Getting paid to have fun

I have been fortunate enough to make my career in a field that I am passionate about. I am an avid gamer with a passion for solving complex problems and delivering results, and now I get to do this for a living.

There are millions of players around the world, who enjoy playing games and some of them have figured out a way to make a living out of it. We will explore the two more established ways and one emerging ways of doing so in this post.

Content Creators

Creating entertaining content is hard. YouTube & Twitch have given a platform to anyone who wants to be seen and heard. Games who were really skilled at creating engaging content took to these platforms to satisfy the insatiable appetite for engaging video games related content for gamers.

I would watch YouTube walkthroughs for games, achievement hunting guides, reviews and so much more to stay in touch with the games and the industry.

I was slow to take up to Twitch but over time I warmed up to it. Watching Castro 1021 doing his 24 hour charity stream for FIFA (back in late 2015 or early 2016) was quite something.

Anyone can sign up to be a content creator on YouTube or Twitch but you have to be really good to build a big audience and make a living doing it.

Competitive Gaming (eSports)

As a kid growing up I loved watching sports. I would watching any sport that was on TV. So when eSports and competitive gaming started taking off, it was no surprise to me. eSports players are elite athletes who are really good at their game competing for championships and prize money just like any other athlete playing any other sport. eSports were not taken seriously but over the years at audience size and prize pools have increased significantly.

Being an eSport athlete is now a feasible career path that is open to those who are extremely skilled and can handle the pressure. But the total number of players who can be good enough to make a living doing this is very small.

Play and Earn Games

These are games where you are rewarded for your time, skill and money spent in the game or for just being a part of the community. This category of games is often referred to as Play To Earn games but that makes it sound like a chore, so I like calling them Play and Earn games, because you play for fun and the side effect is earning. These games have democratized making a living while having fun playing a game.

In 2020, Free to Play games earned approx. $100B in revenue selling in game items in virtual worlds. This is more than the music and movie industry combined. $0 of that went to the average player who played the games and bought those in game items.

People accept this as the norm, but it is not the norm in the physical world. It doesn’t have to be the norm in games.

At Immutable, we are creating real (two way) economies for games where participants are empowered and rewarded as they grow, so that players get the value they deserve.

There are several games that fall in this category. Axie Infinity, Gods Unchained, Blankos Block Party, So Rare, The Sandbox, Splinterlands etc. For this post I will quickly touch up on Axie Infinity and its impact in Philippines (Ref).

Philippines is a country of 111 million people with a large number of them teetering on the poverty line even before COVID-19. When the pandemic hit its economic outfall was brutal.

Axie Infinity is a game where people breed, battle and trade cute digital creatures called Axie. You need 3 Axies to be able to play the game (which one has to purchase) and as part of playing the game you could earn Special Love Potion (SLP) which could be sold for Ethereum, which in turn can then be cashed out.

Players were able to earn $300 to $400 for a week weeks of gameplay, which was more than they could earn in a month doing other jobs.

But as the word spread out, the price of Axies shot up from $5 each to $150 each. This made it harder for the folks in Philippines, but along came communities such as Yeild Guild Games who would loan out Axies to players (called sponsorship) for 30% share of the earnings. So players with no money down could play the game and earn their way towards their own axies.

This phenomenon was really appealing to me, because for the first time this democratized play and earn. People can now earn a living and put food on their tables by playing a game and having fun.

I cannot help but wonder what would it have taken for someone in Philippines to do what they were able to do with digital assets on blockchain with physical assets and current financial systems?

That said, I do think we are very early in the Play and Earn revolution. The current games in this space are what Pong would be to current AAA games, but the space is rapidly evolving and my belief is that it will revolutionize gaming and also form the foundations of Metaverse.

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