Evolution of Gaming: From Pay-to-play to Play-to-earn

PIF Nation
9 min readMay 16, 2022

From being a mere hobby or activity for entertainment to becoming a primary source of income, gaming has come a long way. As per statistics, the gaming industry is now worth over $300 billion dollars. This multi-billion industry is continuing to grow exponentially and is one of the most profitable industries globally.

How did gaming manage to become one of the most lucrative entertainment mediums? Today, you’ll see how the gaming industry has evolved throughout the years using different business models from pay-to-play to play-and-earn.

Pay-to-play model

The pay-to-play (P2P) model is the most popular business strategy that started in the 1970s up until the 2000s.

In this model, game developers and publishers generate revenue from initial game sales and subscriptions. You, as a player, will have little to no financial opportunity, but you are guaranteed to get satisfaction and entertainment from the gaming experience.

Most popular games that use the pay-to-play model are played via gaming consoles. This is also the reason why you have to pay to play the games.

Not only did you have to purchase the video game consoles but you also had to buy the games in the form of cartridges or discs. Moreover, if you wish to play online, you need to pay for a subscription.

Check out some of the most popular pay to play games below:


FIFA is a football-simulation game series developed by Electronic Arts. It is the first game to have an official license from the world governing body of football, FIFA. The game can be played on PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch gaming consoles.

Super Mario Brothers

Developed and published by Nintendo, Super Mario Bros. was launched in 1985 after the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), the video game console that ran games stored on cartridges.

In the game, you’ll control Mario (or Luigi in multiplayer mode) as he rescues Princess Toadstool in the Mushroom Kingdom. You’ll use the NES controller to avoid hazards as well as collect power-ups and coins.


Developed by Game Freak, Pokemon is a role-playing video game published by Nintendo for the Game Boy Console. In the game, you will choose a starter Pokemon that you have to use to catch more Pokemons and battle other trainers. Each series of the game has different storylines, characters, and Pokemons.


Pac-Man is a maze action game developed by Namco. Here, you’ll control Pac-Man to eat all the dots inside the maze while avoiding the colored ghosts. The game was initially played on arcade machines and was later on designed to be compatible with Atari, NES, Game Boy, and Xbox consoles.

Free-to-play model

During the late 2000s up to the early 2010s, the free-to-play (F2P) business model entered the gaming industry. Here, games can be played for free, but in-game purchases can also be paid to improve features in the game or buy items and upgrades.

Game developers or publishing studios earn their revenue from in-game purchases or by placing advertisements within the game. You don’t have to buy consoles or physical discs to play the game. All you have to do is download and play.

You can also have your share of profits by streaming your gameplay or by winning esports tournaments to receive prizes. Here are some of the most popular games that use the free-to-play business model:


Ragnarok is a multiplayer online role-playing game released in 2002 for Microsoft Windows. In the game, you are taken into an open world that slowly changes with the passage of time. You can sign up for quests, complete challenges, and win contests in exchange for awards and prizes.

Back in 2002, Ragnarok Online used a pay-to-play model where you have to buy a game time card to play. Each time card costs about $1 per 8 hours. Now, the game has shifted to a free-to-play model where you can enter the game for free and conduct micro-transactions as you advance.

The remaining series of Ragnarok, like Ragnarok M: Eternal Love and Ragnarok X: Next Generation are also using the free-to-play model and can be downloaded on smartphones.


Developed by Roblox Corporation, Roblox allows you to create and play games. This online game platform hosts user-created games with in-game purchases. You can create purchasable content and conduct microtransactions within Roblox. Clothes can be purchased by anyone but only those who have a premium membership can sell them.


Fortnite was developed by Epic Games and is available in three versions: Fortnite Battle Royale, Fortnite: Save the World, and Fortnite: Creative.

The most popular is Fortnite Battle Royale. In the game, you will compete with up to 100 players in a duo or squad. Your goal is to eliminate other players, which you can do by scavenging items, weapons, and even vehicles.

As the round ends, the safe area of the map will shrink. This will force all the players into smaller spaces, which encourages encounters. The last player or squad remaining will be the winner.

League of Legends

Commonly known as LOL, League of Legends is a multiplayer online battle area by Riot Games. It is free-to-play and is monetized through in-game purchases, which are mainly used for character customization.

In the game, you will be a part of a team of five players who will battle with another team to defend your half of the map.

You will control an in-game character of your choice, known as a champion. During the game, you need to collect experience points, earn gold, and purchase items to improve the abilities of your champion and destroy the enemy’s base.

Play-to-earn model

The play-to-earn (P2E) model combines reward and entertainment within the game through the help of blockchain technology. Here, players are rewarded in the form of digital assets such as crypto tokens or non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in exchange for their time and effort in playing the game. All the in-game purchases and rewards are owned by the player and will have value outside of the game, even if the game is no longer available.

Here’s an article that will help you understand everything about how play to earn works. You might also be interested in earning money by playing games with Play It Forward DAOa huge crypto gamers guild that offers scholarships for P2E gamers in various trending NFT blockchain games.

Take a look at some of the most popular P2E games below:

Axie Infinity

Axie Infinity is an NFT-based online game developed by Sky Mavis. In the game, you will collect and mint tokens by battling and breeding the creatures called Axies. You have to wait for 14 days to cash out your earned tokens.

An in-game economy is present within the game, where you can trade, buy and sell resources. Virtual lands and other in-game assets can also be bought as NFTs, which you can sell on the marketplace. To play and earn in Axie Infinity, you have to invest in a decent team of Axies.


Pegaxy is a P2E horse racing game where you can get rewards by participating and winning in PvP races using NFT horses called Pega. To play, you need to have a Pega, which you can buy on Pegaxy’s marketplace. Once you enter a race, you will have one minute to evaluate the track’s variables and fit gear to your Pega. You can breed and feed your horses to increase your chances of winning or sell them for a profit.

Blockchain Monster Hunt

Inspired by Pokemon Go and other monster battling titles, Blockchain Monster Hunt is a P2E game where you explore a host of locations in search of blockchain monsters. Each block on the BCM Hunt blockchain has unique monsters with distinct abilities. Your goal is to hunt those monsters and use them for battling and trading.


CyBall is a soccer-inspired crypto game that features NFTs called CyBlocs. CyBlocs can be bought, battled, upgraded, sold, and traded. The game adopts turn-based card gameplay with strategy and simulation elements where your goal is to score as many points as possible with each match.

What does the future of gaming look like?

Gaming is part of the entertainment industry and it will always be. The good news is that a plethora of additional features are being incorporated into games. From being a mere source of entertainment, games are now a major source of income as well. A great help in the adoption of P2E games is the popularity of crypto gaming guilds.

P2E games’ prohibitive cost of entry led to the formation of crypto gaming guilds. These guilds rent out assets to new players so they can start to play and earn at no initial cost. If you want to ride with the P2E wave but don’t want to invest real money, try joining a crypto gaming guild like what Play It Forward DAO offers.

About Play It Forward DAO

Play It Forward DAO is a metaverse eco-system builder with a focus on Web3 game investment and a large-scale guild of 3,000+ gamers (Railings University) across the Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

The company aims to provide broad access to play-to-earn gaming by educating, empowering, and integrating underprivileged communities into the P2E industry. PIF DAO is positioned to be the growth engine of a Plug-and-Play metaverse by allowing its members to invest, play, learn and earn.


As technology advances, the way games are distributed and played is changing as well. Now, developers have found a way to let gamers enjoy and reap financial rewards from games. With the new models, such as play-to-earn, players are starting to realize the value of their time and effort in gaming. Hopefully, this will continue as the Metaverse allows for more gaming opportunities for players.

Play It Forward DAO Social Media Links:

Website | Twitter | Discord | Telegram | Facebook | LinkedIn