10 Best Play-to-Earn Crypto Games in 2023: Earn Real Money While Playing
Posted On April 5, 2023
Play-to-Earn crypto games turned the decades-old gaming industry’s business model on its head. Not only can you enjoy these crypto games, but you can now also make money while playing them. And they’re not all that different from traditional video games.
A large number of these crypto games have become extremely popular and have millions of daily blockchain transactions. For instance, top play-to-earn crypto games like Alien World and Splinterlands register around 13 million and 2 million daily transactions, respectively.
The Play-to-Earn NFT gaming market, once worth $776.9 million in 2021, is set to surpass $2.84 billion by 2028 with an astounding CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 20.4%.
Considering that these crypto games are in their infancy, the impact they have already made is quite impressive, to say the least.
That is why we have curated a list of the 10 best play-to-earn (P2E) crypto games based on multiple factors and metrics. So, whether you’re a video game fanatic, someone who wants to earn an additional income or just interested in exploring new technologies, we have something for everyone.
But before that, let’s dig a little deeper and find out what these play-to-earn games are and how they work.
Play-to-earn crypto games, based on blockchain technology, offer a new type of gaming experience where players can potentially earn real-world value through their in-game actions, like winning battles and completing missions and quests.
They are not limited to one genre or type. They can be card games, adventure games or open-world games, like Decentraland and Metaverse. More on them later.
How Do They Work?
Players in P2E crypto games typically get rewarded in the form of NFTs and game tokens, which are also often the native token of the blockchain it’s built on.
Typically, you’ll have ownership over your in-game assets, recorded on a blockchain. These assets can be sold or traded within the game in open marketplaces or on decentralized exchanges, allowing players to earn real-world money in the form of fiat currency for their efforts in the game.
1. Axie Infinity
Axie Infinity, an Ethereum-based NFT game developed by a Vietnamese company called Sky Mavis, was launched in 2018. It’s one of the most popular play-to-earn NFT games, with 2.8 million active players.
In terms of gameplay, you choose and buy Pokemon-like creatures called the “axies”, which means Axie Infinity is not free to play. After buying one or multiple axies, you then build a team and use them in either Arena mode battles or to fight enemies in adventure mode. So, you must pay first to play.
The more you win in PVP (Player Vs Player) mode, the higher your MMR (Matchmaking Rating) will be. Your MMP will determine the stakes and how much money you’ll make or lose.
When you win battles, you get paid in Ethereum-based SLP (Smooth Love Portion). AXS (Axie Infinity Shards) is another in-game token of Axie Infinity used for governance and staking.
Axie Infinity is one of the best, if not the best, play-to-earn crypto games, with a vibrant community and well-maintained economy. However, SLP token is known to be volatile. Plus, a recent hack, which is, by the way, the biggest hack in crypto history yet, has caused a lot of fear and uncertainty among its players.
2. Gala Games
Gala games is a blockchain gaming platform that offers multiple games you can play to earn crypto.
Although it has 15 games under its umbrella, at the moment, only 4 are available to play. Spider Tanks, Town Star, Superior, and Legends Reborn are the games available on the platform right now. The in-game tasks, missions and quests allow players to win GALA tokens and NFTs.
What sets Gala games apart from its competitors is its focus on user experience and gameplay. While games by other developers focus more on the earning and monetization models, Gala games make it a point to ensure its games are fun and engaging for casual as well as serious gamers.
All its games share a single gaming token called GALA. Players can use GALA tokens to buy and trade NFTs or in-game assets in their in-house NFT store. 1 GALA is worth around 6 cents at the time of writing this article.
3. Plant Vs Undead
Plant Vs Undead is a multi-layer NFT game that runs on Binance Smart Chain and is available on Android, iOS and Windows.
The gameplay revolves around growing plants and fending off attacking monsters. You start with one Mother tree and five plants. The goal is to earn light energy (LE), the in-game currency, which you can do by harvesting seeds and performing daily quests.
You can later trade your LE tokens for PVU tokens, which are the in-game and governance tokens of the Plant Vs Undead. The PVU token has depreciated over the last year, which might be temporary with the promising changes the developers bring this year with the introduction of new gaming modes. Currently, PVU tokens are trading for 1 cent.
Splinterland is a trading card game launched in 2018 by Jesse Reich and Matthew Rosen.
The game allows you to buy, trade, or collect cards, known as splinters, and use them to compete against opponents. There are two kinds of cards – the summoner’s card and the monster’s card. A player with a summoner’s card summons the player with the corresponding monster’s card to battle. These cards are essentially NFTs available to buy and sell through third-party marketplaces.
There are two ways to earn with this game –
The first is to win battles and tournaments, which is quite time-consuming and pays relatively less. The second and more profitable way is to collect cards you can later sell as NFTs. Just like you would collect valuable baseball cards and sell them for more profit.
Splinterland is one of the most unique play-to-earn crypto games. However, there is a lack of a clear roadmap from the developers, which may turn away some players.
Illuvium is one for old-school RPG lovers. Created by Kieran and Aaron Warwick, Illuvium is a highly anticipated upcoming open-world intergalactic-themed RPG game.
The game is set on a ruined planet called Illuvium. After surviving a wrecked spaceship, the players find themselves in Illuvium, which has creatures called Illuvials with extraterrestrial powers. You must form a team of Illuvials to participate in PVP battles and other missions.
When you win these battles and complete missions, you earn fighting points that you can convert to ILV, Illuvium’s native token. However, it’s more profitable to stake your ILV, depending on the staking duration.
Though scaling might be a concern for the developers, Illuvium still promises a thrilling open-world gaming experience.
6. Gods Unchained
Gods Unchained is one of the best high-stakes play-to-earn games by Chris Clay, former director of Magic the gathering. It uses Immutable X, which lets decentralized applications trade peer-to-peer without fees.
It’s a trading card game where you compete with other players using a deck of cards, which you get for free upon sign-up, genesis cards and core cards. You can also buy card packs from the immutable X marketplace to skip the grind and get to the real meat of the game faster.
You can win rewards (in the form of GODS tokens or NFTs) by participating in real-stakes events where there is a chance of winning or losing the cards you already have.
GODS token is the native token used for in-game purchases and governance. Though it has fallen in value over the past year, the GODS token is still one of the most valuable in-game tokens among all the other play-to-earn crypto games. Currently, it’s trading at 33 cents.
Overall, it’s a great trading card game with the added incentive of earning real money.
7. Revv Racing
Racing games have always been popular, and Revv Racing is no different. Developed by Animoca Brands, it’s one of the many racing games the company has introduced in the metaverse space.
Revv racing is quite similar to other traditional racing video games. You can play on phones and gaming consoles in first-person or third-person perspectives. The two key aspects that set it apart are the NFT cars and races recorded in a blockchain.
Players can win money by winning racing tournaments. But the more lucrative way to earn from this game is to sell your cars, which are essentially NFTs. REVV is the token used as in-game currency in Revv Racing. However, since the game is in its alpha version, it doesn’t have its own marketplace yet.
Revv Racing cleverly combined people’s love for cars, racing games and NFTs to create a unique and thrilling experience for its players. And that is why it’s one of the best play-to-earn crypto games.
8. Battle of Guardians
Battle of Guardians is one of the best multiplayer play-to-earn crypto games. It’s developed in the Unreal engine and features one-on-one fighting, much like Mortal Kombat. The game features real-time fighting with dynamic scenes and graphics. However, the scope for developers to expand the game is limited.
Set in a multi-realm world, the game features three characters – guardians, humans, and demons, each with their own unique traits. You must battle as one of these characters to earn BGS (Battle of Guardians’ Share), the governance token and in-game currency.
Based on your skill level, you’ll be assigned one of the three tiers, with players in the highest tier earning the highest rewards. Battle of Guardians also allows NFT renting, meaning you can rent out your NFTs to earn passive income.
The game also has three modes – story mode, arena mode, and bout mode and you can also participate in battles for rewards. But like most of the play-to-earn crypto games on this list, it’s probably more lucrative to trade NFTs in the marketplace from an income standpoint.
9. My Neighbor Alice
My Neighbor Alice, developed by Antler Interactive, is an open-world game, like Minecraft, where players can interact with each other.
The game is set in six customizable virtual islands. You participate in farm-related activities like beekeeping and fishing, using the ALICE token to buy and sell your resources.
There are many ways to earn in My Neighbor Alice. You can trade land NFTs, avatar NFTs, and in-game assets. The profit you make is based on the kind of asset you’re selling and its rarity. So, basically, like flipping NFTs.
You can play this game if you like chill, laid-back gaming experiences, but it can get repetitive after a while.
10. Thetan Arena
Thetan Arena is a free-to-play game developed by a Vietnamese company called WolfFun. It’s the first MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) crypto game.
To play, you need to choose a hero and two skills. There are three types of heroes – assassin, marksman, and tank. The game features three playing modes – Battle Royale, Tower Siege, and Deathmatch and you can play them with your friends in a group of three.
The concept is simple – if you win, you earn gTHC, the game token.
Thetan Arena has one of the highest skill ceilings in Blockchain gaming compared to earning potential, which is quite low.
Are Decentraland and Sandbox Play-to-Earn Crypto Games?
While we have a few open-world play-to-earn crypto games in this list, Decentraland and Sandbox don’t really fall into the same category. They are better categorized as metaverse platforms.
Both platforms indeed have origins in gaming, especially Sandbox, which was launched as a mobile game in 2012, while Decentraland was more of a social metaverse game launched in 2017. But now, they have evolved into virtual worlds where you can buy virtual properties, host events, attend concerts, make friends, and so much more.
For instance, last year, Decentraland held a fashion week where brands like Forever 21 and Estée Lauder participated. A holiday event called Season’s Greetings, hosted by Sandbox had experiences such as Deadmau5: Tower of Light, The Walking Dead: Alexandria, and Snoop Dogg’s Foreplay.
So, to answer the question, no, Decentraland and Sandbox are not just play-to-earn games now.
Taxes on Play-to-Earn Crypto Games
Taxes on play-to-earn crypto games is pretty easy if you know the basics of crypto taxes in most countries.
In most countries, like the US, for instance, cryptocurrency, and by extension, NFTs, are viewed as property for tax purposes. Hence, profits made from selling, swapping or disposing of your crypto are subject to capital gains taxes.
However, if you complete tasks or sell your services to earn cryptocurrencies, you’re subjected to ordinary income taxes (in most countries). Hence, you’ll pay income taxes on income made in the form of crypto.
With that in mind, we can say that crypto or NFTs earned from winning battles and completing missions in crypto games are subject to income taxes. However, when you sell these cryptocurrencies again, you’ll be subject to capital gains taxes.
To get a detailed and nuanced look at the crypto tax laws of your country, click here. Otherwise, you can check out our in-depth guide on NFT taxes to get a better idea of calculating your gains and taxes.
Do Play-to-Earn Crypto Games Have a Future?
Over the past two years, crypto gaming has seen tremendous growth. With the play-to-earn option, the players have a clear incentive to participate and add to the ecosystem. Plus, as we mentioned, the play-to-earn crypto gaming industry is estimated to have an annual growth rate of over 20% for the next few years.
Though the recent crypto winter has significantly impacted the growth and value of the in-game crypto tokens, that is still not an accurate indicator of the promise of this new gaming model and technology.
Nonetheless, it’ll be interesting to see how things turn out and how the crypto-gaming industry evolves in the next few years.