As Argentina’s inflation rate soared, so has the popularity of play-to-earn crypto games. It has become the number one spot in Latin America for playing virtual reality games to earn money.
Chile, the second-largest economy in South America, is ranked fifth internationally in playing games for income. Chile had 9,400 visits to Decentral Games year-to-date, up from just a few hundred in 2021. Brazil rose to the seventh spot in popularity for the games on the platform.
Profitable and Fun
Both countries are grappling with double-digit inflation, trailing only Venezuela in Latin America. In Argentina, prices are growing at above 50% annually and wages have grown below inflation for the last four years. In Brazil, inflation doubled in the last year to above 10% annually.
“Argentina and Brazil’s trends show the numbers will keep rising,” said Gabriel Mellace, Decentral Games head of investor relations. “Young people are not only looking for profitability. They’re also looking for fun.”
Within Latin America, Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela are the countries with the most users in Axie Infinity. Players earn tokens by winning battles that have been credited with kicking off a gaming craze. Latin Americans usually play on behalf of Americans because they cannot afford to open their own accounts, according to Mauricio Ramos, Axie’s head of Latin America.
Several gaming platforms, including Decentral Games, Axie Infinity, and Sandbox require users to have an NFT to play. Users typically buy “NFT delegations,” which are NFT rentals. In Decentral Games, for example, users need to have an NFT worth $5,200 to play. It’s too expensive for Argentines and Brazilians to buy themselves, Mellace said. Instead, they play on behalf of Americans and Germans.
That’s the case of Franco Villaflor, a 28-year-old DJ. He plays poker in the metaverse on behalf of an American man for three hours a day. It has allowed him to make as much as $1,500 a month, equal to what he makes as a DJ. That’s after giving 40% of the proceeds to the owner of the NFT.
To be sure, the popularity of pay-to-earn games in emerging markets isn’t new. Growth in Axie Infinity is fastest in Asia, says Yat Siu. He is the founder of Animoca Brands, which owns Sandbox. Latin America has climbed to represent 25% of users globally and is now the second-fastest growth area.
Paid via Crypto Assets
For Argentines, there’s an added benefit of making money through these games. Because the money is paid via crypto assets in accounts abroad. This allows them to circumvent capital controls and control how much they bring into the country.
Javier Espeche plays poker three hours a day in the metaverse on behalf of an American man. He makes six times more money than from his job working as a pet furniture maker.
“My mother doesn’t understand how I can spend my time playing games instead of doing something fruitful,” Espeche, 34, said. “But what’s the point of working hard if I can earn more like this?”