June 12, 2024

I grew up playing games like Risk, Monopoly, a little Chess… and still remember buying my first computer somewhere around 1986 solely to play a computer game on. It was an Apple IIc, and that first game was some type of Pirate Adventure. I wish I remembered the name. It wasn’t all that good, but still, I was hooked! Since that first adventure, I’ve spent thousands of hours as well as dollars playing just about every type of digital game that has followed! PC games, Atari, Wii, mobile games… you name it, I play it! I’d always generalize the cost (to myself at least) thinking “some guys play golf 3 days a week at $100 a round… I play computer games”. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it! However, the story has changed…

“Pay to Play” has become “Play to Earn”!

If you would be to search terms like “crypto games”, “blockchain games”, “make money playing video games”, and others, you’d find some really incredible statements. Today, quotes like the ones below are becoming more and more common!

“I made $400 last week playing a computer game”

“I just sold my RPG character for $200 profit”

“I was offered $1k for a skin for my laser rifle of doom”

(I made up the “laser rifle of doom” part)

“I bred my pet thingamajig yesterday and sold the baby!” (it’s digital, for those of you wincing)

In 2021, thanks to the blockchain, there’s a growing community of gamers who are making real dollars daily, mining, fighting, shooting, jumping… all while playing the same type of mobile and PC games that you had to PAY to play just a short while ago…

…but let’s start at the beginning.

You paid $172,000 for a what!?

Yes… all the way back in 2018 a CryptoKitty named “Dragon” was sold for an incredible $172,000. (300 ETH) Don’t be too surprised, it’s justified! It’s an adorable digital image, or “NFT” of a cat, after all.

It’s a lot of money, but for NFTs and blockchain gaming, flipping a Kitty today may as well be considered the stone ages. It’s still a record, but while you can still get started collecting these digital felines for as low as a couple of dollars, big-dollar trades still happen daily.

On the flip side of mortgaging your home to buy a digital picture of a CryptoKitty, Bored Ape, or CryptoPunk, you may feel better if you begin your adventure into making crypto (it’s real money, dear!) by playing a video game where you can “make money” instead of spending it.

I’m not saying owning a CryptoKitty or any of a plethora of “Avatar NFTs” we see popping up on various exchanges isn’t one way to do it… I’m saying to me at least, as a life-long gamer I’d much prefer playing a mobile, console, or PC game to collecting pictures in a digital wallet.

So what the heck is an NFT?

I could go into a long explanation… but since this article is about gaming and not cryptocurrency, I’ll tell you an NFT is a “non-fungible token”, and leave you google it if you really want to dig in deep. I do want to share more, so I’ll ‘splain it as simple as I can for you Lucy!

A CryptoKitty, as stated above, is a type of image called an NFT. (the collection is called “CryptoKitties) It’s a digital picture of a cartoon cat. There are thousands of different ones that have different shapes, colors, expressions and traits. (kind of like a real cat, but eats less)

The difference, is only one of each design is actually a legitimate “CryptoKitty”. (or a legitimate whatever type of image it happens to be) To be clearer… each NFT is a “one of a kind”, so if you’re thinking “but can’t I just make a copy?”, nope you can’t. I mean… you “can” make a copy of it if you really dig the design and want it on your desktop, but it would only be a copy of that particular NFT, not the real McCoy! Ok… so what makes one real, and the rest fakes? The blockchain.

Now, I’m going to be true to my word and keep my promise of not making this an article about crypto or the blockchain, so just know this: the difference between an image that is an actual NFT, and a copy of one, is there is an underlying digital code that designates the real thing.

So real in fact, that artists are creating or importing their paintings and creations to the web as NFTs, numbering them as they would a lithograph, and selling their entire collections. So if you are an art fan, check with your favorite creators… you may be surprised to find all of their “works of art” on an online marketplace!

NFTs are viewed on certain marketplace websites and digital wallets where the copies cannot be displayed, so that is how we know one is real, and the others are not! Having said that, sure,

there’s more to it, but just know that there’s a 100% secure way of knowing an image is a real NFT.

In addition, there can be more than one NFT with the same identical image. However, each has a unique underlying code, so even if they look exactly the same, they are not! Look at it like the playing cards or comic books of old… there may be 1,000 created (or “minted” as it’s called in NFT land) but they will each be numbered 1 to 1,000.

And guess which is more valuable…..? I knew you’d get it!

And these NFT’s make money how?

You’re getting warmer! There are a lot of different types of games coming out these days where you can make money playing. There are RPG’s, MOBA’s, Shooters, games in first person and in third, dungeon crawls… you name it!

If you’re thinking “how did I not know this!”, I was the same until recently! I have been gaming almost daily since I stepped into Ultima Online back in 1997, and I can’t even begin to tally how many hours and/or dollars I’ve invested into gaming.

Now, our hobby pays!

After 30-something years, my wife still thinks I’m bonkers… but I got a totally different look from her a few days ago when I told her I sold my game character for well over $200. Legit. I sold two more yesterday, and another this afternoon.

Some of these only cost me $10 or $15, some much more. Some are free. I sold another NFT character last week for $1,950, and it was sold on the game’s website, not on the black market.

So not only can an NFT be a picture of an Ape, Vegetable, Duck, or Stripper on a pole (we’ll leave it at that) but it can be a character in a game, a weapon, a mount, armor, or more.

One game is giving away free pet turtles with each character. For the uneducated on “pets” in computer games, it’s not the kind you keep in a bowl in your bedroom. It’s a companion that fights with you in an online game and may shoot fire from its eyes, heal you, or similar. Soon after being handed out for free, they’re now selling for around $60 each.

So an NFT can be an image, a video, music, a meme… or even a shirt or shoes! But we’ll leave the NFT clothing explanation to another article. 😉

Remember that rare skin you paid out the nose for a year ago in Apex? Or the L33T character you built up in Fortnite or Warcraft? If you’re no longer playing that game, it’s money under the bridge. And you don’t own the bridge!

In this new breed of blockchain games, you could have LEGALLY sold that character, skin, weapon, land, house, mount, or whatever it was when you tired of the game. For a profit. Maybe for a LARGE profit.

Yes, in the past we were able to find ways to get around the system and dump our pixels from time to time. We’d sell the account on the black market, or cut a deal with someone like a drug dealer on a Chicago Street corner. Then we’d over who went first… “You give me the account and weapon first!” “No you give me the money first”. Sometimes the deals even went through. Others well… let’s just say half of the parties walked away happy.

I made good money when after 4 years of daily playing I sold my Ultima Online account for somewhere around $2,000, but I needed to find a trustworthy “go-between” to broker the deal. Even then, I was sweating it!

With today’s crypto games, not only do the games provide the platform to buy, sell, or trade your character and items, but it’s encouraged, and done with good old U.S dollars! I’ve made $ playing 4 or 5 different games already this week, as well as flipping (buying low and selling higher) NFT characters!

How else can I make money playing games?

The way you earn varies from game to game, but each week seems to reveal another new strategy, platform, or idea. Many are new strategies, and while some have “triple A” 3D animation and graphics, others are simpler and use basic one-dimensional graphics for the gameplay.

Some of these games are actually tied to a token on the blockchain. The game developer creates their own token, not too unlike Bitcoin or Ethereum, and it can be bought or sold on the open market as well as used in the game as currency.

Could you imagine if back in League of Legends, Guild Wars or Final Fantasy, when you were ready to move to a new game, you could sell or easily convert your gold to cash? Some of today’s blockchain games encourage it!

Not only can you now buy and sell characters and weapons, the gold in the game can be traded, bought, sold, or saved like real currency, stocks, crypto, or collectables. Never have I been as excited about PC and mobile gaming as I am today! As an example, I am doing some work for a new game that will launch soon called Pepper Attack. Pepper Attack has its own token or coin… called MYTE. It can be used in the game as currency, but also be traded like Bitcoin. A lot of today’s blockchain games offer this same benefit.

Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to mine I go! Just by owning an NFT from the game, you can login on a daily basis and click “mine” earning real-value tokens passively. Your Pepper goes to work like one of the 7 Dwarves mining MYTE, and later on you can convert it to other tokens or cold, hard cash.

There’s more to do in this particular game as well. Like any good RPG or MMORPG, each pepper has a unique combination or skills like attack, defense, evade, hit points, and more. As an example of the possibilities, if you have a high attack score, other characters will be able to pay you in MYTE to “train” them, raising their score as well.

In addition, these NFTs have unique physical traits, some are common and some are very rare. This game in particular have toons that look more like anime-ish elves with weapons and a

stem… I have to admit the artwork is really spicey! (see what I did there?) Other games are of course totally different.

Some people will simply collect these NFTs/characters as an investment, like playing cards or comics. Others will use them in the game, and still others will do both. Either way, they can be held, or sold for a profit!

Unlike the games of the past, when you’re ready to move on you don’t walk away and lose all the $ you have spent for characters, skins, weapons, potions, and other items. When you’re done, you’ll be able to sell your character and items… possibly for a profit… maybe a lot of profit… and move on.

These are not your father’s computer games!

As we move ahead in the genre, we are seeing AAA studios coming out with big-dollar productions, like Blankos, Mist, Illuvium, Ember Sword and others. Some of these games actually let you buy the land you build on!

Did you have your own house in Ultima Online, Star Wars Galaxies, or Archeage? What if you could have used It as a shop and been paid in dollars for your wares, rented it to another player, or sold it for cold hard cash at a huge profit down the road?

In many of today’s games, not only is it common, but extremely hard to come by, and quite expensive. Not only are people paying thousands of dollars for a plot in some of the games that have land, but they’re paying it many months before the game is even released.

They do it, because in many cases they know that they can easily 2X, 10X, or even 50X their investment a short piece down the road. Seriously? Seriously… and the early bird catches the worm!

Other games with lesser budgets are more graphic-based, but have super earnings potential as well, and are just as fun to play. These include Splinterlands, (a card game like Magic!) Crypto Blades, Axie Infinity and more.

Regardless of if the new blockchain game of your choice is a RPG, MOBA, a card game or racing game… the fact that you can put some coin into your pocket playing adds a whole new element. It’s heckafun making money playing a game!

The early nerd catches the worm!

In many cases, if you can catch a game before it releases, the land, characters, weapons, and other items… in most cases all NFTs… can be grabbed at a tiny fraction of the future value.

Of course, always check out the game details and team first, and be confident it’s a good place to put your money. Not all games are made the same.

If you’re lucky enough to find out about and partake in an early sale, for example, like grabbing a character NFT or two in “Pepper Attack” before the late September launch date, you may be in for a real treat!

There are plenty of new titles coming down the pipe that look to be fun, have great communities, and offer earning opportunities. A web search will find services and websites that will keep you on your toes and alert you of upcoming blockchain game releases, marketplace opening, and more.

As we look forward, the future of gaming on the blockchain is really, really exciting! Not only are the games getting better and more fun, but they’re getting better at making the economics work more smoothly as well.

The games are not without challenges, as they need to be made to sustain themselves economically over the long haul. In addition, they need to have higher levels of security (thanks blockchain!) and of course, work without becoming “pay to win”. Thankfully, the new breed of developers have risen to the challenge!

The next time you look for a new game to add to your phone or desktop, or just want a change of pace, look to a game that pays to play! Your wallet might thank you.

Another perk, is your husband or wife will appreciate it as well! Instead of hearing “are you going to play that stupid game all night again?”, you may start to hear things like “I’ll put the kids to bed tonight sweetheart, so you can get online and play”.

One can only hope…

Nick Cifonie