Gaming is no longer a passive hobby, especially for blockchain and NFT enthusiasts. Accenture estimates the global gaming industry to be a multi-billion sector, with a market cap of over $300 billion, exceeding the combined markets for music and movies. This growth is fueled by an influx of new players who seek experiences beyond pure fun in a game, such as intuitive social interactions and income-generating opportunities.

The chance to monetize while having fun in Web3 games is one of the biggest factors driving both casual and hardcore gamers into this space. Popularly known as Play-to-Earn (P2E), these incentive-driven games reward players with NFTs and other types of rewards that can be converted into real-world value. Even better, users get to truly own the Web3 content they unlock while playing, and can choose to trade it on open marketplaces.

However, although one out of three avid gamers is willing to quit their full-time jobs and focus solely on play-to-earn gaming, they still feel that existing P2E games are not readily accessible to all.

Pay before you can play? Think twice when starting in P2E

In the current P2E gaming landscape, players often need to incur a minimum entrance cost typically in the form of purchasing the game’s NFTs. Regardless of whether they are joining as full-time or part-time gamers, or casually trying out a game for fun, the entry requirements remain too high in the eyes of most players. The average player wants to play and earn on the go, similar to typical mobile games where they can download for free and immediately start playing.

P2E games with high entry costs are not a new phenomenon. Axie Infinity, one of the early pioneers in the P2E ecosystem with 2.8 million players, requires around $1,065 to get started. The barriers to entry are so high that the developers came up with a system that allows “Managers” to lend out their NFT Axies to “Scholars”, who are new entrants that cannot afford to buy pricey Axies. Even if you manage to hire an Axie, you will still remit up to 60 percent of your earnings to the manager.

“The core value proposition of play-to-earn games is the real potential of earning attractive rewards. However, the initial cost needed to start playing in many P2E games is exorbitantly high for interested gamers. This can far exceed what is reasonably affordable for many players in developing countries,” says Meta Mike, Co-Founder of MetaDerby.

For the “play-to-earn” title to avoid becoming a misnomer, steps must be taken to reduce high entry costs, or even better, have no capital requirements at all.

Extending the free-to-play model for the P2E ecosystem

The traditional gaming industry has garnered a huge fan base for good reasons. Users only need to download the game, install it on their mobile device, and play it on the go. The only instance where users might need upfront costs is when they want to unlock premium features from the start. But still, gamers can access premium content by unlocking achievements and ranking up along the way.

The same can be applied to play-to-earn games by introducing the existing free-to-play model. As simple as this sounds, the growing P2E ecosystem is still finding ways to quickly innovate and incorporate proven game mechanics that work for the masses.

“With zero upfront costs, P2E games can naturally draw in more players and quickly amass millions of new gamers into the ecosystem. It’s a win-win for both players and the overall ecosystem, as proven among hundreds of traditional free-to-play games,” says Meta Mike.

Fortunately, developers and games are pushing to adopt the free-to-play model in the Web3 gaming sphere. MetaDerby for instance is already in action with its first free-to-play horse racing game in the metaverse, where there are no minimum entry requirements or upfront NFTs to buy. To truly get started for free, players complete a beginner task to obtain their free NFT horse, then compete in online races and eventually earn rewards.

Gaming and Web3 are at the crossroads of innovation

The Web3 gaming industry’s future has never been clearer on the horizon. Free-to-play models are introducing strong potential to onboard the next millions of users into Web3 games. The ecosystem still has a lot more to prove. However, the industry’s ability to innovate at astonishing speeds points to a future that can perhaps encompass everything a gamer can wish for: free, rewarding, and last but not least, genuinely fun to play.

The Human & Machine podcast is dedicated to inform and demystify the crypto, DeFi, GameFi, NFTs, and blockchain industries for the average person.

Tlahui is a man in love with words and blockchain. His storytelling and passion to communicate led him to co-host The Human & Machine, a podcast and YouTube channel. Where he rightfully plays the role of an average-minded Human trying to understand and explain in layman terms, the lingo and complexities thrown at him by The Machine, his heartless, yet brilliant co-host.

Hikaru is a blockchain lover with a weakness for cooking. His outstanding understanding and experience in blockchain technologies, plus his unhuman work ethic have earned him the nickname of The Machine. In the show, he plays the role of a hybrid all-knowing robot that goes out of his way to explain blockchain concepts to The Human while trying not to lose faith in humanity.

Kenny Au, aka The Brain, is a #Web3.0 #FutureofWork #DistributedOrganizations Outerspace OG. His brain functions in spacetime. Plus his innate visions and strategies in Web 3.0 have developed him the nickname of The Brain.

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