plugging in basic gameplay mechanics with visuals built out of Unity Asset Store assets or pixel artwork. It may appeal to those looking to make money, but many gamers take one glance and may never return.
This gives current and future users a negative impression of Play-to-earn. Users now only perceive play-to-earn as a revenue-generating opportunity, thus missing the greater positive shades that play-to-earn brings to the industry.
The underrated positives of Play-to-earn
Marketing incentives / user acquisition
Instead of concentrating on traditional marketing strategies, projects have the ability to leverage blockchain to distribute a portion of this budget through the play-to-earn mechanism, letting users earn tokens that can be exchanged for real-world value. This initiative is recorded to offer a growth hack for GameFi projects in terms of both brand awareness and user acquisition.
When participating in Play-to-earn, users from both Web2 and Web3 take their first steps onto the blockchain space with simple actions such as creating wallets, claiming tokens, swapping, etc. gradually experience blockchain applications without the need to go through complicated theoretical education in advance. Therefore, it drives the crypto and blockchain mass adoption vision forward.
The expansion of the business model out of the fandom
Play-to-earn dramatically grows fandom in a matter of months instead of years like in traditional games. Therefore, projects can generate diverse revenue streams through merchandise, additional NFT collections, and especially Intellectual Property (IP). Building upon the brand awareness of their characters, sequel games can be released that will have a greater likelihood of success. This also saves a significant amount of marketing expenses. Understanding how to properly leverage IP helps the game and its partners to grow.
Sky Mavis, the creator of Axie Infinity, has revealed the first projects in its Builders Program, through which players will be able to monetize their own creations.
An initiative meant to introduce user-generated content to the Axie ecosystem, the Builders Program sees players, or "builders", creating games and keeping a large share of the revenue; the rest of the money made goes to the community treasury or directly to players.
Axie Infinity Builder title Across Lunacia.
An Axie game created by a player: Mech Infinity.
While building a high-quality game is important, developers now have the opportunity to do more and bring value to players while strengthening the longevity of their games using blockchains. Intellectual property (IP) licensing is one way that studios can increase brand recognition, improve engagement with existing players, and attract new ones.
Product experiment and development
Play-to-earn draws a large community at a reasonable cost for the development team to test their game product. The primary purpose of game testing is to ensure that the final product meets the expectations of players and developers alike.
Unlike traditional games, play-to-earn projects require a more complex system—a healthy blend of gameplay and in-game economy. There are many variables to be dealt with. Millions of dollars have been invested in development costs and marketing. For this reason, product experiments cannot be taken lightly and should not be treated as a matter of convenience or preference so the game does not go to waste or cause more damage than it should.
The final product may change significantly from the original one at times, and it is acceptable as long as it matches market demand. This is also a criterion that helps evaluate the development team's flexibility; a strong team that is always prepared to adapt and stretch out without limitations to deliver the best possible result.
The Purification layer for the next generation of Play-to-earn
The market is witnessing the tail end of the first generation of Play-to-earn games, and many projects that rushed to launch have also been quick to fold. Every failure must be viewed as a learning opportunity by the next generation.
Failure is the most powerful source of knowledge and understanding. Failure ultimately shapes you as a leader.
A project can fail for a variety of reasons. However, this does not mean that every aspect of the project was inherently flawed. Identifying which features were a success and which did not work as planned can help a game builder make effective adjustments next time around.
For example, Heroes & Empire, a Play-to-earn project in the trending Teamfight Tactics-TFT game genre (with notable titles like Dota2 Autochess and LOL Chess), once attracted a lot of publicity but did not provide the expected results due to the fact that the game's economic model was not thoroughly designed. The next generation of Play-to-earn TFT games may learn from these predecessor projects and avoid going down the same path, thus developing a successful product in the future.
Play-to-earn has taken the gaming industry by storm, and it will inevitably become a mainstream platform for gaming. The main concern that most web2 games have is that web3 is a fraud. Similar to how TradFi thought about DeFi just before DeFi summer. Unlike investors, gamers are a different type of customer; they go where the fun is, and that is what web3 games should strive for.
It takes many stages of development to perfect a new model, and so does Play-to-earn. Currently, Play-to-earn has many problems, but the benefits and potential of Play-to-earn are much greater. Play-to-earn projects that wish to survive will have a long road ahead of them – but we believe that eventually the victors will still have a legendary bull run awaiting.