Mint One Podcast, Episode 32: Has P2E Hurt Developing Nations?

There have been some heavy criticisms of Play-to-Earn (P2E) games since crypto’s sharp downturn and the consequent bear market. But how fair are they?

Token Gamer and NFT Insider have decided to combine forces to launch a weekly podcast, Mint One (formerly WAX Lyrical). John Nichols of NFT Insider and I will discuss a new topic every week, as well as feature special guests. If there’s a topic you’d like us to cover, make sure you let us know through the Token Gamer Discord or Twitter, or the NFT Insider Discord or Twitter.

In last week’s episode, John and I took a look at how Web3 culture has changed since crypto crept into the limelight back in 2008. This week, we take a look at articles calling out games such as Axie Infinity for hurting developing nations.

Episode 32: Has P2E Hurt Developing Nations?

The emergence of P2E games felt swift and in terms of gaming as a whole, it was. However, it started slowly, taking a few years before the first breakthrough example garnered the attention it needed to become a use case. To this day, when you say “P2E to somebody, if they have a clue what you’re talking about, they’ll likely bring up Axie Infinity. How did it become so successful?

Well, in part, it was because of the positive role it had in the Philippines. During COVID-19, many Filipinos had their incomes hit hard and that put an enormous strain on families. Amidst the torrid period, the most unlikely savior emerged: a browser-based blockchain game. Axie Infinity grew a small playerbase in the Philippines who realized they could make hundreds of dollars per month playing. That wasn’t just a nice bonus, that was, in some cases, a lifeline. A documentary covered this from the end of 2020 to early 2021 and it’s one I reference often:

To many of us, this felt like one of the first true success stories of Web3, alongside borderless transfers of wealth. Then, as crypto entered its cyclical bear market, this income evaporated for many gamers. This was disappointing news for many of us playing blockchain games, but damaging for anyone who had used the new genre as a liferaft. As a result, I started to see criticisms raised of P2E for leaving some players in dire straits. The one that prompted this podcast episode was: A Crypto Game Promised to Lift Filipinos Out of Poverty. Here’s What Happened Instead

The title does not suggest a balanced piece of journalism, and on that charge, it largely delivers. It is a horrifying story of a young man going through extreme adversity and it appeals to your emotions (successfully). But, the question of whether P2E games have hurt Filipinos or citizens of developing nations who used them to improve their lives (or even survive in some cases), ought not to be an emotional discussion, but a logical one.

This is a sensitive topic and one that was difficult to pick apart in a way that was both exhaustive and senstivie. As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject and any experience you have in it.

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Robert Baggs
Robert Baggs
Full-time professional crypto writer and Editor of Token Gamer. Co-host of the Mint One Podcast. Obsessed with MMOs. London based. Primary holdings: WAXP, ENJ, & BTC. Secondary holdings: ETH, GALA, & MATIC

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