Getting paid to play games sounds too good to be true - but it’s a reality with play-to-earn (P2E) crypto games. We're covering the best blockchain games and play to earn games for 2023... and what the taxman will want to know about your earnings. 🎮
Welcome to the future of gaming! Blockchain technology has revolutionized the way we play games, creating decentralized worlds with real earning potential. Looking for the best blockchain games to play? We've rounded up the best play to earn games for 2023 that you need to play.
11 best play to earn crypto games
Looking for the best blockchain games? Our 11 best play to earn crypto games in 2023 are:
- Gods Unchained
- My Neighbour Alice
- Alien Worlds
- DeFi Kingdoms
- Axie Infinity
What is a blockchain game?
A blockchain game uses blockchain technology to create a secure database for tracking ownership and value of in-game assets. Players can use cryptocurrency or NFTs as in-game currency or assets, and cheating is nearly impossible due to the transparency of blockchain technology. Blockchain games allow gamers to monetize their hobby, offering immersive and rewarding experiences.
How big is blockchain gaming?
The global blockchain gaming market size was projected to grow from USD 4.6 billion in 2022 to USD 65.7 billion by 2027, according to market research published in December 2022.
How do blockchain games make money?
Blockchain games can make money in a variety of ways. Here are some of the most common ways:
- In-game purchases: Just like traditional video games, blockchain games can offer in-game purchases such as virtual items, power-ups, and access to premium features. Players can use cryptocurrency to make these purchases, and the game developer earns a profit from the sales.
- Trading fees: Many blockchain games feature non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that can be traded with other players. Game developers can earn a percentage of the transaction fees associated with these trades.
- Sponsorships and partnerships: Blockchain games can attract sponsors and partners who want to advertise their products or services to a dedicated audience. These partnerships can generate revenue for the game developer through advertising, affiliate marketing, or other forms of compensation.
- Play-to-earn: Some blockchain games offer players the ability to earn cryptocurrency or other rewards for their gameplay. This creates a virtuous cycle where players are incentivized to continue playing the game, and the game developer benefits from increased engagement.
- Secondary market sales: Because NFTs can be bought, sold, and traded with other players, some blockchain games create a secondary market for rare or desirable in-game items. Game developers can earn a percentage of these sales, or they can even create their own marketplaces to facilitate these transactions.
What are play to earn games?
As the name suggests, play to earn games lets players earn crypto for playing games. Game mechanisms can hugely differ, as can the rewards paid out, but the principle is the same - the game provides a financial incentive to play and progress.
Play to earn is a relatively new business model within the gaming industry that has sprung up mostly as a result of the decentralized finance (DeFi) phenomenon.
Decentralizing ownership of video game content gives gamers ownership over their in-game assets, encouraging them to grow the in-game economy and create value for both players and game developers. Essentially, players are rewarded for their time and effort spent in-game. As well as this, players may be able to vote with governance tokens as to how the game develops and on the features that are added.
As the play to earn gaming industry is still quite new - it's facing some teething problems. One of the main problems is that although the games may be fun to play for a brief period of time, many of them are focusing too much on the financial side of things, instead of the mechanics of the game. In other words, you might be able to make some money out of them, but you won't enjoy yourself all that much while you do! That's why we've put together our list of the best play to earn crypto games, based on popularity, game mechanics, and potential earnings.
What are the best blockchain games in 2023?
Decentraland is a decentralized 3D virtual reality platform that utilized NFTs to digitize in-game assets. The game soared in popularity - in part, thanks to the 2020 lockdown - and now has a huge community across Twitter, Reddit, and more.
All you need to do to start playing is create an avatar, give it a name, accept the T&Cs, and start exploring the metaverse. Though to enjoy the full range of wonders available in this realm - you'll want a crypto wallet connected to customize your avatar, visit spaces, and take part in events.
Players can create virtual buildings like homes, theme parks, casinos, galleries, and more and charge other players to visit, as well as showcase a range of digital content. Decentraland is absolutely packed full of NFTs, which players can buy, sell and trade inside and outside the metaverse.
What are Decentraland tokens called?
MANA is the currency of Decentraland and although you won't earn it just for playing like with other play to earn models - the sky's the limit. You can earn MANA by providing services, selling goods in the marketplace, and so on. You can buy Mana tokens from a variety of crypto exchanges, as well as sell MANA tokens you earn. MANA is currently valued at $0.70 but has had an all-time high of $5 previously.
How do you make money in Decentraland?
If you're looking to make more - land and names are the big money makers in Decentraland. Acquire and sell both on the marketplace to earn more.
For a real Inception moment, you can also play in-game play to earn crypto games within Decentraland. Some of the most popular are Ethermon and WonderQuest.
Similarly, you can gamble MANA in casinos within Decentraland. Users who create and build casinos and other popular destinations are often some of the biggest earners in the Metaverse.
Pros: Free to play and unlimited earning opportunities.
Cons: Land is expensive and creates a barrier to entry.
Like our first listing, The Sandbox is a decentralized, virtual world where players can explore and build whatever they can imagine.
The Sandbox wasn't always a blockchain-based metaverse. It originated as a game-builder sim on Steam before being bought by Animoca Brands and being moved onto the Ethereum blockchain.
What this means is that the game mechanics and features of The Sandbox are far better than many other play to earn games, as the game existed long before it was monetized.
But if you're wondering how to make money on The SandBox - it works like many other metaverses.
What are Sandbox tokens called?
The economy runs on SAND, an ERC-20 token, which is both a utility and governance token. With SAND, you can buy land, clothes, avatars, and thousands of other goods on the marketplace.
These goods are known as Voxel Assets. You can use VoxEdit to create 3D renders - and there's a lot of demand for unique items in this metaverse.
How do you make money in The Sandbox?
As well as creating and selling Voxel Assets, you can also monetize your land by creating unique experiences for users and charging an entry fee or for microtransactions, whether that's a casino, an art gallery, or an office!
Pros: Ideal for artists and creators and strong game mechanics.
Cons: The price of land can be a barrier to entry.
Gods Unchained is a play to earn NFT trading card game. The game's development team was led by the former director of Magic The Gathering Arena and like MTG, you'll use your cards to battle.
To get started, just create an account and download the game for free on the site. You'll be offered a tutorial to show you how the game mechanics work, as well as getting 85 free cards to get your deck started. Easy!
How do you make money on Gods Unchained?
So how do you make money on Gods Unchained? Well, the cards you play with are actually NFTs, which you can sell on the in-game marketplace. The price cards go for varies, but the rarer the card the higher the price tag.
What are Gods Unchained Tokens called?
The game also has its own token, GODS, which is valued at $0.3 at the time of writing. You can earn GODS tokens by completing matches, and you can earn more GODS tokens by staking.
Pros: Completely free to start playing and earning unlike many other play to earn games.
Cons: Gameplay options may be limited for players who don't enjoy deck-building games.
Valhalla is a turn-based tactical combat game and for memecoin lovers, there's no better option, because this is one of the first projects from Floki Inu.
Floki Inu is a multichain token for both Ethereum and Binance Smart Chain, that sprung up back in 2021 after billionaire Elon Musk tweeted that he'd be naming his Shiba Inu Floki.
How do you make money on Valhalla?
Valhalla was one of the first big projects launched by the Floki Inu team and the metaverse has plenty to explore - you can stroll through open worlds, as well as battle monsters and be rewarded in FLOKI for doing so. As well as this, you can buy, trade and sell NFTs in the in-game marketplace.
The battles themselves won't see you hammering a controller. They're more like chess-based moves, and it's very much strategy focused. So for gamers used to triple-A combat games, the mechanics might not be up to the standard they're used to. However, as Valhalla is totally free to play, it's worth a try before you write it off.
Pros: No cost barrier to entry and the economy is run on the very popular Floki Inu token.
Cons: Graphics and game mechanics may not live up to traditional combat games.
If you're old enough to remember the Tamagotchi craze, you probably already have an idea of what Aavegotchi is.
Aavegotchi is an NFT collectibles game, built on Ethereum. Your Aavagotchi avatar is a digital collectible, with unique attributes.
To start playing, you need to get an Aavegotchi. You can do this by buying one in the marketplace, or by purchasing a portal that will give you ten Aavagotchis to pick from.
What's are Aavegotchi tokens called?
The native currency of Aavegotchi is GHST.
Once you have your new pet, you need to name it and work on boosting its rarity score. You can do this by adding wearables and increasing your XP and kinship points by interacting with your Aavegotchi. As well as this, you can stake Aave aTokens in order to increase your rarity score.
How do you make money on Aavegotchi?
When it comes to making money with your Aavegotchi there are a few options. Your pixelated friend is actually DeFi powered, so when you've staked crypto with your Aavegotchi, you'll earn interest for doing so.
As well as this, you can sell and trade Aavegotchis and Portal NFTs on the marketplace and farm land for tokens - although this feature is still in development.
Pros: Retro fun and gamified DeFi for newcomers.
Cons: You'll need to buy and spend GHST in order to get started playing.
My Neighbour Alice
If you're a fan of Animal Crossing or Minecraft, My Neighbour Alice is probably your cup of tea.
Explore a charming metaverse where you can construct, create and play with your neighbours. As with most metaverse worlds, most of the things you'll see in-world like buildings, animals and wearables and more are NFTs that you can build and customize to your liking, as well as buy and sell on the marketplace.
How do you make money on My Neighbour Alice?
You'll also earn rewards for participating in daily activities like fishing, farming and more. As well as this, the game features several gamified DeFi options like staking and NFT loaning.
What's the My Neighbour Alice token called?
The economy in My Neighbour Alice is ALICE, an ERC-20 token, currently valued at $1.80 at the time of writing.
Pros: Visually appealing and ideal for Animal Crossing fans.
Cons: Land prices can be a barrier to entry.
Alien Worlds is a play to earn game that runs on Ethereum, WAX, and BNB.
What are Alien Worlds tokens called?
In this metaverse, the economy runs on Trilium (TLM) and you'll be competing with other players for scarce resources by mining for NFTs and in-game tokens.
To play, create an account, select your avatar and username, and then pick a planet and land to mine. You'll start off with just a shovel, but you'll be able to collect many other tools (in the form of NFTs) to improve your chances of finding rewards while mining.
How do you make money in Alien Worlds?
Players can also stake their TLM to specific planets in order to increase mining rewards on that planet for players, as well as use it to vote on game developments and governance issues.
At the time of writing, TLM is valued at around $0.02, down from its all-time high of $6. But the game remains popular with players, regularly clocking in more than 200,000 players daily according to DappRadar.
Pros: No cost barrier to entry and simple mechanics make it easy to get started.
Cons: Limited gameplay options and mandatory time-outs for mining activities.
DeFi Kingdoms is a DEX, LP, and game all in one. You can play it on a PC and use your MetaMask browser extension or through mobile (if you connect through the MetaMask mobile browser).
Once you've connected your MetaMask wallet to the DFK website, set up a profile and enter Gaia.
What are DeFi Kingdoms tokens called?
JEWEL is what makes DeFi Kingdoms run, and you'll need to purchase some to get started as you need it to do practically anything in-game. You can trade JEWEL for a huge variety of other tokens and then stake it in-game in the bank for passive income. You can also use JEWEL to provide liquidity through the gardens function in the game. At the time of writing, JEWEL is valued at $0.30.
How do you make money on DeFi Kingdoms?
The JEWEL functions are just one aspect of the game though. When it comes to actually playing DeFi Kingdoms - the main gameplay is in the Heroes function. These Heroes are utility NFTs with a huge variety to pick from. You can buy a Hero with JEWEL from the tavern (the in-game marketplace). You can then use Heroes to summon other Heroes, list your Heroes for hire, sell your Heroes, and - of course - battle PVP and go on quests. You'll earn DFKTEARS (Gaia's tears) tokens for going on these adventures - currently valued at $0.24.
Pros: Gamified DeFi features and a lot of new features coming out.
Cons: Cost barrier to entry and many features still in BETA.
Axie Infinity was one of the most established play to earn crypto games on the market, with more than 2 million people playing every day at its peak. However, the game has struggled to retain players following a $620 million hack in May 2022.
The NFT-based lets users play, battle, collect, breed, and trade creatures known as Axies which are digitized as NFTs. Think blockchain Pokemon and you’re on the right track.
To start playing Axie Infinity - you'll need to get three Axies from the Axie Marketplace. These can cost anywhere between 0.001 ETH all the way up to 100 ETH and more! This cost to start playing Axie Infinity can be a barrier to entry for some people.
But to get around this, you can apply for an Axie Scholarship - where a breeder or manager loans out a free Axie so you can get stuck in and start playing (and earning!). You can find Scholarships on a variety of sites - including a dedicated subreddit.
What are Axie Infinity tokens called?
When it comes to playing, you'll earn ERC-20 SLP tokens (Smooth Love Potions) whenever you battle monsters in adventure mode, battle other players in the arena, and complete daily quests. SLP tokens are in high demand because you need them to breed new Axies. At the time of writing, SLP tokens are valued at around $0.003 and the average player will earn between 100 - 200 SLP tokens each day.
AXS (Axie Infinity Shard) tokens are also a key component of the game. You can earn this ERC-20 token in-game by breeding monsters, competing in PVP battles, and selling rare Axies. You can also swap SLP for AXS tokens on Uniswap. At the time of writing, AXS tokens are worth $11 which is no small amount for playing a game!
How do you make money on Axie Infinity?
However, you might want to hold on to your AXS tokens for long-term gains because you can stake AXS tokens and be rewarded by the Axie Community Treasury. Estimated rewards are currently at 40% APR.
The good news keeps on coming because one of the best ways to earn is through the NFT function in the game. You can breed and sell Axies - which are digitized as NFTs. And Axies aren't the only NFTs you can buy and sell in the game, you can also invest in Lunacia land. These NFTs vary in price based on their location in-game.
Who owns Axie Infinity?
Axie Infinity was developed by Vietnamese developer, Sky Mavis, in 2018.
What about the Ronin hack?
Axie Infinity has weathered some of the biggest storms in crypto history. In March 2022, Ronin, an Ethereum sidechain built for Axie Infinity, was hacked. More than 173,600 ETH and 25.5 million USDC were stolen with a combined value of over $600 million. In the same year, AXS’s market cap took a significant hit. Despite this, the game continues to draw in new players and retain previous players.
Pros: Fun gameplay, easy to earn a variety of tokens.
Cons: Cost can be a barrier to entry.
Splinterlands is a tactical trading card game - where cards are digitized as NFT tokens.
You can play Splinterlands for free, but if you want to access the play to earn mechanics in-game - there is a cost barrier to entry like with Axie, though it's much lower. You'll need to buy a Summoner's Book for $10. Once you've purchased this, you can earn rewards, enter tournaments, and trade on the market.
What are Splinterlands tokens called?
When you play Splinterlands, you'll earn DEC for participating in ranked battles. DEC (Dark Energy Crystals) tokens are the main in-game currently in Splinterlands. The amount of DEC tokens you receive will depend on your league, the number of players battling, your win string, your card choice, and more. DEC tokens are currently valued at around $0.0008. But considering players can quite easily earn around 500 DEC an hour, it's not a bad price for having fun!
How do you make money in Splinterlands?
You can also earn Splinterlands credits for playing. Splinterland credits can only be spent within the game to purchase packs, cards, and more.
This matters because the NFT trading aspect is where the real value of the play to earn model comes in. The rarer the cards, the more you can sell them for (or trade them for). You can sell and trade Splinterlands cards on many NFT marketplaces including OpenSea.
When you hold Splinterlands NFTs, you'll be rewarded with SPS tokens - the Splinterlands governance token. The more NFTs and the rarer cards you hold the more SPS tokens you'll be rewarded with. SPS tokens are currently valued at around $0.02 and you can sell them on many marketplaces or stake them to earn more.
Pros: Low cost to entry and many play to earn strategies available.
Cons: Lower rewards than some other play to earn crypto games currently.
Coinfantasy isn't your traditional blockchain game. It's more like gamified investment.
In Coinfantasy, you can pick different investment strategies - like hodl play for long-term investors or DeFi twist for those with a higher risk appetite - and you'll play various games based on your strategy and earn tokens. As Coinfantasy is still very new to the market, there are other strategy games in-development like yield farmers and meme riot.
What are CoinFantasy tokens called?
Coinfantasy is powered by CF tokens (CTFs). It's easy to start playing and earning CF tokens. Just pick a game strategy and stake your CF tokens, create your portfolio, and start earning rewards by topping the leaderboard. CFTs are yet to be listed on major exchanges, but they're launching soon.
Pros: Ideal for newcomers to crypto and currently you can get a reward bonus for early signup.
Cons: CFT tokens are yet to launch on major exchanges.
Other play to earn platform options
Although we have our list above of specific games to play, there are actually several play to earn platforms now - which offer a variety of games to pick from and earn rewards. Some honorable mentions include:
- GALA (Gala Games)
- WEMIX (WeMix Network)
- BNX (BinaryX)
How play to earn crypto is taxed
The play to earn crypto model is pretty new - which of course means tax offices around the world haven’t yet issued guidance on it for the most part, with the exception of the Philippines.
After it hit the news that many Filipino residents were using Axie Infinity to maintain a regular income during the initial stages of the global lockdown - the Philippine Tax Office stated that players earning more than $5,000 a year needed to pay tax on their Axie Infinity earnings.
Just because a tax office hasn’t yet given out guidance doesn’t mean you won’t pay tax on it. All crypto investments are subject to tax - so your play to earn crypto income will be included in this.
The type of tax you’ll pay will depend on the type of transactions you’re making in your game. It’ll either be subject to Income Tax or Capital Gains Tax - or sometimes both.
Whenever you sell, spend, swap, or gift (depending on where you live) crypto, you’ll pay Capital Gains Tax on any profit you make from it. A capital gain or loss is the difference in value from when you acquired the asset to when you spent, sold, swapped, or gifted it. If the value has increased - you have a capital gain and you’ll pay Capital Gains Tax. If the value has decreased - you have a capital loss and you won’t pay Capital Gains Tax.
Crypto can in some instances also be subject to Income Tax. This varies depending on where you live but in general things like getting paid in crypto, staking crypto, and mining crypto are all subject to Income Tax. So you’ll pay tax at the same rate as your normal Income Tax rate on the fair market value of the crypto on the day you received it.
Play to Earn Income Tax
As we said above, no tax offices have issued clear guidance on play to earn crypto income. However, as it is a source of income it is likely that many tax offices will subject this to Income Tax. So for example, if you’re earning new tokens or coins - like AXS or SLP tokens - you may need to pay Income Tax on the fair market value of those coins on the day you receive them.
That’s not all though - because when you later sell, swap, spend, or gift those tokens or coins, you’ll pay Capital Gains Tax.
Play to Earn Games Capital Gains Tax
Whenever you sell, swap, spend, or gift (depending on where you live) crypto, you’ll pay Capital Gains Tax on any profit you make. It doesn't matter if you've already paid Income Tax on your crypto - Capital Gains Tax still applies!
And your NFTs? From a tax perspective, these are treated exactly the same way as tokens and coins. So whenever you sell, swap, or even potentially gift NFTs, you’ll pay Capital Gains Tax on any gain.
More questions? Here are some of the most common questions we hear about blockchain games...
What is the biggest number one blockchain game?
It depends on who you ask! Arguably, Axie Infinity was the largest play-to-earn game in terms of the number of users at its peak prior to the Ronin hack, but has struggled to retain and attract players in the current market conditions.
What is the top NFT game?
Again, this depends on who you ask and what games you like. There are many NTF-based games, from trading card games like Gods Unchained and Splinterlands to games with in-game NFT assets like Decentraland and Axie Infinity.
How do blockchain games work?
The same as most other games, although they're largely hosted online instead of by downloading dedicated software or apps. All you'll need to do generally is create an account to start playing. The key difference between blockchain games and traditional games is the decentralized model that allows players to earn and retain their own assets in-game.
Is blockchain gaming safe?
Generally speaking, the technologies behind blockchain gaming are secure and the transparency of public ledgers when dealing with in-game assets may help with a number of issues around in-game thefts where assets are not tokenized. However, as with all crypto platforms where there's a lot of money involved, crypto gaming platforms offer an appealing target for hackers, so you should always follow the best security practices for your crypto.
How Koinly can help with crypto taxes
Koinly crypto tax software calculates all your crypto taxes for you, including play to earn crypto taxes. All you need to do is sync the various crypto wallets, exchanges or blockchains you use via API or CSV file import and Koinly will automatically import your transaction data. Once your data is in, Koinly will calculate all your crypto taxes for you and create one simple tax summary. All you need to do is download your chosen tax report and file it with your local tax authority.