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Play-to-Earn Gaming is Booming: From Axies to Lightnite, Here’s What’s Out There

Alex Lielacher
Last updated: | 6 min read
Source: Adobe/morkdam

If you could spend your day playing your favorite game and get paid for it, would you? The emerging play-to-earn gaming universe lets you do just that!

Read on to learn about the emerging crypto-powered, play-to-earn gaming market that allows individuals to live off their gaming skills. 

The rise of crypto play-to-earn (P2E) gaming

In the past, the gaming world provided a source of entertainment for gamers looking to beat the high score, win against their friends, or show their prowess in international gaming tournaments. 

Now, gamers can also be rewarded financially for winning at their favorite games, even if they are not professional eSports players. Blockchain-based, play-to-earn online games enable players to earn crypto as rewards or for selling in-game items on an open marketplace from the comfort of their homes. 

The rise of crypto games has been seen all around the world, and many have testified to its viability as an alternative source of income. For instance, in the Philippines, a crypto gamer called John Aaron Ramos claims that he bought two houses solely from earnings generated from playing Axie Infinity. 

Watch more: NFT Gaming in the Philippines

Play-to-earn provides opportunities for both game developers and gamers as both can benefit from a symbiotic relationship where companies create a platform for players to build, trade on, and improve the games, while the gamers earn from their contributions and participation. 

So let’s take a closer look at how play-to-earn games reward gamers. 

How to play & earn in the cryptoverse

Accessing play-to-earn games is relatively easy, with most blockchain games being made available on Windows, Android, and iOS. All you need is a crypto wallet that you can connect to the game, which will be dependant on the blockchain the game runs on. 

Generally, there are two main approaches that P2E games take to allow gamers to earn.

  • Earning in-game financial rewards
  • Trading non-fungible tokens (NFTs)

Let’s explore each of these.

Earn in-game rewards

Crypto games that take up the in-game rewards approach give players the chance to earn for activities they take part in while playing the game. This means that the more you play, the more cryptocurrency you can earn. 

An example of an in-game rewards game is Lightnite. On Lightnite, a multiplayer shooter, you earn bitcoin (btc) for shooting opponents in Deathmatches. After you finish the game, you can transfer your earned BTC to your Lightning Network-enabled wallet.

Trading NFTs

Another way in which you can play-to-earn in crypto games is through the buying, selling, and trading of NFTs. 

For many gamers, this is familiar ground since, in most old-school games, you were required to buy items that your avatar could use. These items included weapons, powers, potions, and more. Blockchain games are making the use of such items, only that you can earn from owning and trading in them, even off the gaming platform. 

Games such as Axie Infinity (AXS) and Decentraland (MANA) are making use of the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain to facilitate the trade of NFTs. Whether you are trading Axies or LAND, you can earn by selling these NFTs to willing buyers in the secondary market. 

While these two play-to-earn approaches are being applied in many games, there are some games that have stood out and gained the trust of crypto-loving gamers. Some of them are featured below.

5 play-to-earn games to try

Let’s dive into five popular play-to-earn crypto games. 

Axie Infinity

Axie infinity players buy, breed, and pit monsters, called Axies, against each other to win crypto.

The game is said to be inspired by the Pokemon universe since each player treats their Axies as pets. In Axie infinity, you can collect Axies, raise them, and even build a kingdom for them to live in. 

The game’s play-to-earn model involves earning tokens through gameplay and contributions to the Axie universe. Ways in which players can contribute is through player vs player battles to rank in the leaderboard or by farming love potions that are needed to breed Axies. These love potions can be sold on exchanges like Uniswap and Binance

Since each Axie is a unique asset, one of the main ways people earn through the crypto game is by trading Axies as NFTs. At the moment, the most expensive Axie is ‘Angel’, a triple mystic Axie sold for ETH 300 (USD 1.1m) in 2020. 


Decentraland is one of the fastest-growing virtual worlds built on the Ethereum blockchain. Numerous times, it has been referred to as an early version of the metaverse. As a play-to-earn game, Decentraland provides unique opportunities for games to earn crypto.

The main way in which players earn in Decentraland is through the purchase and trading of virtual space, aptly referred to as ‘LAND’. Each LAND parcel is 16 meters by 16 meters in size and represented by an NFT (ERC-721 token), with the total number of LAND being capped at 90,000. To buy LAND, players use MANA – the official cryptoasset of Decentraland, which can be bought and traded on crypto exchanges such as,, Coinbase, Kraken, OKex, and others.

Over time, more play-to-earn opportunities have emerged in Decentraland. With more players, art galleries that sell NFTs have been set up on individual LAND, virtual concerts and games have been held, and billboards are being set up to market big brands within the growing metaverse. 

The Sandbox

Just like Decentraland, The Sandbox works on the premise of creating a metaverse for people to participate in and trade as they play the game. 

In the virtual world, there are 166,000 land parcels represented as NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain. On the land parcels, the landowners can build games, virtual museums, and other creative content, all of which they can earn from and trade using the SAND token.

Users in the Sandbox can create their own games using the user-friendly Sandbox Game Maker. This tool makes Sandbox stand out as it tries to change the gaming world dynamics by enabling players to own the products of their creative labor and earn from it.  

Star Atlas

At another end of the crypto gaming universe lies a universe of its own, Star Atlas. This play-to-earn game built on the Solana (SOL) blockchain is a virtual representation of solar systems, with space exploration (and domination) being central to the game’s economy. 

Star Atlas players earn through trading items such as spaceships, virtual land on various planets and galaxies, and by contributing to key skill sets such as mining, trading, and exploration. 

All these activities are facilitated by two cryptoassets native to the game: ATLAS, an inflatable currency that is intended for trading assets within the game, and POLIS, a currency with a fixed supply. 

The more you participate in the Star Atlas universe, the more money you can earn. 


Lightnite is a multiplayer online game where players can earn BTC by shooting their opponents and collecting their items as rewards. 

A player can stack sats as they traverse the game, and when they exit the game, they can redeem their bitcoin earnings through the Lightning Network. Additionally, players can earn, buy, and sell Lightnite skins, which are NFTs operating on the Liquid Network, providing another opportunity for gamers to monetize their time invested in the game. 

For many – especially in emerging markets – play-to-earn games could provide a valuable source of income, which is also why there is strong demand coming from these regions of the world. 

As play-to-earn games grow in popularity, it will be exciting to see what other blockchain games and opportunities will emerge. 


Learn more: 
Games Are Propelling Growth in the Dapps Sphere as DeFi, NFT Lose Pace
Blockchain Users Shift Focus Towards Dapp Gaming

Crypto-Gaming Is Exploding Into the Playful Future
What Is the Metaverse? A High-Tech Plan to Facebookify the World

Axie Infinity: Games Where People Earn And Transform Gaming
Decentraland Sees a Record USD 913,000 Virtual Land Sale