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Crypto Coach: How to make money playing P2E games

Play-to-earn games, or P2E games, are gaining popularity despite a pullback in the crypto marketplace, and for good reason: Gamers can still earn money while racking up points. The Crypto Coach shows you how to get started.
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Written by Steven Warren, Contributing Writer on
Reviewed by Marc Wojno
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Benji Bananas/Animoca Brands

A few weeks ago, I was looking for a summer project for my children where they could play a video game and make money. I believed I could find the right project that would enable my boys to earn some cash by playing a game on their iPhones. (They play games for free every day, so why not incentivize them to play for money?) 

So (drumroll)…

Recently, I "aped" into my first play-to-earn (P2E) game and became a liquidity provider for Primate-Ape. I'll get to how I did it shortly (and how you can as well), but first…

What are play-to-earn (P2E) games?

Play-to-earn games use blockchain technology that enables you to receive payment in cryptocurrency from gameplay. Gamers under the P2E model can earn money from playing the games or performing services in the gaming universe using cryptocurrency. This unique community-driven business model gives the gamer the opportunity to collaborate more openly among gamers and developers to make contributions to the game.

What makes crypto gaming different from traditional video games is that gamers can own their in-game assets and turn them into fiat money, swap for other cryptocurrencies or join a liquidity pool -- cryptocurrency that's contained in a smart contract to be used later to create liquidity for transactions -- in addition to NFTs. So, for example, any item in a game that is deemed as having value -- be it a sword, an amulet, or whatever digital MacGuffin helps you ratchet up points -- can be tokenized as an NFT and traded initially. It may cost money upfront initially, but you can always see what the rate of return is. (For a deeper dive into the workings of P2E gaming and GameFi, check out this primer from Citi.)

In my research for an inexpensive P2E game, I came across Benji Bananas which is a mobile video game you can download from the App Store or Google Play Store for your iPhone or Android, respectively. Benji Bananas is a freemium, or free-to-play, mobile game from Animoca Brands. The game is simple: Make Benji leap from one vine to another across the jungle while collecting bananas. With a game this easy to play, you can imagine how super addictive it can be. And it's super popular: It has more than 50 million downloads so far.

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Benji Bananas/Animoca Brands

Buying into Benji

Animoca Brands is in the process of converting its free-to-play mobile game into a P2E game. Soon, playing Benji Bananas will earn you $Primate coin, which can be swapped for $Ape or be used to enter $Primate -- $Ape liquidity pools.  

To participate in the P2E aspect of the game (not released yet) and the rewards campaign, you must first purchase a Membership Pass on OpenSea (the eBay of NFTs). To create an OpenSea account, you need a crypto wallet such as a MetaMask or Coinbase Wallet. Browse to Opensea.io and select "Create." Choose an applicable wallet and follow the process before buying, trading, and/or selling NFTs. (For detailed instruction on how to create an OpenSea account, visit OpenSea's Help Center.) You can choose to edit and populate your profile or remain anonymous.

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OpenSea

If you purchased a membership pass, the first reward campaign airdrop happens weekly for four weeks. Airdrop 1 happened the first week of June, and Airdrop 2 happened on June 6. Airdrop 3 happened June 14, and the last airdrop for week 4 will happen the week of June 20. The next focus is on the P2E aspect of the game. 

In the context of cryptocurrencies and the blockchain-based GameFi industry, an airdrop (as the name suggests) is the en masse dissemination of free tokens (coins) by developers of a new blockchain startup, project or service to members of the project's community, primarily for marketing purposes and raising awareness. It's an effective strategy to call attention to the project, like receiving a free meal card in the mail for a new restaurant opening in the neighborhood. 

For more information on the Benji Bananas airdrops, check out this article on Medium.com.

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Benji Bananas/Animoca Brands

To purchase a pass on Opensea, you need to set up and configure a MetaMask account -- a hot wallet service available through a web browser extension or smartphone app. To set up a MetaMask wallet, simply download the software from its official website onto your device of choice. Once downloaded, select "Get Started" to create a wallet, then create (and confirm) your 12-word seed phrase. After you safely secured your backup seed phrase, you'll have access to your new MetaMask wallet, but before you can buy, send, or swap crypto, you'll be required to identify your public address (your "home address") that you can share with people and platforms, as well a familiarize yourself with MetaMask's core functions of buying, sending, and swapping. Finally, fund your wallet with your chosen amount of ether (Ethereum's native cryptocurrency) that is used for transaction fees -- aka "gas" fees. And that's it!

MetaMask is interoperable with practically all Ethereum-based platforms and can connect to more than 3,700 dApps and Web3 services. And because it's a "hot" wallet -- which means it's always connected to the internet -- you can move crypto assets any time. 

Also: Crypto Coach: How to protect your seed phrase

Once you have created a MetaMask account and purchased your Benji Bananas Membership pass, you can browse to Benji Bananas, connect your account, and run through the know-your-customer (KYC) validation process.

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Benji Bananas/Animoca Brands

I went through this process a couple of weeks ago and was in the first snapshot to get an airdrop of their token $Primate. 

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Benji Bananas/Animoca Brands

Note: When it comes to taxes, airdrops are considered income, so make sure to account for it with the tax man. See my column, How to account for your crypto trades to the tax man.     

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Metamask

Animoca brands will drop 18 million $Primate in phases and incorporate the P2E portion of the game. All you must do to get started is purchase a pass and be in an upcoming snapshot to start getting rewards. You must run through their KYC in order to be eligible for the rewards campaign. The airdrop campaign consists of four snapshots weekly. We are currently on the fourth and final airdrop for season 1 of the rewards campaign.   

As I mentioned earlier, P2E games can cost money upfront initially, which is why it's important to always see what the rate of return is. For example, I purchased a Benji pass for $200, but I've gotten back $300 in $Primate coin so far, and then I added it to the liquidity pool with some Ape coin to earn even money. The pass was free for me. The beautiful thing is I can sell the pass on Opensea when I'm ready to do so. 

Bottom line: Research the pass before purchasing to see how you can make your money back.

One caveat to keep in mind: Cryptocurrency is a very volatile and speculative market, and crypto coins may fluctuate wildly. Only invest what you can afford to lose. Before investing, do your own research and have an exit plan.

And now, for some fun

Let's take this a step further. Once you own $Primate, you can become a liquidity provider and stake your Primate-Ape tokens on Sushiswap and earn $Primate and $Sushi Rewards for providing liquidity for Primate and Ape. 

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Benji Bananas/Animoca Brands

In this scenario, I purchased a Benji Bananas membership pass, which will pay for itself with airdropped rewards in Primate that I'm receiving weekly. In addition, I can now earn more $Primate and $Sushi for becoming a liquidity provider. (See this Medium article for instructions on how to become a Liquidity Provider.)

Currently, I can receive a 317% annualized return on my investment. This annualized return can change daily. The current rate of return, as of June 16, is 198%.

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Benji Bananas/Animoca Brands

Within the first 15 minutes of entering the liquidity pool, I started earning $Primate and $Sushi coins.

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Benji Bananas/Animoca Brands

I can harvest these rewards whenever I'm ready. Transaction fees will apply. The next part of my plan: Once the ability to earn $Primate from playing is available; I'll tell my boys and allow them to keep 80% of what they own. I'll take 20% to pay for my gas. 

Happy P2E-ing!

The information presented by the Crypto Coach and ZDNet is not intended to be individual investment advice and is not tailored to your personal financial situation. It does not constitute investment, legal, accounting, or tax advice, nor a recommendation to buy, sell or hold any particular investment. We encourage you to discuss investment options with your financial adviser prior to making any investments.

Steven Warren is a liquidity provider for Primate-Ape. He receives Sushi and Primate rewards for participating in the Primate/Ape liquidity pool.

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