With or without a token? Choosing an economic
model for a game
A common problem for projects is deciding whether to launch their game with or without a token. Most projects that come to us primarily believe that a token is necessary for them without fully understanding the benefits or problems they will face. This issue must be explored to understand whether a project needs a token.

Let's look at the history

At the dawn of GameFi, when games were just beginning to integrate into Web 3, most used an economic model with a token. The motivation for different projects varied. In some cases, the token was convenient: easy value transfer, instant liquidity for the player, and all the benefits of Web 3. In other cases, the token served as a means of speculation, where the goal was to make money on traders and inexperienced "noobs", while the game and players created the illusion of a lively project and the usefulness of the token.

Both faced the problem of directly linking in-game value to a speculative instrument. Using a single token in the model led to a proportional increase in in-game value and a high entry barrier during a pump, whether natural or artificial. But this was not the biggest problem. The rollback was even worse: the dump led to a significant loss of assets by players and disappointment in the project's payback and future. The massive outflow of players led to the death of the project. The lifespan of such projects ranged from 2 to 12 months, and profits came directly from the losses of players and traders due to speculation.

Subsequent projects employed more complex economic models, introducing 2 or more tokens, where one was used for in-game value, and one or several other tokens were used for exchange speculation. Such models were more "resilient", but ultimately led to the same result as with a single token, only slightly increasing the project's lifespan. This is due to the fact that the speculative token, although not entirely, still affects the value of in-game assets. It would be difficult to completely disconnect the token from the project, as traders targeting the project must believe in the profitability of their deals. To do this, it is necessary to create a demand for the token among players while inflating hype and attracting new "hamster" investors. However, there are usually not enough ingame assets to create the necessary market pressure, leading to pump-and-dump schemes, creating extreme volatility and instability in the value of in-game assets, increasingly triggering a "death spiral".

Token Necessity

To determine the need for a token in a project, it is important to clearly understand how and with what the project creators want to make money. If the goal is to profit from the losses of traders and zero out all the previously arrived players, then launching with a

token is the preferred option. This approach allows for maximizing profits in the short term and reducing responsibility but inevitably leads to the project's death. If the project's goal is to make money directly from its product rather than speculation, the choice of the economic model becomes less trivial. What are the options?

1. Token only. Using tokens only, the project reduces its responsibility, but for long-term success, it is necessary to manage liquidity well, minimize volatility, and maintain the right corridor. This approach frees players, but the project is susceptible to economic attacks and multi-accounting. Reduced responsibility involves the ability to determine the depth of their obligations and default without losing the main funds.

2. NFT only. An economic model based solely on NFTs is preferable if the game is genuinely interesting, the team has clearly built marketing strategies and the project plans for long-term existence. In this case, the main difficulty lies in maintaining the value of ingame assets. The main tools for regulating demand will be marketing, gameplay, and community. The project's responsibility narrows down to ensuring demand for in-game assets for current players by attracting new players. If the project cannot fulfill its obligations, the funds collected from sales remain with the team, and financial losses are absent.

3. NFT + third-party token There is another economic model scheme when a hybrid between NFT and a token is used, but the token is from a third party. In this token, asset trading and reward payouts take place. This approach to the economic model is the most responsible since the issuance of a third-party token is not controlled by the project. In case of an increase in the player base, the project's obligations to them inevitably increase. The game depends on external market influences, especially if an unstable token is used.


Before choosing an economic model for your game, it is essential to understand how you plan to profit from it and how long the project should exist. The primary economic model is determined based on the abovementioned advantages and disadvantages. All other aspects, such as interaction, issuance, and distribution rules, are specific cases for each project. Comparing economic models from the perspective of "better-worse" is incorrect, as the choice may lean one way or the other for each situation.

Projects should approach the choice of an economic model with a "cool" head, relying on their needs rather than chasing hype or comparisons with other projects.

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