The play-to-earn video game model has gotten a great deal of attention over the past couple of years. Video gamers have long been victims of the ruthless freemium or “pay-to-win” business model that allows them to play for free but requires a major cash investment to actually progress in the game. With blockchain-based, play-to-earn games that’s no longer the case, as it’s now possible to earn cryptocurrency by completing daily challenges and tasks and then sell those tokens for real-world money.
The rise of P2E is driven in no small part by the popular game Axie Infinity, which has allowed some players to amass earnings of several thousand dollars per month. Axie Infinity is a card battle game where players acquire monsters and battle each other, earning crypto-based rewards for doing so. The game is so popular that according to Cryptoslam!, it raked in more than $4 billion in sales in February 2022 alone.
This promise of being able to earn money while having fun playing games is a tantalizing one and the concept is now being extended to other areas. Fitness fans, for instance, have flocked to apps like SweatCoin that rely on a similar economic model and provide the opportunity to “exercise-to-earn”.
As exciting as these models are, the play-to-earn and exercise-to-earn concepts are by their nature, fairly limited in their scope. Not everyone enjoys playing video games after all, and few who do, have what it takes to invest the time and effort required to actually make a living out of them. There are arguably even fewer fitness freaks around who are willing to stay in shape for what remains a relatively small income, especially when compared to what a personal trainer or a professional athlete can earn. So these use cases are unlikely to take the world by storm in the long run.
Rewarding Social Engagement
However, the emergence of P2E gaming has recently given rise to a far more promising concept that could potentially revolutionize the so-called “creator economy” that’s made up of thousands of young and upcoming “influencers” on social media.
The arrival of Taki has given birth to the fresh concept of “engage-to-earn”, where social media users can earn rewards simply for engaging with other users on the platform.
Taki is an emerging blockchain-based social media network that sees its users rewarded for liking, sharing, commenting on, and creating their own content. Though the platform is yet to launch, the potential is all too clear, with Taki already claiming more than 600,000 users who have signed up to its waitlist. It has also raised $3.45 million in a seed funding round led by Solana Ventures CoinDCX, OKX Blockdream Ventures, and others, in addition to a $360,000 raise via the Initial Exchange Offering launch of its TAKI cryptocurrency token.
The early success of Taki is directly attributed to its unique value proposition, with its intention to create the world’s first true engage-to-earn crypto community.
“We are pioneering a new #EngageToEarn model where casual users can earn crypto for just showing up and consuming content, interacting with friends, and making new friends, just as they normally would,” Taki explains in a post on Medium.
The great thing about Taki is its promise to reward both content creators and casual users alike for creating and engaging with content. Creators will be able to receive tips from their followers and even create their own, branded CreatorCoin. However, Taki has also created a unique tip-sharing mechanism called Gold Taki, where user’s coin holders can revenue share tips received. So it becomes possible for Taki users to buy the native token (CreatorCoin) of their favorite creator, and profit from that person’s future success if and when they make it big.
Taki, which is built on the RLY Protocol on Solana and will be available through a mobile app, will also provide users with daily challenges to complete. For example, users will need to comment on a certain number of posts, share videos, and add new friends each day. In return for this engagement, they’ll receive rewards in TAKI coins.
A Superior Model?
The engage-to-earn model has serious potential and could well end up being bigger than the P2E gaming concept that has already generated billions of dollars in value. For all the promise of P2E, the concept is beginning to flag a little. Notably, the very idea of P2E has met with fierce resistance from a big section of the traditional video game player community. They contend that P2E games aren’t actually fun to play, which is the entire point of video games.
“P2E is basically a job. It’s not fun,” explained UnixGaming CEO Mirko Basil. “You do something and earn rewards. Then people cash out their earnings over and over.”
The issue is that P2E games just aren’t very entertaining, certainly not compared to modern games such as Fortnite, FIFA, and Grand Theft Auto. Rather than gameplay, the focus is strictly on making money, meaning that players don’t always enjoy grinding through various challenges on a daily basis. On the contrary, many see it as a chore.
Such complaints are unlike to happen with Taki given the impressive community it has amassed so far. Indeed, most social media influencers have little love for the platforms they use to reach their audiences. It’s well known that today’s big platforms keep for themselves a huge portion of the revenue that today’s biggest influencers generate. Content creators on Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok pull millions of users onto those platforms, yet they receive only a fraction of the advertising revenue their content generates. In fact, most social media influencers have to resort to sponsorships and paid posts with brands to generate any real income. In contrast, Taki creators will be in full control of the revenue their content generates.
Another big flaw with the P2E model is that many games’ tokenomics are based on the assumption that a constant stream of new players will sign up to the game, in order to replace the revenue lost by players who lose and quit playing. In the long run, such a model is unsustainable. On the other hand, the creator economy is already estimated to be worth more than $100 billion a year, and growing fast. If platforms like Taki can successfully cut out the middleman – which means the likes of Instagram and Facebook – that means there will be plenty to go around to sustain the ecosystem for many years to come.
Taki’s decentralized nature brings other benefits too. Unlike those centralized platforms, Taki is governed by a decentralized autonomous organization, or DAO, which means that any decisions are made by the community of users in a swift fashion. This eliminates the ugly specter of censorship prevalent on Twitter et al. Decentralization also means that creators will earn their rewards instantly, with any donations they’re sent landing directly into their wallets within seconds.
For what it’s worth, Taki isn’t alone in trying to bring the engage-to-earn model to fruition. Its biggest rival in the space at present appears to be Chingari, the popular Indian video-sharing app that’s often compared to TikTok. With Chingari, users can earn rewards in that platform’s native GARI token each time their videos are viewed. In addition, they can also earn smaller rewards for viewing other users’ videos.
A better known project that’s pursuing a slightly different take on engage-to-earn is the Brave Browser, which enables users to earn Basic Attention Tokens (BAT) by selecting an option to view advertisements while they browse the web. The ads appear as push notifications rather than showing up embedded in web pages and are billed as being more relevant and privacy-preserving. Through Brave, it, therefore, becomes possible to earn by engaging with any website.
Although Taki isn’t the only engage-to-earn player in town, it’s hard to bet against the platform establishing itself as one of the early leaders in the space. As Taki co-founder Sakina Arsiwala notes in a recent Op-Ed in The Times of India, the platform will benefit from the already “enormous public interest” in cryptocurrencies among citizens of its home nation.
“India is witnessing the advent of new-age social media networks, and just as any other social media channel, these networks encourage people to create, consume, share, and build a range of content,” Arsiwala said. “By creating social media platforms that offer a secure and simple crypto experience, innovators in India are creating a social economy, opening better avenues for earning from digital content creation and engagement.”
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