Play-to-Own (P2O)

Why Trust Techopedia

What Is Play-to-Own (P2O)?

Play-to-own (P2O) is an evolution of the play-to-earn (P2E) blockchain-based gaming approach, gaining popularity in recent years. The P2O model for Web3 takes the concept of earning digital assets from gameplay introduced by P2E in a different direction, placing the emphasis on keeping ownership of the assets rather than selling them for a quick profit.


This addresses common concerns about P2E games, such as Axie Infinity, which have experienced problems with their inflationary tokenomics as a growing number of players rushed to sell the NFTs and cryptocurrencies they earned.

How Does Play-to-Own Work?

Play-to-own games are designed as the next stage in the development of Web3 gaming, with an emphasis on users being able to take ownership of their experience rather than a centralized game developer or studio.

Smart contracts on the blockchain define the way a game operates, creating in-game items and assets based on non-fungible tokens (NFTs). These tokens – which can be used as avatars, characters, tools, skills, or other aspects of gameplay – have dynamic characteristics that develop as the gamer plays through the game’s storyline or levels.

This approach creates less incentive to sell the NFTs, encouraging the player to own their gameplay experience as the assets are enhanced by their in-game activity.

In P2O games, players do not necessarily earn cryptocurrency rewards for their gameplay but instead, build up a collection of in-game assets with the NFT format providing verifiable ownership that defines their value.

What Is the Difference Between Play-to-Own and Play-to-Earn?

Play-to-own is a shift in focus on the user experience from play-to-earn games.

P2E is focused on providing financial incentives, as it enables gamers to earn rewards in the form of cryptocurrencies, NFTs, or other digital assets for their in-game activities, which they can then go on to sell for real-world assets such as fiat currency.

The key difference with P2O is intent, as it is more focused on the gaming experience. It aims to encourage gamers to hold the NFTs they earn from gameplay rather than selling them immediately for profit, as is often the case with P2E games. While players can sell their in-game assets, the main objective is for them to hold onto the assets as a way to own their experience.

Play-to-Own (P2O) Game Examples

There are several examples of gaming platforms that provide P2O opportunities for gamers.

Blocklords is a Web3 massively multiplayer online (MMO) medieval strategy game, using the P2O model. Players choose from different types of characters, from farmers to knights, lords, and ladies, or kings and queens.

Characters in Blocklords are NFTs that are minted as heroes that belong to the player. As the player progresses in the game, their hero evolves depending on their skills and actions, determining their path. Each NFT has unique statistics and traits. Each choice that players make shapes their character as well as the players and world around them, creating a personalized experience for each player.

Other examples of P2O games include the Monkey League soccer game, which allows gamers to own different types of NFTs and assets such as soccer players, stadiums, and spectators, and the property strategy game Upland, in which gamers can upgrade their citizen status as they play and increase the value of their digital assets.

The Bottom Line

Play-to-own is an innovative gaming model that advances the play-to-earn concept and empowers players to take ownership of their gameplay experience. By focusing on rewarding players with NFTs that provide a personalized experience and gain value through gameplay, P2O aims to create a more sustainable in-game economy than P2E.

In this way, players are encouraged to enjoy the game for its entertainment value rather than as a means to earn financial rewards.


Related Terms

Nicole Willing
Technology Journalist
Nicole Willing
Technology Journalist

Nicole is a professional journalist with 20 years of experience in writing and editing. Her expertise spans both the tech and financial industries. She has developed expertise in covering commodity, equity, and cryptocurrency markets, as well as the latest trends across the technology sector, from semiconductors to electric vehicles. She holds a degree in Journalism from City University, London. Having embraced the digital nomad lifestyle, she can usually be found on the beach brushing sand out of her keyboard in between snorkeling trips.