The play-to-earn gaming revolution feels poised to explode in 2022, with a number of leading gaming manufacturers jumping on board.
The field in general is often referred to as “the metaverse,” but play-to-earn games make up one part of the metaverse, which is likely to encompass a much wider range of activities including genres such as virtual reality, augmented reality and more.
Whilst we have tended to focus on betting and trading systems here at Honest Betting Reviews, we have occasionally delved into other areas like forex, stocks and crypto when we spot an opportunity to make some additional income.
Last year we felt a significant new opportunity was opening up with play-to-earn (P2E) games. The first of these we tried out was the fantasy football blockchain game Sorare, which regular readers will know we have become deeply involved in.
There are lots of other play-to-earn games emerging now though and it really is a brave new world. Some people are making a full-time living playing these games, whilst others are earning a nice little side income.
How NFTs Have Changed The Game
What has made all this possible is the emergence of NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens), which are the in-game items you can buy in video games.
Up until now, these had been the sole possession of the game developers. You did not actually own them, could not use them outside the game or have any claim on them. The game developer could take them away from you at any time – and many did, for example when it was a new season in a football game or a new version of a game came out. Those items were simply lost and the money you spent on them gone.
With NFTs however, you actually own the items outright. You can use them outside the game, sell them – and most importantly in this context – make use of them to earn revenue within the game.
This is made possible by the second key development in this space and that is the introduction of in-game cryptocurrencies. Most games now have their own cryptocurrency tokens, which you can earn – normally through owning an NFT but sometimes by completing tasks or finishing high on a leaderboard.
Then that cryptocurrency can be exchanged for fiat money and thus you can earn money playing a game which you can use to pay your rent, bills, go on holiday or do whatever you like with. Amazing stuff!
The Future of Gaming
As with all revolutionary technological developments like these though, there are always plenty of sceptics. Some are slow to change old habits whilst others see potential pitfalls everywhere.
Whilst not every P2E game will succeed, we believe that play-to-earn games are an amazing development and are very excited about their potential within the metaverse. Already P2E games are showing the ability to transform people’s lives in some lower-income countries and the development of things like guilds, renting NFTs, DAOs and more shows just how much innovation is happening in the space.
It is helping to democratize and decentralizing gaming, putting wealth and opportunity in the hands of gamers all over the world rather than concentrating it in multi-billion dollar gaming companies. That can only be a good thing, in our view.
Having looked at lots of these games and dived into quite a few of them, we wanted to bring you our Top 10 Play-to-Earn games that we see leading the way in 2022.
Top 10 Play-to-Earn Games
Okay so let’s take a look at our top 10 P2E games that we believe will lead the way this year. Some of these are available to play now but some of them are still in beta/development mode and due to come out later in the year. When they do we believe they will be big hits so it may be worth getting in early on them if you can.
Splinterlands is a card collecting and trading platform with characters that like a mix between Pokemon and fantasy-style characters.
You can play it either on your phone or a desktop and the aim of the game is to collect the cards and the in-game currency, Dark Energy Crystals (DEC). The game is based around battles between your cards – which are NFTs – and those of other players. By winning battles you are awarded DEC, which you can then use to buy more powerful cards and move up the ranks.
You start out with a set of free cards but to move up the rankings you will need to either rent or buy cards to improve your army. Renting cards can be a good way to get going and is relatively cheap.
According to stats on Dappradar, Splinterlands has over 300,000 users at the time of writing and there have been over 2m transactions on the platform. It is quite a simple, fun game to play and could be a good place to start for those new to the play-to-earn space.
Splinterlands is currently available to play. You can check it out here.
9. Zed Run
Zed Run is a virtual horse racing NFT game that was launched in 2019 and has established itself as one of the leading players in the space since then.
In the game you can buy NFT of horses and then race them in virtual horse races to win cash prizes. You can also breed your horses and in fact some people make a living just from breeding horses and then selling them.
Virtually Human Studio (VHS), the company behind Zed Run, raised $20m in a Series A fundraising in 2021 which included investment from venture capital firms Andreessen Horowitz and Red Beard Ventures. They have sold over $30m in racehorse NFTs since launching, even though the game is still officially in beta. Zed Run have partnered up with big brands like Atari and Stella Artois which hints at the marketing opportunities available for them going forward.
To join the game now the main option is to buy a horse on the secondary market via sites like Open Sea. Some of the top horses have sold for prices above $50,000. The most valuable horses in the game are the original “Genesis” horses that have a very limited supply and have all now been minted.
The horses are all classified by bloodline (Buterin, Finney, Nakamoto or Szabo), breed type (Genesis, Legendary, Exclusive, Elite or Cross) and genotype (with Z1 being the best all the way down to Z100+). These factors all have an impact on the quality of the racehorse and there is also a randomness to it, as in real life.
Zed Run has had some teething problems, most notably in the “drops” they conducted when selling horses, which we can testify from our own experience did not run smoothly and resulted in a lot of frustration from the community.
Interestingly though they are making some changes to the gameplay of Zed Run to take into account community concerns. These changes include allowing horses to be retired and introducing an in-game cryptocurrency to make payouts in rather than dollar amounts.
Whilst it has experienced some issues in its early years, Zed Run has still achieved a lot in a short space of time and we believe has a lot of potential to become a leader in the sports play-to-earn space. It is a project we are watching with interest.
Zed Run is playable now – you can check it out here.
8. Axie Infinity
Axie Infinity is a Pokémon style game where you collect and battle little bright-coloured creatures called Axies.
In terms of numbers of users, Axie Infinity is one of the top, if not the top, play-to-earn games out there. With 2.8m daily active users and billions of dollars traded on their marketplace, it has really exploded and taken the P2E space by storm. There are apparently large numbers of players in places like the Philippines, who earn a daily living off the game.
There are various ways you can earn money in the game including winning the battles, breeding Axies or trading them on the market. The price of the Axie Token (AXS) sky-rocketed as the popularity of Axie Infinity took off, going from less than $1 in early 2021 to over $160 in November, before falling all the way back to $69 at the time of writing. There is also the the in-game token, the Smooth Love Potion (SLP), which you earn for winning battles.
It appears however that there may be some problems with Axie Infinity’s token economy, with SLP having fallen 96% in value. Reports suggest this is due to an increasing supply of the token, with more and more players being awarded it for winning battles. This inflation in the supply of the token is not being matched on the demand side, with a lot less of it being burned than created. Sky Mavis, the developers of Axie Infinity, have themselves acknowledged that “this inflation in the token is not sustainable” and are considering various mechanisms for decreasing its supply in the long run.
Such issues are not limited to Axie Infinity though and all P2E games will have to carefully design and refine their token economies to ensure they work in the long term and are sustainable. Circular economies that provide utility – and thereby demand – for a token to balance out the high supply of constantly paying it out to users in the game are likely to succeed in the long run.
Hopefully the recent token economy issues can be resolved for Axie and despite the recent troubles it is still a hugely popular game so we felt warranted a place on this list.
Axie Infinity is available to play now here.
7. Champions Ascension
Champions Ascension is a game due to launch soon that will have a streetfighter style aspect it whilst also having a high-fantasy universe to explore in the game.
The game studio developing it, Jam City, is one of the top ones out there having developed big titles like Jurassic Park, Harry Potter and Family Guy as well as making games for Disney. They are classed as what is known as a “AAA” game developer – the top tier of game design and there have been over 1.3bn installs of their games in total.
Champions Ascension is set in the world of Massina, a fantasy arena in which you engage in gladiatorial clashes to try and move up the rankings. The idea is that if you win these clashes you can ascend to a higher tier and access additional features. Ultimately if you ascend high enough you may be able to become an eternal, stealing the power of life and death from the gods.
The game will be play-to-earn, with NFTs and an in-game currency although there are no details yet on the mechanics. The first NFTs to drop will be 10,000 “Prime Eternals” which will all be unique and have special powers during battle. These are likely to be highly sought-after and we can see them going for significant amounts of money.
The graphics for Champions Ascension look really impressive and with such a stellar team behind the project we are expecting the game to be a big hit in 2022 – and beyond.
Champions Ascension is due for release in early 2022.
Next up we have a football management game called Footium. If you have ever played games like Championship Manager, Football Manager and PES Club Manager over the years then the concept of Footium will probably sound familiar to you.
Essentially you take ownership of a football club (which is an NFT) with its own history, fanbase, stadium and academy. They are not real football clubs but have invented names like Bromber Town and Haddle FC. You have to manage the club by making deals in the transfer market, choosing the tactics, investing in the stadium, training young players in your academy and doing all the other things that go into running a club.
There will be daily matches against other clubs and promotion and relegation each season, which will take place over one month. There are rewards of Footium tokens, which are the in-game cryptocurrency you can win for finishing high up the leagues or winning a cup. You can also earn Footium tokens by selling players on the transfer market – the players are also NFTs.
Footium looks like a lot of fun and should appeal to fans of football management games. Having the ability to earn rewards for doing well in the game is very appealing and should make it ultra-competitive. As football fans ourselves this is one of the games we are looking forward to most.
Footium is in beta and is due to go on full release later this year. The initial club sale was sold out but clubs can be bought on the secondary market on Open Sea.
One of the most hotly-awaited play-to-earn games of the year is Illuvium. This will be an open-world role-playing adventure game built on Ethereum. The aim of the game is to capture special creatures called Illuvials, which have deity-like characteristics.
There are over 100 Illuvials in the game, which are broken down into five classes and five affinities, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. You have to battle against other players and if you win, your Illuvials become more powerful. You can also fuse and upgrade the Illuvials to create more powerful ones and progress in the game.
The graphics for Illuvium look stunning and it is no wonder it is one of the most eagerly-awaited P2E games, with a huge following of nearly 250,000 on Twitter and 19,000 on Telegram. The Illuvium token skyrocketed from around $60 all the way up to $1,900, before falling to around $780 at the time of writing. That still leaves it with a market cap of nearly $8bn though.
The play-to-earn aspect of the game will reward players with the ILV token for winning battles and successfully completing challenges and quests. The Illuvials themselves are NFTs but there will also be in-game items, creatures and upgrades available as NFTs within the game.
Illuvium is still in development but is due for release in 2022.
Role-playing games (RPGs) were hugely popular a few years ago with titles like World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy having millions of players at their peak. These games have lost a little of their lustre since then, but a game studio trying to revive the genre is Gala Games with their title Mirandus.
This is a game set in a medieval fantasy world where you character has to journey around and complete quests, battle monsters and try to earn a token called “Materium,” which is the in-game cryptocurrency.
The interesting thing about Mirandus is that the entire in-game economy – from baking bread and milking cows, to running shops and inns, forging weapons and so on will be owned by the players. So you can own these items as NFTs and sell your produce to other players who will need them whilst on their journey through the game. There is also land, buildings and ships which you can own as NFTs and charge rent on. You can also purchase certain avatars – or “exemplars” – such as elves, dwarves, orcs and haflings that will have certain advantages within the game.
The fantasy world Gala are creating for Mirandus looks amazing and there is a great deal of anticipation for the game’s release, with large numbers registering for the early beta tests. This one looks like it could be huge when the final version is released.
Mirandus from Gala Games is in beta testing and is due to be released later in 2022.
3. Big Time
Another RPG game that is hotly-awaited is a time-travelling epic called Big Time. In it you will be able to join with friends to adventure across time and space. You will journey across different time periods and civilizations and battle monsters, power-up your character and complete challenges.
The idea is that each player will have their own time machine, which is a “personal metaverse” – or a portal to your own pocket universe. In your time machine you can hang out with friends or show off your NFTs and collectibles.
You can also expand your time machine by obtaining a SPACE NFT, which they have just completed the first sale of, with 60,000 being sold out of a total supply of 600,000. Within your SPACE, you will be able to store time-keepers and forges, which can earn tokens for you. The larger the space the more items you will be able to store within it.
Big Time is another game that looks very impressive and has a strong AAA team behind it, with people who have previously worked at EA, Blizzard and Epic games leading the development. There is a huge buzz behind it with big followings on social media and the initial sale of the NFTs selling out is a sign of the interest in the project.
An early-release version of Big Time for VIP ticket holders is due in Q1 2022, with it gradually released to more users throughout the year.
2. Town Star
If you have ever played farming games like Farmville and Sims then you will have a good idea what Town Star is all about. Basically you run a town and have to farm crops and livestock and produce goods to sell on the market, which you can then to use upgrade your town and produce more goods.
The game is produced by Gala Games, who are one of the leading blockchain game developers and also the team behind another title on this list, Mirandus. Whilst that game is still in development though, Town Star is available to play and earn from now.
In order to be able to earn, you need to own NFTs, which are the in-game items like shops, storage, water fountains, solar panels and the like. Then if you complete a daily challenge, you will earn a fixed number of Town Coin depending on which NFTs you have. You also need to have “Gala Power” in your wallet, which basically means owning enough Gala Tokens or Town Coin.
Town Star is a fun game to play and can be quite addictive, as anyone who has played games like Farmville can testify. The daily challenges at the moment are quite easy but are likely to get harder and the game dynamics are likely to get more interactive according to the Gala Games team.
Town Star from Gala Games is available to play now here.
Regular followers of ours will not be surprised at our number one choice and that is the fantasy football blockchain game Sorare.
Founded in 2019 by a pair of French entrepreneurs, Sorare has gone from strength to strength, raising $50m in venture capital in February 2021 before going on to raise $680m just a few months later. Their sales of cards have topped $350m and user growth has accelerated, with over 1 million registered users and close to 100,000 paying users.
Sorare is a cross between a traditional card-collecting platform like Panini and Topps where you can collect digital cards of your favourite footballers around the world and a fantasy football game, which you can enter those cards in to win prizes. We joined Sorare last year and have been tracking our journey here, with over $20,000 in prizes won so far.
The game is very engaging and gets you following teams and leagues from around the world that you didn’t previously follow, eager to see how your players are performing on the pitch. There is also the option of scouting players to try and find the next hot prospect in the hope of being able to flip cards for profit. In addition there is also a hugely active community around Sorare, with lots of content creators churning out videos and blogs all the time.
Sorare are due to branch out into other sports in 2022, with US sports being highest on the list of priorities. With so much firepower at their disposal it’s very exciting to see where Sorare goes next. We have found their football game to be the most fun, engaging and rewarding game we have played in a long time so for that reason it comes top of our list of the top play-to-earn games right now.
Sorare is available to play now and you can get 10 free cards to get you started here.