Why You Shouldn't Quit Your Job to Make Money Playing Gamesby@SilicaNotes
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Why You Shouldn't Quit Your Job to Make Money Playing Games

by SandstoneMay 9th, 2022
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There has been a surge of play-to-earn games where you can reap the benefits of gaming by accumulating real money. Playing games is an act of leisure and self-determination meaning, we choose to play because we want to. Players should hardly notice the money they are earning because it is not tied to the enjoyment of the game. It’s unlikely you’ll get rich from good P2E games, and this will be excellent. There is a goldilocks zone to maintaining the health, wealth and happiness of any ecosystem.

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There has been a massive surge of play-to-earn games where you can reap the benefits of gaming by accumulating real money. Sounds great at first glance, right? Or perhaps you think it’s like gambling and a losing game you will not fall for. Or perhaps a slow deception where you have to spend ridiculous amounts of time to earn anything of actual value? Well, let’s dive into the whatwhy and when of effective play-to-earn games and you’ll be armed with knowledge on making that cash-money from the comfort of your chair and a controller in your hands.

Can I Actually Make a Living Playing Games Like I Always do?

You likely know the answer to this. No. Not how you normally play. If you could, you probably would’ve already discovered how. A game company like steam could hand out a share of revenue to their users as a percentage of time spent on their platform or any time they have unlocked an achievement. Steam does have a card and asset trading system but you cannot consistently unlock them. Which often limits the user to about 6 per game. If earning requires selling assets on a marketplace outside the game itself, it is not part of the game and instead of a laborious chore. I consider this version of playing to earn a mirage of smoke and mirrors.

Let me briefly explain what I have learned from 8 years of human-computer-interaction and game design and apply it to this emerging genre which has enormous potential. We’ll then hopefully have a better metric to locate which P2E games we should commit our time and energy to.

The Principles of Good Play-to-Earn Games

  1. Fun.

    The long list of failed edutainment and gamification applications can tell you that using gamified elements in systems with a primary goal outside of fun is an unsavoury recipe. From the spur of gamification throughout the 21st Century we have learnt creating games using extrinsic tools of motivation build, at worst, an utterly stressful, demotivating and disappointing system, and at best, a system with a short-lived excitement.Playing games is an act of leisure and self-determination. Meaning, we choose to play because we want to.

  2. Choice and desire.

    If a person is not consistently choosing to play a game out of an intrinsic desire to play, it will become a process of unsatisfying labour which is the same reason why people quit their jobs. It seems quite the paradox to not have a play-to-earn game with a primary goal of earning. Yet that is what we need. Mark my words, they’ll all fail in sustaining a player base if this critical requirement is not met.

  3. Significant asset generation.

    I’ll break down what I mean by significant into 3 points of importance.

    1. Passivity. Players hardly notice the money they are earning because it is not tied to the enjoyment of the game. When they discover their funds in their account it ought to be a surprise. In a sense, it won’t be dissappointing. Players will feel like it makes satisfying sense in parallel to the time and effort they have spent playing the game. Imagine working a job to discover you have been sent a bonus to your bank account for the sustained time, efforts and contributions you have made.

    2. Positive Sum. The amounts of money need to be meaningful enough to be used on essentials like the costs of living – food, rent, and utilities. Think of work-life balance here. How much time and effort do you need to put into a game in order to benefit from its payout and contribute to your wellbeing for the week.

      No one wants to do a workweek and not have earned enough funds to spend time with their friends. This point is tricky. A game may start out small with not enough funds circulating to distribute significant amounts. The only thing keeping a company like this alive then is how fun their game actually is. For play-to-earn games to work out the company either has to have a game that is pretty fun (which will improve with continuous development and community feedback) and with a significant asset distribution to players – or – A game that is really fun (continuing to be developed) and has an increasing fund distribution as it grows. There is a clear curve of earnings increasing alongside financial backers and player growth.

    3. Transferable to fiat. Ideally in its simplest forms, it ought to be a generally accepted monetary asset such as a popular cryptocurrency or it just be fiat. Honestly, I’d rather fiat. There are hurdles to transferring to fiat if it is crypto unless there’s the integrated option of trading to fiat. Cashing out. There may be lockouts until you earn enough to cash out – this may be necessary to sustain smaller ecosystems. This could be incredibly painful or something you hardly notice. Assets generated in-game need to be able to be converted into usable assets in the real world. Otherwise, the word “earn” in play-to-earn is meaningless and impractical.

Why can I earn money playing games?

Wouldn’t that structure bankrupt the Company, how could that be sustainable?

  1. It benefits the game company. Having a community of players incentivised to make money, keeps them invested in the game and become long-term contributors and consumers. This means the game company can maintain a large player base and show their success in maintaining a sustainable product by the number of people who continue to be involved. Of course, even governments want this kind of capital incentive. We want to live in a country that supports our well-being. People migrate to countries that provide better security and prosperity. Similarly, if a game provides better financial security and prosperity to enjoy their life, then people will flock to become a citizen of the game’s society.

  2. It benefits the ecosystem. If a community is flourishing in wealth and enjoyment, players will love to share, help and boost the entire social-economic culture in the game, on social media, and through word-of-mouth. It will have a self-organizing and positive reinforcing homeostasis where developers and players are mutually supportive in bolstering the game’s evolution.

  3. This is the challenge: how do I as a game company build a sustainable economic system in-game which is maintained to be financially viable and beneficial to all users and members involved? This is possible, and feedback mechanisms for the appropriate distribution of funds is the solution. Market socialism and non-competitive, non-zero-sum game systems are likely frames of reference for implementing an ecosystem where all players can benefit.

When Can I Get Rich Playing Games?

There are games available right now you can try like Axie InfinityThe Sandbox, or Megafans. I recommend trying genres of games you like and giving them a go-to see if they are fun. In these early stages of P2E games, there isn’t a lot of diversity and most revolve around NFTs. So, if that is your jam, by all means, make some crypto PB and J sandwiches.

If you are thinking to replace your job with these activities, I’d warn you against quitting your job at this time. From my research and point of view on these games, I have not found any available to meet the above criteria of a good P2E game.

My hope is for a P2E game to emerge driven by good ethics, design, and goals. The company nor the players can really aim to get rich from an effective play-to-earn game. Try out the buzz to get NFTs and sell them for high prices if you are so inclined to trade and market assets. If you are interested in playing an enjoyable game which you also happen to earn money from… strap in for the long ride. It’s going to take a long time for benevolent and altruistic actors to come forward. I mean do they exist? It might be that we need pro-social developers working with the government budget or that wealthy organization’s budget allocations on the side of these good P2E ecosystems.

There is still a lot of stigma and bad company incentives behind the trend. Just like the countless scams in cryptocurrencies, NFTs and DAPPs, I am not convinced we are anywhere near the stage to pull off a game you can economically benefit from without making another laborious job and not really a game you’d want to play. In fact, the only way it may be feasible is in a new economy of profit where there are hard caps to how much one individual can earn. It may even be necessary to have even the owners, developers, employees, and any tie to the ecosystem also being paid in the same way as everyone else. Like everyone else, they are getting pay adjustments for each measure of their time, effort, and creative contributions.

I do think a good P2E game or ecosystem could dramatically help individuals in societies where basic income is not enough or non-existent. I don’t think it’s a replacement of basic income nor do I think basic income is a great solution to the problems in society. UBI is an incredible and necessary first step, though it is not sufficient. Just like a UBI has other benefits besides financial security such as improved mental health so too could an effective P2E game.

People underestimate the intrinsic drive of humans to contribute to their community even if all their basic needs are met. Indeed, humans will increase in motivation and pro-social behaviour when their daily stressors of survival are alleviated in a longer-term and passively sustainable manner.

It’s unlikely you’ll get rich from good P2E games, and this will be excellent. There is a goldilocks zone to maintaining the health, wealth and happiness of any ecosystem and it doesn’t take an expert economist to realise this. Accounting for inflation we need enough money to support our wellbeing over time which includes not breaking our backs trying to get it.

Unfortunately, we are burning out in the current work paradigm where the perpetual cycle of labour reduces well-being for the vast majority. The transfer of endless capitalist earnings into a distributed in-game community is, as I understand, what will make the games incredibly successful. Unsatisfying labor is a fruitless game devoid of happy experiences which ultimately leads to failure across the board.

So, remember that enrichment, in all areas of life, and in good P2E games, will come from enjoying the fruits themselves.