What Are Play-to-Earn Games and Why Play Them?

What are Play-to-Earn Games & Why Play Them
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The gaming part of blockchain technology where players earn cryptocurrency for having fun

Play-to-earn games had a great 2022. While the rest of the web3 market had seen stagnation or decline, blockchain games were having a breakout moment. Every week we saw high numbers of users playing and earning real rewards on a wide variety of platforms. 2023 isn’t going to be any different. Now you can find out what play-to-earn games are and why you should play them.


What is play-to-earn gaming?

P2E games are video games with blockchain technology attached. The concept behind P2E gaming is that the rewards you win inside the game have value in the real-world. So the gems, gold and tokens that you win by completing missions, you’ll be able to sell on dedicated web3 marketplaces.

Some of the tokens that you can win with P2E platforms can also convey voting rights on the holder. This means that if you win governance tokens as a reward for participating in, or winning, a game, you can use these to vote on important decisions that the game developers propose.

The third important part of P2E gaming is ownership. Not only do you own your in-game assets (more on that below) but you can also own parts of the platform you play on. Take The Sandbox as an example. Users can create and curate their own worlds within that platform. Then they can charge other people to come and visit.

How does it differ from traditional gaming?

With traditional gaming, players pay money to play a game. With P2E games, users can earn money from what they win. P2E gaming also offers users control over their in-game assets. Through blockchain and NFT technology, you can own your skins, weapons, avatars, items and anything else you pay for.

The other big difference is quality. Traditional video games are often backed by large creative studios with billion-dollar budgets. People often discuss the concept of Triple-A gaming, which means high quality graphics, story lines and gameplay. 

At the moment, very few P2E games are anywhere near the level of sophistication that traditional games have reached. Considering the progress that P2E gaming has made in a short period, it seems only a matter of time before blockchain game studios catch up with their traditional counterparts.

Saying this, there are plenty of titles already in production that promise to bring P2E gaming up to a higher level. Here are three of the most exciting ones to look out for at the moment:


Mirandus is due for release by the Gala Games studios and is one of the most hotly-anticipated games of the year. It’s a fantasy MMORPG where gamers can wander the landscape and win rewards in a number of different ways. DappRadar reported live from their AMA back in April.


GRIT is a Wild West battle royale where players fight it out to the death. Horses and gunslinging cowboys are your transport and playable characters. And on top of the cutting-edge gameplay, you’ll be able to earn real rewards.

Star Atlas

Star Atlas is an entire virtual world set in space. It’s a game, but it’s also an open realm where players can move around and meet other people. It has its own galactic marketplace and plans for a DAO that will move the platform towards full decentralization. DappRadar caught up with the Star Atlas CEO for an interview.

What are the biggest play-to-earn games?

If we take a look at DappRadar’s Games Rankings, we can see all of the biggest P2E games today. We track 47 blockchains and counting. And we’re always adding more. 

We also give you information on the number of unique active wallets that connect with a dapp and the dollar amount currently sitting inside a platform’s smart contracts. Added to this, we show you the volume of money coming through a dapp’s smart contracts.

On top of all of this, you can break down our information by different time periods. We show all of this data for different time periods. You can slice the information and view it over 24 hours, seven days, or an entire month.

These five games regularly attract the most users:

Alien Worlds

Alien Worlds is often found near, or at the top of DappRadar’s Games Rankings. We have a detailed guide explaining what Alien Worlds is. But in short, it’s a resource mining game set in deep space. You can also use our guide to find out how to play the game like a pro.

Axie Infinity

Perhaps one of the most famous P2E games, Axie Infinity hit the world’s headlines in 2021. The game consists of sending your little Pokémon-like critters into battle against opponents. If you win battles, you win rewards. Find out all about it with DappRadar’s extensive guide.


Splinterlands is a strategic card game where players can play, trade and earn profits. The basic object of the game is simple: select your best cards with the best traits, and battle opponents for victory. It came out on top in DappRadar’s Games of the Month for May.

Solitaire Blitz

There isn’t too much mystery about how Solitaire Blitz works. The ancient Klondike Solitaire card game has been given a 21st-century twist. The platform is built on the Flow blockchain and players need to beat their opponent in time-limited matches. We have a Solitaire Blitz guide to tell you how to play it.


Upland has a llama for a mascot and the city as its landscape. It’s a game for realtors and property speculators. Build up your digital portfolio and earn real money. It featured as our Game of the Week and we outlined how you can play it and win.

How to find the best play-to-earn games

As we’ve already seen, DappRadar lists (nearly) every blockchain game across 47 blockchains. So if you can’t find it on DappRadar, the likelihood is that it doesn’t exist. We also provide secure links to every dapp on our platform, to help you avoid being the victim of fakes and scammers.

Here’s a step-by-step guide for finding the best and most popular games on the market:

  1. Go to DappRadar’s Rankings pages.
  2. Click on the Games tab (you’ll find it under all of the blockchain icons).
  3. Now you’ll see every game we list across every blockchain.
  4. All games are automatically sorted by user numbers in descending order (most users at the top).
  5. You can also rank by Balance (assets in dapp’s smart contracts) or by Volume (value that has passed through a dapp’s smart contracts).
  6. As mentioned, you can filter this information to look at periods of 24 hours, seven days, or 30 days.
  7. We also have a tab showing New dapps. This is a good way to find the next big thing.
  8. Once you find the game you want to learn about, click on the dapp to go through to the Single Dapp Page. 
  9. Now you can find discover on-chain analytics and any information about associated NFTs.

You can also go to our dedicated Blockchain Games page and take a look around. We have overall usage stats, links to important articles and highlighted must-try games.

How long have play-to-earn games been around?

The answer to this question depends on who you talk to. Huntercoin is sometimes pointed to as the first P2E game. Launched in early 2014, the aim of Huntercoin is to travel around a basic map looking for coins. Other people call CryptoKitties, which launched in 2017, the first true blockchain game.

What we probably can say with some certainty is that blockchain gaming has been around for less than a decade. In that time, it’s gone from not existing to being a multi-billion dollar business.

Things truly took off for P2E gaming in 2021, during the worldwide pandemic. As people were forced to stay at home, and couldn’t work to earn money, P2E gaming became a source of income. Citizens of lesser economically developed countries were particularly prominent in blockchain gaming during this period.

Axie Infinity grew to be the most famous and one of the most lucrative games on the market. Players earned in-game rewards which they sold for profit on secondary marketplaces. Now, in 2022, higher-quality, more engaging games are hitting the market and the future’s looking bright.

A bright future for play-to-earn gaming
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