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The Best Play-to-Earn Crypto Games in 2023

There’s no such thing as a free lunch, as the old saying goes. Yet in crypto, you can at least eat subsidized lunches, particularly when delving into the world of play-to-earn video games.

As the term suggests, these are games which reward users with cryptocurrency in return for their time and playing (and often for their own spending). Having come into prominence with early examples such as CryptoKitties and Axie Infinity, such games have proliferated in recent years, covering a wide variety of genres and offering a wide variety of crypto-based rewards (including non-fungible tokens).

However, not all play-to-earn apps are created equal, so in this article we’ll round up some of the best, explaining how they work and whether they offer gamers a good ‘deal’ in terms of the rewards they provide. That way, you may be better placed to determine how much of the free lunch you’ll be paying for yourself.



As a game, CryptoKitties’ mechanics are fairly basic, involving little more than buying digital cats, choosing to breed them with each other, and then selling them and/or their offspring. It’s as simple as that, with the potential for earning coming from the possibility of breeding rarer types of CryptoKitties, which could be sold for a profit.

Of course, to get started you actually have to spend ethereum (ETH) to buy a CryptoKitty or two, meaning that you certainly won’t be receiving a free lunch. And since the game’s launch in 2017, daily sales of CryptoKitties have fallen from around 52,000 to 100, with prices also falling substantially (research indicated that players may even lose money). That said, the game still produces an expensive sale from time to time, including the purchase of Founder Cat #71 for 60 ETH (c. $111,000) in April 2022.

Axie Infinity

Axie Infinity

Source: Axie Infinity/Sky Mavis

Another major early entry in the play-to-earn genre, Axie Infinity also involves breeding creatures (the titular Axies) and selling them as NFTs, although it also includes turn-based battle gameplay that makes it deeper than CryptoKitties.

Also deepening Axie Infinity’s gameplay are its two main modes, Adventure Mode and Arena Mode. The former enables players to explore Axie Infinity’s game world and battle monsters and bosses with their Axies, earning Smooth Love Potion (one of the game’s native cryptocurrencies) along the way. Meanwhile, the latter mode pits players against each other, while also providing Smooth Love Potion in return for winning battles.

But as with CryptoKitties, players will need to spend ethereum in order to purchase their first Axies (which can cost anything from $1 to $10,000 or more), meaning that they may not earn that much money playing the game. And judging by the fact that the game’s active user count has gone from 2.5 million (in late 2021) to 250,000 in August 2022 (when data was last shared), it would seem that most players haven’t become wealthy.




Launched in 2018, Splinterlands is a blockchain-based card-battling and -trading game, with cards representing creatures that have various properties and attacks. Players battle each other using groups of six cards and a ‘summoner’ card that determines which element (e.g. water, fire) their six cards belong to, with winners receiving the native splintershards (SPS) token as a reward.

From an all-time high of $1.07 in July 2021 to a current price of $0.02093961, SPS has become less of a valuable reward with crypto’s descent into a bear market. On top of this, players have to purchase the game’s Spellbook — at a cost of around $10 — in order to start playing, so they will need to play the game for some time before they can expect to break even.

Gods Unchained

Gods unchained

Source: Gods Unchained/Immutable

Another card trading game, Gods Unchained has more of a focus on strategy than some of its peers, with players doing battle by assembling decks of 30 cards. Cards come with their own stats and abilities, and players have to use considerable tactical awareness to choose the right mix of cards in order to defeat their opponents.

As with other blockchain-based card trading games, each card is an NFT that can be bought and sold. At the same time, players receive native token GODS as a reward, with the amount received depending on their win rate and rank. As of writing, GODS is down by 98% from its all-time high of $8.80, set back in December 2021. That said, it’s one of the few big play-to-earn games that doesn’t require an initial payment to begin playing, so it may be more profitable than others.

My Neighbor Alice

My Neighbor Alice

Source: My Neighbor Alice

In a departure from card-trading and animal-breeding games, My Neighbor Alice involves purchasing and cultivating land, kind of like a blockchain-based version of Animal Crossing. Aside from developing virtual worlds, players can engage in various fun day-to-day activities, including farming and farming. They can also interact with other players and explore the worlds they create.

Most in-game items can be traded as NFTs, while My Neighbor Alice also has its own native token (ALICE), which can be used to purchase items and are also dispensed as rewards for completing certain activities. While ALICE is currently priced at $1.26, players do need to purchase land and other items to get the most out of the game, with plots of land costing 50 ALICE during the game’s first land auction.

Bitcoin Solitaire

Bitcoin Solitaire

Source: Apple App Store

While not as high-profile as some of the other games on this list, Bitcoin Solitaire provides players with the opportunity to receive actual bitcoin (BTC) as a reward for playing solitaire. You do not need to purchase anything to start playing the game, with the giving of BTC being funded by the game’s use of ads, which players will have to watch as they progress through the app.

Admittedly, the amount of bitcoin you’ll receive is fairly miniscule, at around a few hundred satoshis (about 0.000003 BTC) for two or three hours of gameplay. Still, it’s a little better than the amount of BTC provided by similar games (such as Club Bitcoin: Solitaire and Solitaire – Card Game 2023), and if you already like solitaire and have a BTC wallet handy, it’s probably worth a try.

Alien Worlds

Alien Worlds

Source: Dacoco/Alien Worlds

Set in 2055, Alien Worlds is a sci-fi play-to-earn crypto game where players explore a fictional universe and mine for a material known as Trilium, which is the game’s native token, TLM. On top of this, players can find in-game items such as tools and weapons, which are NFTs that can be traded.

While TLM has declined by 99% since April 2021, Alien Worlds doesn’t require an initial purchase and can be played simply by opening a wallet on, a platform for decentralized games.

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CryptoVantage Author Simon Chandler

About the Author

Simon Chandler

Simon Chandler is a journalist based in London. He writes about technology, markets and politics, and has bylines for Forbes, Digital Trends, CCN, Wired, TechCrunch, the Verge, the Sun, the New Internationalist, and TruthOut, among many others. His Twitter handle is @_simonchandler_

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