What are decentralized finance (DeFi) Games?

Last Updated:
May 19, 2023
What are decentralized finance (DeFi) Games - Feature Image

In this article, we'll explore what DeFi games are, how they work, and why they're gaining popularity. These games provide a unique blend of entertainment and investment opportunity, allowing players to earn real-world value as they play.

In the intersection of finance, gaming, and technology, a new genre of games is emerging – decentralized finance (DeFi) games. These games provide a unique blend of entertainment and investment opportunity, allowing players to earn real-world value as they play. The concept may be new to many, but it is rapidly reshaping the gaming industry. In this article, we'll explore what DeFi games are, how they work, and why they're gaining popularity.

Defining Decentralized Finance (DeFi)

Before diving into DeFi games, it's important to understand the concept of decentralized finance. DeFi is a movement that uses blockchain technology to create financial systems that operate without central authorities like banks or governments. DeFi applications (or "dapps") aim to democratize finance by allowing anyone, anywhere, to participate in financial markets and services. Examples of DeFi services include lending platforms, decentralized exchanges, and yield farming.

The Rise of DeFi Games

Now, imagine combining the financial opportunities of DeFi with the entertainment value of video games. That's exactly what DeFi games do. Also known as "play-to-earn" games, these platforms allow players to earn tokens that have real-world value.

In traditional video games, players can spend money on in-game items, but they typically can't sell these items for real money. In DeFi games, however, the in-game economy is tokenized, meaning that items and resources within the game are represented by tokens on a blockchain. These tokens can be bought, sold, or traded on decentralized markets, allowing players to earn real-world value from their in-game activities.

How DeFi Games Work

DeFi games are built on blockchain platforms like Ethereum or Binance Smart Chain. They utilize smart contracts, which are self-executing contracts with the terms of the agreement directly written into code. Smart contracts enable the creation of token economies, where in-game items and resources are tokenized and can be bought, sold, or traded.

In a DeFi game, players can earn tokens through various activities such as completing tasks, winning battles, or farming resources. These tokens can then be used within the game to purchase upgrades or traded on a decentralized exchange for other tokens or cryptocurrencies. Some games even offer staking or yield farming opportunities, where players can earn additional tokens by providing liquidity to the game's economy.

Examples of DeFi Games

One of the most notable examples of a DeFi game is Axie Infinity, a Pokémon-inspired digital pet universe where players can earn tokens by battling, breeding, and trading digital creatures known as Axies. As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, Axie Infinity had a thriving player base and a high-volume marketplace for trading Axies and other in-game items.

Moving forward to 2023, we have seen the rise of new exciting DeFi games. Here are some examples:

  • Illuvium: An open-world fantasy battle game built on the Ethereum blockchain. Illuvium combines elements of player-vs-player combat and open-world exploration, offering various collecting and trading features for both casual gamers and die-hard DeFi fans​​.
  • Star Atlas: A grand strategy space-themed video game that operates on the Solana blockchain. Star Atlas is a massively multiplayer metaverse where players can exchange, acquire, and create non-fungible tokens (NFTs) within the universe, mirroring the tangible nature and value of real-world assets​​.
  • MOBOX: An innovative platform that rewards community participation and engagement. MOBOX combines the best elements of yield farming DeFi and gaming NFTs, creating a Free to Play and Play to Earn ecosystem on the Binance Smart Chain (BSC) ecosystem​​.
  • X World Games: A decentralized gaming ecosystem founded in 2019 and built on the Binance Smart Chain. It features a multiplayer builder game where players and creators can acquire X World Games (XWG) tokens through a variety of games. The X World Games ecosystem is comprised of the game itself, a marketplace, a card creator, and a card collector​​.
  • CyberKongz: Originally launched as a gorilla-themed NFT collection, CyberKongz has evolved into a mature community project with numerous use cases and niche features. Owners of CyberKongz gain access to private groups, airdrops, and alpha, and the platform has developed into a play-to-earn NFT game​​.

What is the difference between DeFi games and NFT games?

While both DeFi games and NFT games represent intersections of blockchain technology and gaming, they emphasize different aspects and offer unique features.

NFT Games

NFT stands for Non-Fungible Tokens, which are unique digital assets verified using blockchain technology. In the context of gaming, NFTs are often used to represent in-game items or characters. These digital assets are unique, verifiable, and owned by the player, making them different from traditional in-game items, which are usually controlled by the game's developer or publisher.

For instance, in an NFT game, a player could own a unique weapon or character, proven to be theirs via the blockchain. They can trade, sell, or hold onto this NFT as they see fit, giving them more control over their in-game assets. NFT games can operate on a variety of business models, but the common thread is the use of NFTs to give players ownership over in-game items.

DeFi Games

DeFi games, on the other hand, incorporate aspects of Decentralized Finance into the gaming experience. This can involve the use of cryptocurrencies, yield farming, staking, and other DeFi concepts within the game's economy. DeFi games often use tokens that can be earned by playing the game and then used within the game or traded on external markets. This "play-to-earn" model can create opportunities for players to earn real-world value from their in-game activities.

While NFTs can and often do play a role in DeFi games (for example, in-game items might be represented as NFTs that can be bought, sold, and traded), the primary focus of a DeFi game is on the incorporation of decentralized financial systems.

Overlap Between NFT and DeFi Games

It's important to note that these categories can overlap, and many games incorporate elements of both. A game could use NFTs to represent unique in-game items while also employing a DeFi model that allows players to earn tokens and participate in a decentralized in-game economy. The blockchain gaming space is highly innovative and rapidly evolving, with developers continuously exploring new ways to incorporate blockchain technology into gaming.

How do people make money playing DeFi games?

laying DeFi games can offer various avenues for players to earn money, creating a "play-to-earn" model that stands in contrast to the traditional "pay-to-play" model of most video games. Here are some ways players can earn from DeFi games:

1. In-Game Rewards

  • Many DeFi games reward players with in-game cryptocurrencies for completing certain tasks or achievements. These tokens can often be exchanged for other cryptocurrencies or fiat money on various exchanges.

2. Trading In-Game Assets

  • In DeFi games, in-game assets like characters, items, or land are often tokenized as NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens). These NFTs can be bought, sold, or traded on various marketplaces, allowing players to earn money by selling valuable or desirable assets they've acquired or created in the game.

3. Staking

  • Some DeFi games have staking mechanisms, where players can 'stake' their in-game tokens in a smart contract to earn interest or dividends over time. This is similar to depositing money in a savings account and earning interest.

4. Yield Farming 

  • In some cases, DeFi games might allow players to participate in yield farming or liquidity mining. This involves providing liquidity to the game's decentralized exchange or marketplace, and earning fees or rewards in return.

5. Guilds or DAOs 

  • In some games, players can join together in guilds or decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) to pool resources and share profits. For example, a group of players might pool their money to invest in high-level characters or valuable in-game land, and then share the profits from these investments.

It's important to note that while these methods can provide real income, they also come with risks. The value of in-game tokens can be volatile, and there's always the risk of loss. Furthermore, DeFi games can have complex rules and mechanics that require a significant investment of time and energy to understand. As with any investment, it's crucial to do thorough research and understand the risks before getting involved.

The Impact of DeFi Games

DeFi games have the potential to revolutionize both the gaming and financial industries. By tokenizing in-game economies, they can create new financial opportunities for players, especially in regions where traditional financial services are inaccessible or unaffordable.

However, like all emerging technologies, DeFi games also come with risks. The value of in-game tokens can be highly volatile, and there's always the risk of smart contract bugs or other technical issues. Furthermore, the regulatory landscape for DeFi and blockchain gaming is still developing, so players should always do their research and understand the risks before investing in DeFi games.


DeFi games represent an exciting new frontier in the world of gaming. By combining the potential financial rewards of DeFi with the fun and engagement of video games, these platforms are redefining what it means to play games. As this industry continues to develop, it will be fascinating to see how DeFi games evolve and what new opportunities they create for players around the world.