The death of play-to-earn gaming

Play-to-earn gaming forms a high barrier to entry by default and severely hinders a game’s ability to grow


Frenzel/Shutterstock modified by Blockworks


The rise of the Web3 industry has been highlighted by many connected trends, but none arguably as important for the global adoption of the industry as the emergence of blockchain-powered games. Initially a movement dominated by play to earn (“P2E”, or GameFi), the gaming revolution has found itself at a turning point — the GameFi era is coming to an end.

According to experts at blockchain gaming resource Polemos, a marked shift toward sustainable gaming models is now occurring, and it involves gaming studios giving back to players in frictionless ways. By focusing on activities such as competitive tournaments with prize pools instead of enticing players with the possibility of earning a regular income stream from playing, studios enable players to still earn small incomes, but without a high risk of a game economy collapse like those experienced by Axie Infinity and StepN.

AXS Token Decline
Axie Infinity’s utility token, AXS, has fallen over 95% since its all-time high

Today, the blockchain gaming movement is preparing to grow its current player base of approximately 1 million users to new heights. Among developers, the resounding emphasis is on implementing sustainable, fun mechanics to keep players engaged and the doors of game studios open. To ensure better blockchain-powered mechanics can shine for players and produce desired industry growth, Polemos believes that maintaining a low barrier to entry across games is paramount, and has identified a pair of projects leading the way to greater adoption.

A gentle lead into Web3 will usher in the next wave of adoption

The lie that the GameFi era told Web3 was that everyone would be able to earn a living simply by participating in game economies — either as a player, investor or collector. These promised earnings were typically designed to be distributed payments in the form of in-game cryptocurrencies that hold real-world value. 

While that vision is great for early participants as it involves game assets appreciating in value, it forms a high barrier to entry by default and severely hinders a game’s ability to grow. When player base growth is capped, projects can’t earn enough revenue to continue generating sufficient real-world value to support the game economy, rendering it entirely reliant on unsustainable inflationary token distribution. Once liquidity for the token dries up among the capped player base, the collapse of the game economy begins.

The reality is that, as in Web2 gaming, earning a comfortable living will be reserved for top players and content creators. It’s likely that only cryptocurrencies that power the most profitable games (if they maintain utility and value in the real world) and gaming assets deemed “special,” like the Counter-Strike skins bundle that sold for $500,000, will hold the power to bestow wealth upon holders. On the bright side, this leaves the door open for low barriers to entry.

The overbearing financialization of game assets is not the answer to onboarding new users to blockchain gaming. While improving the quality of games is certainly a glaring task on blockchain gaming’s to-do list, Polemos Co-CEO Richard McLaren sees improving the onboarding process as the other essential pillar that needs to be in place for the next growth boom to occur for the industry.

“Non-crypto natives have no desire to endure such rigorous friction when starting a new game for the first time. As an industry, we need to solve the steep crypto learning curve currently in place and ease the onboarding process. We’ll know we’ve achieved victory when gamers can play without realizing blockchain is integrated. That’s when the fun truly begins.”

Polemos Co-CEO Richard McLaren

Promising projects breaking down barriers

As blockchain gaming shifts toward more player-friendly, frictionless onboarding processes, Polemos has identified standout projects already working to reduce barriers and generate growth.


In collaboration with Magic, Immutable has launched its non-custodial wallet and authentication platform Immutable Passport, which is designed to streamline the user onboarding process for Web3 gamers through passwordless sign-on and automated wallet creation — all players need is an email to get started. Once onboarded to the platform, players can securely use their Passport across Web3 games, eliminating the need to maintain multiple addresses and wallets.  

Loading Tweet..


METALCORE, a first/third combat territorial warfare game is bringing the world of Web3 gaming into new territory, as it’s slated for an eventual fully free-to-play entry on the globally popular Epic Games Store.

Boasting 31.3 million daily active users, the games store presents an incredible opportunity to showcase features exclusive to blockchain-powered games to an audience that has not yet experienced them. If successful, the game could win the hearts of gamers around the world and encourage them to explore other Web3 games.

Loading Tweet..

The death of GameFi is needed

The terms “play to earn” and “GameFi” themselves imply unsustainability, literally meaning that players are logging on and playing with the primary goal of earning a profit. According to Polemos, this “attracts an audience that is looking to extract value from a game’s ecosystem, instead of contributing to it.” To build great games that further the Web3 gaming industry, developers need to continue evolving to resonate with the audience of gamers that are willing to spend money on games purely for the sake of entertainment.

While promising developments are already being seen that have the power to supercharge the growth of blockchain gaming, there’s still an incredible amount of work remaining to bring the industry up to the standard of gaming around the world.

The death of GameFi is a necessary step in this evolution, as it will surely enable Web3 game developers to focus more on what really matters — creating great games. With onboarding becoming smoother and game quality improving industrywide, the future has never been brighter for the gaming revolution.

Polemos’ role in the future of gaming is to focus on education and onboarding more people into the web3 gaming space.

If you want to master the world of blockchain gaming, Polemos is the resource for you.

This content is sponsored by Polemos.

Don’t miss the next big story – join our free daily newsletter.


Upcoming Events

MON - WED, MARCH 18 - 20, 2024

Digital Asset Summit (DAS) is returning March 2024. What you can expect: And more! Don’t miss out on the opportunity to be in the room when the future of crypto is decided. Join us and help shape the future of our […]

recent research

Research report - cover graphics-2.jpg


Base has doubled-down on its commitment to the Superchain vision, has shown early signs of success with nearly $400M in TVL, and has become home to novel dapps such as which has seen significant traction.


Blockchain is a “natural fit” in games based on open economies and user-generated content, says Wyatt


Their current stance is a half-baked attempt that could stifle innovation and burden an emerging industry


Maker’s DeFi-focused “subDAO” passed a proposal activating a lending market for DAI on the Gnosis Chain


Certain creditors could be repaid sooner, with one hedge fund exec telling Blockworks it expects a payout by the end of the year


Busan is South Korea’s second largest city with a population around 3.4 million


Cyprus granted eToro crypto registration, setting the groundwork for the company to operate crypto services post-MiCa rollout