What’s the Difference: Play to Earn (P2E) vs. Play to Own (P2O)

Play to Earn

When blockchain technology burst onto the scene back in 2009, not many people could have envisioned the impact it would have on the gaming world. After all, how could a decentralized ledger of data revolutionize something as interactive and exciting as video games?

Fast-forward a little over a decade, and the answer to that question is now becoming clear.

Blockchain technology has introduced a whole new way for gamers to play and profit, called Play to Earn (P2E) and Play to Own (P2O). Thanks to NFTs and digital tokens, players now have more freedom and control over how they create and trade virtual items, giving them the chance to earn real money – something that was unheard of just a few years ago.

While at first glance, the two concepts may appear to be one and the same, it’s important to understand how each works, and how they differ from one another.

What is Play to Earn (P2E)?

Play to Earn (P2E) is a gaming model that allows players to earn rewards (usually in the form of digital currency) for their time spent playing a particular game. It’s a way for gamers to monetize their play as their digital assets can be sold for real-world money or used to purchase in-game items or upgrades.

The P2E model has grown in popularity over the past few years, with some games offering significant rewards for those who put in the time and effort to progress. The more you play, the more you earn (at least in theory).

In Gods Unchained, for example, players do battle with digital cards that can be bought and sold for real money, with the rarest and most powerful cards fetching hefty sums. Players that log more hours and are more successful on the leaderboard will be rewarded with cards that can help them progress faster and potentially earn more money. The game also has its own currency, $GODS, which is given to players as they complete various challenges.

The drawbacks of P2E

Despite the potential of the P2E model, some platforms have come under fire for manipulating players into investing a lot of time and money into a game, with minimal returns. Oftentimes, the earning potential advertised by the platforms is exaggerated, with players finding that it can take lots of hours and dedication to make anything close to a decent amount.

To make matters worse, many of the popular P2E games have been criticized for being play to win. In other words, players with deeper pockets can purchase better items and upgrades that give them an edge over those who don’t have the same financial resources. This has led to a less than honest reputation for the P2E model, with some players feeling cheated when they don’t get the rewards they were expecting, or are outperformed by those with more money.

What is Play to Own (P2O)?

While P2E may have gotten a bad rap in recent years, the Play to Own model offers a more honest and straightforward way to make money from gaming. P2O games will still operate with a core P2E mechanic, but players will have more use cases for the in-game items that they acquire, thus making them more valuable and desirable.

In addition, the P2O model has more of a focus on single player progression, rather than the competition-based incentives of P2E. This means that players are less likely to be outdone by those with more money and resources, and that everyone can make progress at their own pace.

Perhaps the most important difference between P2E and P2O is that the latter focuses more on the acquisition and improvement of in-game assets (NFTs). Rather than merely trying to earn currency, players can focus on building a collection of ever-more valuable items that can be used, bought and sold for real money.

An example of this in action is N3twork Studio’s Legendary: Heroes Unchained. In this game, players can collect and own heroes to battle gods and monsters, engage in PvP and join massive wars for control of Korelis. In LHU, players own the heroes they collect and the armies they raise. All of these assets are non-fungible tokens (NFTs); so when players gain new heroes or armies, they really own them. 

The P20 model creates a market for players to make money from their in-game progress and rewards, irrespective of how much money they have in the real world. Everyone is able to make progress and build their own digital empires, without worrying about being outdone by those with more resources.

In summary

Blockchain technology has opened up a world of possibilities for gamers, with the Play to Earn and Play to Own models offering unique ways for players to make money from their gaming. While P2E can offer huge rewards to dedicated players, it is also liable to manipulation and exploitation by those with more financial resources.

P2O offers a more fair and rewarding way to make money from gaming, by focusing on the acquisition and improvement of in-game assets. This allows everyone to make progress at their own pace without having to invest vast amounts of money into the game or worrying about keeping up with those who do.

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