Play-to-Earn Crypto Games: Promotion and Monetization Mechanics
We explain how play-to-earn crypto games and NFTs have become a tool to earn income for users and developers.
Play-to-earn crypto games
Turning game mechanics into a tool for making money is literally the new alchemy. This idea and the diligence of young creators is the basis, for example, of the Roblox platform. The popularization of cryptocurrencies and NFT-art in 2021 made making money this way possible because it solved several problems at once.
The usual mechanics of converting game currency into real currency were always a problem for developers. The games always risked becoming a breeding ground for speculative activity and were subject to special control by the supervisory authorities. In many countries around the world, cybercrime remains a grey area of the law.
Play-to-earn products are difficult to control and there is always a chance that the system will outplay its creators. Everyone understood that it was challenging to invest in such projects, especially due to the currency exchange rate differences. For this reason, before the advent of NFT, there were few proper gaming projects where you could make money. We can mention as an exception, perhaps, only Entropia Universe.
The case of artist Beeple and the sale of the token for a record $69 million made NFT the perfect way to digitize art. However, his latest collab with Madonna had a lesser effect and an NFT triptych earned about $630,000. This rapid change doesn’t suggest that interest in NFT-art is waning, so all speculation on this point is nothing more than guesswork.
Some companies fight so hard against processes involving real money that they even ban accounts for transferring characters. It raises the ethical question: are my characters even mine if I can’t do whatever I want to? NFT, on the contrary, normalizes the practice of exchanging in-game items and builds its own economics based on titles.
As a rule, even if the game has its own marketplace, all the real money remains in the in-game wallets of users. Probably the biggest example from the world of PC-gaming here is the CS marketplace: GO or DOTA 2. The proceeds from the sale of in-game items can be spent on new games or skins, but to withdraw back to the card is only possible with the help of third-party services that offer no guarantees.
The concept of cryptocurrencies and NFT offer new conditions for storing assets, so they were quickly supplemented with various gamification elements. The advent of full-fledged games with cryptocurrency or token earning mechanics was a matter of [small] time.
Why things have changed:
- The idea of cryptocurrency is similar to the idea of in-game currency. You could say that it’s a kind of abstraction, the value of which is supported by the number of gamers and the amount of currency they have in their inventory. The difference is that the uniqueness of NFT tokens сannot be compared to the rarity of some given knives in CS:GO. The developer can’t create the same token because it will devalue the original token of the blockchain.
- Smart contracts reduce the risk when transferring currency from one player to another. In addition, some games assign intellectual property rights to NFT tokens and their holders.
- Developers can use cryptocurrency or tokens with not very high value as rewards — it can even be their own development, but in this way they promote the idea of making money for users.
- The format of NFT items is tied to the idea of collections, so players often buy items in bulk. This concept also affects the marketing of play-to-earn projects.
- The NFT idea was quickly picked up by major brands and media personalities, which increased audience loyalty to the entire industry. From Warner Bros. to Bill Murray.
Like any business, crypto games have their own drawback — a high entry threshold for users. To start playing, you often need to purchase an NFT item. The cost of a starter item is usually in the ~$10 range. It’s a small amount, but the very fact of the transaction is like a left hook for new play-to-earn game users.
For example, the popular Sandbox platform (rivals include Minecraft and Roblox) requires the purchase of an avatar as an NFT token to access user worlds. The token in this system is equal to a subscription fee.
The mechanics of buying in-game items is often associated with the pay-to-win concept. In pay-to-win games, the player with paid items has an undeniable advantage over others. The players who achieve results on their own are always hostile to this approach, because it levels out the difference in skills.
Games with pay-to-win mechanics rarely last long, so next we’ll take a look at play-to-earn projects that don’t require initial purchase of items that disturb the balance of your bank account.
Play-to-earn gaming market
It’s most profitable to invest in gaming NFT items at the project launch. The later the user enters the game, the more expensive the in-game items are traded. The early start is also useful because it gives you the opportunity to influence the fate of the game.
Play-to-earn project developers tend to work hand in hand with the gaming community, because every player means support for their product. In this sense, NFT play-to-earn projects have the features of network marketing, so supporting current investors is one of the most important tasks for the business.
Usually, the most common cryptocurrency wallets, such as Trust Wallet or WAX, can be used for NFT token transactions. The main condition is that the wallet must support the blockchain on which the NFT token was created.
The cryptocurrency market is volatile, so choose projects to earn money considering trends and news agenda. A tweet from Elon Musk was enough to make Dogecoin go up 10%.
The problem is that the rollback was not long in coming, because soon Musk began to worry about the environment, with which crypto mining is closely linked.
It’s hard to know which cryptocurrency will be the most profitable, because the recent collapse of Luna forced many market players to reconsider their attitude to crypto-investments.
In this light, play-to-earn games with no initial investment are an island of sustainability, because end users do not risk their existing capital and can only lose what they have already earned within the game.
The metaverse trend
One of the key trends in modern game development is metaverses. We can argue for a long time about which game app was the first, but the importance of Minecraft is useless to deny. The real significance of games in modern culture was discovered during the pandemic, when people began to use Minecraft as a meeting space even in educational institutions.
The concept of multi user worlds successfully overlaps with the exchange of NFT items. On top of that, metaverses have more opportunities to customize the game space by means of unique items. NFT can be the own music in the user’s world, a plot of land, and the character’s appearance. It’s also convenient to embed your own marketplaces in metaverses. For developers, it’s an important point of growth and interaction with the audience.
Igor Płusa, CMO of Game Lounge commented on the market situation:
Ever since Mark Zuckerberg announced Meta the market size has been growing exponentially. I am positive that we will see incredible growth of this segment of the market in the coming years but right now I think we can expect some slowing down. Different metaverses are popping around every now and then and the market is full of projects that in my opinion will not survive the next two years. So we can expect a small shake-off to get rid of some of the “hype projects” that claim to be metaverses but in reality are just a variant of an MMO game. After that when the market consolidates we will be able to see the real growth of the market.
Many companies are trying to upgrade their popular titles to metaverses by sparingly using NFT. For example, offer users to use their skins to create NPCs. For developers it looks like one of the elements of pre-order support, but the core community doesn’t yet support such innovations.
Best play-to-earn crypto games
There are two ways to use NFT in crypto games. Some items are offered by the developers as rewards for achievements or investment in the project. The other type are the “craft” NFTs, which users create from ordinary items, making them unique.
In the first group, you can estimate the earning rate by tracking the dynamics of attracting new users. For this, you can use analytical services to track the dynamics of keywords for the selected games.
Next, we’ll review a few gaming apps that allow you to earn cryptocurrency or get NFT tokens during gameplay. It’s not the top, but we tried to collect projects that have a balance of interesting gameplay mechanics and easy earnings.
Spells of Genesis
Spells of Genesis is considered the first mobile game in this genre. It’s a collectible card game that combines blockchain and in-game cards that are stored in different databases. It’s curious that trading regular (in-game) cards is prohibited, although there are several internal currencies to buy them.
You can blockchainize any fully leveled-up card. After that it disappears from the regular database, moves into your crypto-wallet and becomes available for exchange or sale.
The fact that it’s compatible with several blockchains can explain the popularity of the project. The game currently supports Ethereum, Counterparty (based on the Bitcoin blockchain) and Klaytn.
The game is similar to Hearthstone in many ways, but lacks one of the main drawbacks of the Blizzard project — an unstable meta.
Many collectible card games often suffer from poor rebalancing, where the entire deck turns into a pumpkin after an upgrade. Blockchain almost completely solves this problem because developers can’t rebalance cards released this way. They have to influence the environment, but this is too delicate a matter for global experiments.
My DeFi Pet
My DeFi Pet is a lot like Pokemon Go, but with a focus on caring for virtual pets. The game has several modes: exploration, PVE and PVP activities.
The developers focus on the development of the gaming community, so they give additional rewards to DPET-token holders, who actively participate in the discussion of development plans.
All DPET tokens are also available and traded on Binance Smart Chain and KardiaChain plus compatibility with KardiaChain.
Despite the fact that the project already has more than a million users, the developers are striving to listen to everyone and help with information on how things work in general in the world of crypto games.
On the one hand, CryptoPop can not be considered a full-fledged game, because the way of obtaining currency is mainly to watch videos. On the other hand, the app also has game mechanics that are similar to the popular game Candy Crush. Here you also need to combine the pieces in a row to advance through the levels.
CryptoPop developers act as a kind of customer and share a rate of the total earnings from watching video ads with users.
The feature of the game is that the earnings on Ethereum and Popcoin are quite fast. In order to use your winnings, you need to have an account with Coinbase.
Since these mechanics fit into shorter game sessions, the app can be used in any setting. Minimum complexity, maximum revenue.
How to promote play-to-earn games
Mobile play-to-earn games are not as popular as desktop games, but this segment is gradually picking up momentum. This is largely due to the greater availability of mobile devices and shorter gaming sessions.
What can you do to promote crypto games?
- The Text ASO
The promotion of crypto games differs from the promotion of other games on the App Store and Google Play, first of all, by the semantic core. It’s worth paying attention to keywords related to blockchain, wallets, platforms, etc.
To collect relevant keywords, you need to understand a number of terms and technologies. The Checkaso Keywords Ideas section can help you collect useful queries and find semantic gaps to attract new users.
As with the promotion of regular mobile games, you should always monitor what your competitors are doing and how well they rank for certain positions. The Keywords Intersection section helps to show relevant competitors and shows the rate of overlapping keywords.
In this section, you can understand what direction the project should take and what competitors you will face at each stage.
- The graphic ASO
You should pay special attention to the graphic ASO. The NFT market is full of scammers who create one-day projects out of ready-made assets, and then quickly vanish. For this reason, the original graphic style of the icons and screenshots enhances user loyalty.
A good thing for graphic ASO would be to create a video preview of the gameplay mechanics. Cryptocurrency and NFT is a largely unexplored topic for the general public. The video preview can help explain why a mobile game can be not only entertaining, but also profitable.
The video format is convenient to show users how the cryptocurrency gets into the account and how it can be easily withdrawn. You can explain how to turn the collectibles into NFTs, as this is a key mechanics for many projects.
Play-to-earn projects will appear more and more because this market operates on different grounds than direct sales of NFT tokens. There are more projects for PCs, because their development is cheaper. The problem is that the community has a negative reaction to NFT gamification in AAA projects, so play-to-earn games continue to look for their place in the industry.
As we have already mentioned, the best entry point for earning cryptocurrencies or getting NFT tokens is the launch of a project. Because mobile play-to-earn games are just about to go mainstream, developers and players who want to make more money should pay attention to it.
The promotion mechanics of such projects in the mobile industry are almost the same, but the accents are shifted towards a more original visual style and a specific set of keywords related to wallets and cryptocurrencies. The user expects every element of the play-to-earn project to be digital art, as he estimates how difficult it will be to sell any item.
What is changing is the general marketing of projects, which is based on community support and popular blockchain systems. For the rest, the same ASO guidelines apply to pay-to-earn games as to regular mobile games that can be downloaded on iPhone or Android.
Leverage the Checkaso platform to track keyword dynamics and respond to market challenges.