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Could a play-to-earn data-driven platform be the new big thing?

Playio, the ‘reward based mobile gaming platform’ previously launched in South Korea, but how legitimate is its business model?
Could a play-to-earn data-driven platform be the new big thing?
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As we’ve previously reported with cases such as the Gaming Nation platform in Thailand, gamers are very value-conscious. Storefronts like Steam practically made their reputation on offering fantastic deals, whilst Epic Games has tried to compete by offering free games from both indie and AAA developers. You’ve probably heard of games that claim to offer real money or real rewards for simply playing games, however ludicrous they may sound. But a new arrival on the scene in the US called Playio claims that you can earn real-life rewards simply by playing games.

According to their official English blog “Through a system of gems and coins, players can turn in-game play time into real world rewards…These prizes include Starbucks gift cards, Amazon gift cards, and even gaming consoles like the PlayStation 5.” All the sort of things you might have heard before, but Playio seems legit, so how would a business model like this work?

Digging in

The obvious answer is data, the most important currency in the modern digital ecosystem. Preferences, personal data and other metrics inform advertisers, who are the biggest investors into the day-to-day operations of nearly any digital platform. User data is tremendously valuable to advertisers and the developers of games, and it seems the Playio platform intends to capitalise on that.

According to their blog “Playio’s goal is to turn players’ analytics into valuable information.” It’s also notable that nowhere does Playio say that this will be direct monetary compensation. Rather the indication from their official channels is this sort of reward programme is more in the form of their “prizes” and indirect benefits.

“Game companies use Playio to check gaming analytics of, and advertise their games to the right audience. With the gaming company’s support, Playio converts in-game achievements into real life rewards for the players.” Essentially, Playio forms a financial relationship with developers in return for the valuable data that their customers produce. Although many players would likely be sceptical about the idea of real-world rewards for playtime, Playio clearly thinks they can make the concept credible enough to promote to a wider audience beyond Korea.

It’s also especially notable that Playio is only available on Android at the moment in the US. With how protective Apple is of data gathering on their platform, this would likely be virtually impossible for Playio to break into. Can the concept work and be credible? Only time will tell.