Crypto Gaming

Why crypto games are pay-to-win and what we can do about it

Why crypto games are pay-to-win and what we can do about it

Sep 6, 2022

Crypto games have been on the rise recently. Many gamers are excited about the prospect of earning cryptocurrency through gaming. However, one issue with many of these games is that they are pay-to-win. This means that players who spend more money on the game have a significant advantage over those who do not. This can be a major turnoff for gamers and can ruin the fun and competitive nature of gaming. In this article, I will explore why crypto games tend to be pay-to-win and discuss possible solutions to this issue.


First, we have to look at what makes crypto games pay-to-win. When you add NFTs to games, this comes with the requirement that these assets will be bought and sold on the open marketplace. When you couple this with the fact that these assets could affect the core gameplay in the game, the unavoidable consequence is that those with more disposable income in the real world, will be rewarded in the virtual world of the game.


Now pay-to-win, does not necessarily mean it is a terrible game. Many games we all know and love have some form of pay-to-win mechanics. For example, in FIFA’s Ultimate Team mode, players can spend real money on packs which contain random players. These players could be legends or superstars which would give that player a massive advantage over someone who did not spend any money. Does this make the game bad? No, because the game is still a lot of fun to play. It was so fun that when I first started playing Ultimate Team, I couldn’t imagine how I spent so many hours playing FIFA when Ultimate Team was not an available game mode.


So what makes Ultimate Team fun, even though it has pay-to-win mechanics? The key is in limiting pay-to-win mechanics through various gameplay mechanics. If Ultimate Team gave free rein to the pay-to-win mechanics, it would be a terrible game. Here are the ingredients of Ultimate Team that limit the pay-to-win impact:


The skill factor. Although you can obtain great players through packs, at the end of the day, you still have to play and win games using your team. Even though it might give you an advantage, a skilled player can account for the money a player spent by just being better.


The randomness factor. The impact is also lessened by the fact that packs are random and even if you spend ungodly amounts on packs, you still could, in theory, have a very average team.


Pay to win is also not a unique phenomenon in gaming. Football in the real world has pay-to-win mechanics that fans regularly complain about, but as long as there is a balance and there are factors that can fight against it, we are happy to let it continue.


So in my mind (at least for now) these facts are clear:

  1. Pay-to-win mechanics are somewhat inherent to crypto games.

  2. Pay-to-win mechanics does not equal a bad game.

  3. The pay-to-win impact must be limited in order to be a good game.

  4. Games that fully embrace pay-to-win mechanics with open arms will be bad. (Maybe)


On the fourth point, the solution to make a good game with pay-to-win mechanics is hard, but theoretically possible. It requires the appetite of gamers to change. Maybe the future is heading towards this but I am very skeptical, it mostly seems to be corporations wishing that this is where the future is heading rather than it actually going there. In my opinion, fully fledged pay-to-win games will not give the escape from the real world that we as gamers want!


In a future article, I will explore the pay-to-win limiting mechanisms we are implementing in the games we are building here at Zedball.


What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!

Latest articles