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In Quezon, Philippines, a phenomenon is on the rise: the lucrative world of digital gaming and cryptocurrencies. Recently, a new internet cafe opened by Joniel Bon witnessed a flood of customers looking for digital profits. At least, that was the movement recorded by The New York Times team.

At NFT X Street, players gather around monitors to dive into popular titles like Heroes of Mavia and Nifty Island. But what sets them apart from ordinary players is their clear objective: to earn cryptocurrencies.

These games, known for their “play-to-earn” mechanics, promise to reward players with cryptocurrency tokens for completing daily challenges. And for many Filipinos, this is not just a form of entertainment, but a source of substantial income.

The revival of “Play-to-Earn” in the Philippines

The resumption of popularity of games that reward players with cryptocurrencies marks a long-awaited return after a phase of stagnation attributed to incidents such as hacks and economic collapses in popular titles such as Axie Infinity. The return of this model, known as “play-to-earn” (play to win), was highlighted by The New York Times, which noted the return of Philippine lan houses to effervescence.

Joniel Bon is an example of this resurgence. Its internet cafe is just one indication of the renaissance of cryptocurrencies in the country, which was once an epicenter of this trend. According to Chainalysis, approximately 30% of the world’s play-to-earn players are based in the Philippines.

One of the highlights among young people, the game Heroes of Mavia recently distributed free coins, in addition to NFT land, in an airdrop for users. Around 100,000 players benefited, which increased the price of MAVIA tokens by around 30% after distribution.

Other games, such as Nifty Island, Legends of Elysium and Illuvium also announced new airdrops, further increasing the interest of these young people.

However, the frenzy surrounding these activities also caught the attention of local authorities, concerned about regulating a rapidly expanding industry.

Impact of Cryptocurrencies in the Philippines

The advent of cryptocurrencies gained prominence in the Philippines during the Covid-19 pandemic, when video games became a profitable way to earn digital tokens, such as those from Axie Infinity, which began to be accepted in local establishments.

Although more than 40% of the country’s population does not have a bank account, the widespread availability of Internet access has allowed cryptocurrencies to spread, especially in rural areas.

However, the cryptocurrency bear market has brought with it challenges, with thousands of Filipinos losing their sources of income tied to crypto gaming. Scams have also proliferated, targeting both users and those who have invested time and resources in creating and participating in crypto gaming guilds.

While cryptocurrencies have proven to be an opportunity for many Filipinos, there are fears that a new industry failure could lead some to seek alternatives. The future of these digital currencies in the Philippines remains uncertain, but their resilience continues to defy expectations, shaping the economy and aspirations of many in the country.

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