In little over a year, the concept of ‘X-to-Earn’ gained a strong foothold in the cryptocurrency and Web3 space, and has already evolved into numerous different incarnations.
Play-to-Earn (P2E), Move-to-Earn (M2E) and Watch-to-Earn (W2E) are just some of the ideas blockchain developers have come up with to incentivize the use of their products while at the same time rewarding the end user for their participation.
Yet of the three ways to earn cryptocurrency mentioned above, some have shown more likelihood for staying power than others, and each has their own unique quirks, features and potential shortcomings.
Because of the in-built financial apparatus native to NFT technology, blockchain games have emerged as a way to onboard new users to the Web3 space while also compensating them for their time and attention.
These games typically see players earn cryptocurrency rewards for playing and winning against either the AI or other players. In-game items such as weapons, armor and personal avatars can often be owned outright by the player and then traded on the open market.
P2E’s popularity can be seen in the thousands of games that are currently live in the blockchain gaming space right now, but very few have succeeded in creating immersive gameplay. The vast majority of P2E games involve relatively little gameplay, and instead see players engaged in simple one-click routines that have more in common with yield farming than actual gaming.
On the surface, Move-to-Earn would appear to be a noble effort at stoking engagement in the Web3 space by incentivizing users to engage in physical activities to earn cryptocurrency rewards.
M2E projects like STEPN (GMT) see users earn rewards for activities like walking, jogging and running. While the idea initially burst onto the scene with much fanfare, the concept of M2E also suffers from a few shortcomings. These apps often have an initial buy-in price, where special NFTs are needed to begin earning, thus outpricing potential users from the get-go.
What’s more, just like a new gym membership in the first week of January, the initial excitement of M2E apps often fails to be sustained. Expecting internet users to don their running shoes for any meaningful amount of time may just be asking too much in the long run.
Contrasting with the Move-to-Earn concept, the Watch-to-Earn sector doesn’t make undue physical demands of users but instead looks to reward them for something that most internet users do every day.
In the past few years, video content has emerged as the main communicative medium on the internet, but until now, the only people to be included in its revenue model are content creators and platform owners.
W2E expands the revenue model to include the people who make video content so popular: the audience. W2E is exemplified by projects like XCAD Network, which integrates with existing video sites like YouTube and Twitch to generate rewards for users who watch and share videos, and access special perks around the creator, bridging the gap between the creator and the fan.
W2E also benefits content creators themselves, who can generate additional earnings on top of their YouTube ad revenue by fostering greater engagement with fans. In the case of XCAD, content creators can also mint unique NFTs based on memorable moments from their videos and livestreams and auction them off to their fanbase.
Watch-to-Earn marks a genuine integration of Web3 ideals with arguably the most popular activity on the internet today: watching videos.
The ‘X-to-Earn’ space in the cryptosphere continues to grow, and we’ll no doubt see yet more iterations of the concept emerge in the coming years. Right now, Watch-to-Earn is showing the most promise as a genuine application of Web3 technology in the existing Web2 arena.