Earn by playing: what is the promise of “play to earn” value?

A puppy at 150 euros, pretty cheap, right? The French dogami is the one selling it. The problem is that the fangs are in 3D. This is an access key to a video game planned for this summer and sold as “The Tamagotchi of the Third Millennium”. Visually, such a sale is a ruin. For this price, we can get three “AAA” games on PS5, and worst of all, if we’re really dog ​​lovers, why not bring out our Nintendo? This game suggests raising a puppy on the Nintendo DS. The hit! It’s the 13thand The best-selling title in the history of the Japanese publishing house.

Except that Dogami promises you to earn money by playing. A gambling game? We call it more accurately “play for money” (P2E), which literally means “play to win”. There is no Coubertin spirit here. In the pedigree of video game economic models, this game for money replaces its illustrious predecessor, the “free” game. You already know it: Candy Crush, Clash of Clans, and all those mobile games, are certainly free, but its interaction mechanics do everything to lead you to microtransactions. To the extent that some publishers have overtaken Rubicon by adopting a “pay to win” outright, like the famous FarmVille, where players have to go to the cashier for a chance to complete the game. This abuse has increased by more than one. From now on it offers the story of people selling toys for money, this new El Dorado where we will reverse the steam to reward players.

Success in becoming a real game

So how does it work, and can you ditch everything to get a dog on your PC? In Dogami, each cryptocurrency is an NFT, a unique token registered in a blockchain. So you can give it away. The more quality varieties you provide, the more valuable it becomes, and in our opinion, the more money you make. The local currency is the doga. This cryptocurrency allows you to buy food and accessories to take care of the dog. You can also convert your winnings to very real euros – through an intermediate conversion to bitcoin or ether.

In these games, the characters one invests in become financial assets. Therefore, they require a certain time investment to prevent them from depreciating. The startup has sold 8,000 NFTs for dogs to an audience aged 12 to 72. A third of them are female, half have dogs and a similar percentage are testing this type of game for the first time. Doga has a market capitalization of more than 195 million euros. In December, Dogami raised 6 million euros from global metaverse champions Animoca Brands (The Sandbox, Decentraland) and Ubisoft. We’ll have to wait until this summer to see if Dogami offers good returns for its investors and virtual dog owners. Challenges ? Succeed in being a real game without getting caught up in the game’s only financial dimension to making money.

“Ponzi scheme”

Because to this day, many of these games are not fun at all. “If you play any game for money, it’s a cruel game, Daniel Nathan, CEO of studio Homa Games, points out. I don’t know anyone who had fun on Axie Infinity. » However, it is the best known. With chubby and colorful monsters, it looks like a Pokémon. But behind the scenes, its mechanism is very questionable…

“Existing players are paid by newcomers. The more cards bought, the more money it generates, but once the former has made their initial bet profitable, they make room for the latter. To do that, you always need new players, this is like a Ponzi scheme [montage financier frauduleux, NDLR] ! “, points out Gabriel Mamou-Mani, creator of the NFT Panda Dynasty and a member of the WeAreWeb3 collective, working for a more ethical metaverse. “Unless there is exponential growth, it is not sustainable because, to pay one player, the money has to come from somewhere and on the other hand, the other player loses it.” a lot of a good connoisseur.

Offshoring 3.0

The game has undergone a strong development during the pandemic in the Philippines, where many unemployed and restricted workers come to Axie to find an interesting source of income. As France 24 reported in February: “Lumabi plays for two hours a day in the small house he shares with his parents and four sisters. He earns 8,000 to 10,000 pesos a month, or $155 to 195. Enough to pay her college tuition and bills. » The problem for players hoping for extra income is that the in-game currency, aptly named “Smooth Love Potion”, has lost 95% of its value in a year! Ask the question what to play to earn a serious source of income.

At the same time, on the other side of the world, crypto investors who are attracted to Axie Infinity’s earnings – but don’t want to spend all day on it – are indirectly enticing these Filipinos to play for them. Such investments go through intermediaries, such as Blackpool Finance. Some see in the “passive earners of the metaverse” a new profession… marked with the 3.0 seal.

Should all these games be put in the same basket? The Dogami founder denies that. “We are forcing players to have a maximum of two dogs per account,” Bilal El Alamy said. In theory, what to avoid creating underpaid metaverse player or worker farms. In theory, since there’s nothing stopping an individual from creating multiple accounts.

Play and earn

Romain Potier, Web3 project manager at Homa Games, a young French game publisher that is ramping up play for money, believes we’re arguing wrong. “These games and Web3 in general, most of which promise to own digital assets, are not so much for making money online. I think this mechanic should be added to existing games or licenses, and fun to play. »

Bilal El Alamy, who launched his metaverse just a year ago, summed it up like this: “I think playing for money will turn into ‘playing for money’, or in other words making money will not be the end but an advantage for those who play a lot or play well. » To reach more players – too limited for the crypto spheres – he even wanted to “towards free access to the game”. What if we did everything, “free and monetized”?

What if these terms, instead of describing the deep evolution of mobile and online gaming, were in essence digital marketing? In any case, this is the opinion of Gabriel Mamou-Mani. In his view, the reward mechanics of these NFT-based games are new tools for gambling and cashback, two well-known marketing tools. In this sense, these P2E games can be very useful for brands; so interested in not signing them? As for the games that are successful in this field because they are directly rooted in gambling, like the horse races of Zed Run or the French star Sorare, none other than sports betting using Use soccer cards collected in the NFT. As of now, we have yet to see a real video game that combines narrative and pay, a real scenario and crypto.

But we may be forgetting a dimension. For Romain Potier, from Homa Games, “buying NFT and participating in the economy of these games also means believing in an actor and supporting him, just like crowdfunding”. However, to reach the largest number, these new games will have to involve mobile app stores (App Store, Google Play…) and their 30% tax… An equation financially impossible, say most skeptics. But who said that playing to make money publishers are not players?

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