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Play Smart, Earn Safe. How to Protect Yourself from Play-to-Earn Scams

Cristina POPOV

March 22, 2024

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Play Smart, Earn Safe. How to Protect Yourself from Play-to-Earn Scams

The rise of play-to-earn (P2E) games has opened up new opportunities for gamers to earn real money while enjoying their favorite pastime.

However, like any emerging industry, the P2E space has also attracted its fair share of scammers looking to exploit unsuspecting players and steal their funds and personal data. In this article, we'll explore some common types of P2E scams and provide tips on how to spot and avoid them.

How Play-to-Earn games work

Play-to-earn is a business model based on blockchain technology: players can play a game and potentially earn cryptocurrency. Players can collect in-game assets like skins, cards, or a specific type of cryptocurrency. The more they play, the more assets they can gather and the more valuable they become. In traditional games, these assets have value only within the game. However, in play-to-earn games, they have real-world value. Players can reinvest them into the game or cash them out for profit.

There are several ways to earn money while playing games and some of them are:

1. Trading in-game tokens earned through achievements or received as a reward for other cryptocurrencies or fiat money on exchanges and marketplaces.

2. Collecting NFTs that represent unique game items or characters and selling them.

3. Staking or lending in-game coins to earn passive income (if this feature is available in the game you're playing).

4. Participating in governance and community activities related to game development and direction.

5. Competing in in-game tournaments that offer coins or NFTs as prizes.

6. Building on virtual land plots in a metaverse and charging admission.

Did you know?

The global Play-to-Earn NFT Games market size was valued at USD 3292.73 million in 2023.

By 2030, the market size is projected to reach USD 8856.95 million.

Most common Play-to-Earn scams

1. Rug Pull scam

This occurs when the developers behind a game or project suddenly abandon it and run away with the funds raised from players' investments. These scammers often hype up their projects, promising lucrative rewards and a thriving ecosystem, only to pull the plug once they've collected enough money.

2. Unrealistic returns on investments

Scammers often use the promise of extraordinary returns on investments within a game to lure players into their traps. Be cautious when you come across such schemes, especially if they sound too good to be true.

3. Fake games and wallets

Scammers may also create fake P2E games or wallets to steal players' funds or personal information. These fake platforms may look legitimate at first glance but are designed to lure players into entering their login credentials or making financial transactions.

4. Phishing scams

Phishing scams involve tricking players into revealing their login credentials or private keys by directing them to fake websites or using deceptive communication. Legitimate P2E platforms will never ask for sensitive information through unsolicited messages, so always verify the legitimacy of links and communications.

Last year, the FBI warned gamers against rising play-to-earn gaming scams

According to the FBI, scammers lured victims with the promise of impressive digital currency-earning opportunities on gaming platforms. The scammer approached the victims over the Internet and fakes a relationship to earn their trust over several weeks.

The scammers then instructed the victim to create a digital currency wallet and fund it before accessing the game, often claiming that larger funds will lead to more rewards.

However, once the victim stopped depositing funds, the scammers drained the victim's wallet using a malicious program activated upon joining the game. The FBI noted that this fraudulent scheme has cost residents millions of dollars in losses across the U.S.

Protecting Yourself from Play-to-Earn Scams

To avoid falling victim to P2E scams, it's essential to exercise caution and due diligence. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

1. Research thoroughly

Before investing in any P2E game or project, research the team, roadmap, and tokenomics. Check the official website, read reviews from reputable sources, and participate in community forums to gather insights from other players.

Look for red flags like anonymous developers, unrealistic promises, or a lack of transparency. Cross-check information from official sources and trusted community members. Be wary of unverified claims or promises made on social media or unofficial channels.

2. Use only reputable platforms

Stick to well-established and reputable P2E platforms with a proven track record and active communities. Legitimate P2E games are developed by reputable companies or individuals with a track record in the gaming industry. Verify the developers' credentials, check their previous projects, and ensure they have a transparent presence within the gaming community.

3. Create a dedicated gaming wallet

If you wish to participate in cryptocurrency-based gaming, create a unique wallet specifically for that game or gaming activities. This wallet isolates and protects your primary cryptocurrency assets if malicious actors compromise or access it.

4. Secure your assets

Use reputable wallets and keep your private keys and seed phrases safe. Never share sensitive information, such as login credentials, private keys, or personal details, with anyone claiming to be associated with a P2E platform. Legitimate platforms prioritize user security and never request such information through unsolicited channels.

Is your sensitive data already on the Internet at scammers' disposal? Find out with Bitdefender Digital Identity Protection. It is a powerful digital monitoring service that scours the Internet, including the dark web, to retrieve and analyze your personal data in real time. It alerts you promptly to any data leaks or incidents that could compromise your identity, empowering you to take proactive measures and safeguard your personal and financial security.

5. Secure transactions through official channels

When making transactions within P2E games, use official and secure channels provided by the platform. Avoid third-party websites or unofficial channels that may compromise the security of your transactions. Legitimate P2E platforms prioritize the safety of player transactions.

6. Report suspicious activities

If you encounter suspicious activity or believe you have come across a P2E scam, report it to the relevant authorities and the gaming community. Timely reporting helps protect other players and contributes to the collective effort to combat scams.

Play hard but safe

By staying informed, conducting thorough research, and exercising caution, you can navigate the P2E space safely and avoid falling victim to scams.

Scamio, our AI-powered scam detector, can also help you. Accessible for free on any device or operating system via your web browser or Facebook Messenger, Scamio empowers you to identify potential scams with ease. Simply provide a description, upload an image if necessary, and share a link, text, or QR code. Scamio's advanced algorithms will analyze the information and promptly alert you if it detects a scam.

Thus, you can make informed decisions, protect yourself from fraudulent schemes and have a safe and rewarding gaming experience.



Cristina POPOV

Cristina is a freelance writer and a mother of two living in Denmark. Her 15 years experience in communication includes developing content for tv, online, mobile apps, and a chatbot.

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