Cryptocurrency & Blockchain

How to Launch a Successful In-Game Currency

The rise of in-game economies, with titans like Fortnite (generating over $9 billion in 2020 alone), Clash of Clans (surpassing $10 billion in lifetime revenue), and World of Warcraft (holding a massive $11 billion subscriber base), has revolutionized the gaming industry. A well-designed in-game currency is no longer a bonus, but a key driver of success. It fuels player engagement by offering goals and rewards, while also generating revenue for developers, creating a win-win scenario.

What is In-Game Currency?

In-game currency is a type of virtual money used within video games to purchase items, tools, upgrades, and other game-related content.

Two Sides of the Coin: Hard vs. Soft Currency

In-game currencies are generally categorized into two types:

  • Soft Currency: This is the workhorse, earned entirely through gameplay activities like completing quests, achieving milestones, or participating in events. It injects a sense of accomplishment and motivates players to keep playing (e.g., Fruit Ninja’s starfruit for power-ups).

  • Hard Currency: This type is usually purchased with real money and used to acquire rare items, bypass limitations, or gain exclusive benefits (e.g., Fruit Ninja’s golden apples for tournament challenges).

Designing the In-Game Economy: Single vs. Multiple Currencies

The choice between a single or multiple currency system depends on the game’s genre and complexity.

  • Single Currency: This approach simplifies the game’s economy by using one type of currency for all transactions. It benefits casual and less complex games, reducing confusion and making it easier for players to understand the value of their currency (e.g., Candy Crush).

  • Multiple Currencies: Conversely, using multiple currencies can add depth to the game, often seen in advanced RPGs or MMOs. While offering various ways to earn and spend different currencies can enhance engagement, it can also lead to confusion if not well balanced (e.g., World of Warcraft uses “gold” for common items and “tokens” for exclusive gear).

Earning vs. Spending Mechanics: Striking a Balance

Earning Mechanics: Players can acquire in-game currency through various methods:

  • Completing quests
  • Earning achievements
  • Participating in events

It’s essential to maintain a balance between challenge and reward to keep players engaged without making the game too easy or too difficult.

Spending Mechanics: Players can use their in-game currency to purchase a wide range of items:

  • Cosmetic enhancements (character skins, weapon camos)
  • Power-ups

However, it’s important to avoid creating a “pay-to-win” environment where spending real money gives significant advantages. This can lead to unfair gameplay and player dissatisfaction.

In-game currency systems are an important part of video game design and affect how players interact with the game world. The balance between earning and spending mechanics, as well as the choice between single and multiple currencies, can have a significant impact on the overall player experience.

By carefully designing a system that encourages engagement and avoids unfair advantages, developers can create a thriving virtual economy that benefits both players and creators.

Building a Balanced In-Game Economy

A well-designed in-game currency system goes beyond simply giving players a way to buy things. It’s about creating a healthy and balanced virtual economy that promotes engagement and avoids frustration. Two key concepts underpin this balance: supply and demand, and sinks and sources.

Supply & Demand: Maintaining Equilibrium

Just like real-world economies, in-game economies need to manage the flow of currency to prevent inflation (too much currency in circulation) or deflation (too little currency). Imagine a game where players are constantly earning huge amounts of in-game currency, but have nothing to spend it on. Items become irrelevant and the whole system loses its purpose.

Conversely, if earning currency is incredibly difficult and there are very few things to buy, player motivation will plummet.

The key is to create a healthy balance between the amount of currency players earn (supply) and the opportunities they have to spend it (demand). This can be achieved by

  • Scaling rewards: As players progress, the amount of currency they earn can increase alongside the cost of more powerful items and upgrades.

  • Introducing new content: Regularly releasing new items, cosmetics, and features incentivizes players to keep earning and spending currency.

  • Limited-time events: Offering exclusive items or bonus rewards during special events creates a sense of urgency and drives players to spend their currency before the opportunity disappears.

Sinks & Sources: Keeping the Currency Flowing

Sinks are mechanisms designed to remove currency from the circulation, preventing excessive accumulation and encouraging players to remain active and engaged. Examples of sinks include the use of currency to create items through crafting, and the imposition of taxes on transactions between players.

A well-known example is the gold economy in World of Warcraft, where gold sinks such as crafting and trading help regulate the amount of currency in circulation. These sinks are essential for maintaining a balanced economy by preventing currency from becoming excessively abundant, which could lead to inflation and reduced player motivation.

Conversely, sources represent the avenues through which players can accrue currency. These include in-game rewards, completing quests, and microtransactions. It is crucial to design sources in a way that is both rewarding and fair to players. While microtransactions represent a significant source of revenue for developers, it is essential to ensure that they are used responsibly to avoid player frustration.

Transparency and perceived value are of the utmost importance. It is important that players feel that their purchases are worthwhile and not forced upon them. By offering a combination of free and paid methods for acquiring currency, developers can cater to a diverse player base, ensuring that all players can participate in the game economy without feeling disadvantaged. This balance between sinks and sources is fundamental to the creation of a thriving, sustainable in-game economy.

How to Create an In-Game Currency on Chain with Unity and ERC-20 Token

Creating an in-game currency on the blockchain involves integrating blockchain technology into your game development platform, such as Unity, and deploying a smart contract to manage the in-game currency as an ERC-20 token on the Ethereum blockchain. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you through the process:


1. Basic knowledge of Unity: Familiarity with the Unity game engine and C# programming.

2. Basic understanding of Ethereum and ERC-20: Knowledge of Ethereum smart contracts and ERC-20 token standards.

3. Tools and Software:

    – Unity

    – Visual Studio (or any code editor)

    – Node.js and npm

    – Truffle or Hardhat for smart contract development

    – Metamask or any other Ethereum wallet

    – Ganache for local blockchain testing

Step 1: Set Up Your Development Environment

1. Install Unity: Download and install the Unity Hub from the Unity website.

2. Install Node.js and npm: Download and install Node.js from the Node.js website.

3. Install Truffle or Hardhat:


    npm install -g truffle




    npm install --save-dev hardhat


4. Install Ganache: Download and install Ganache from the Truffle Suite website.

Step 2: Create an ERC-20 Token

1. Create a new directory for your project:


    mkdir MyToken

    cd MyToken


2. **Initialize a Truffle or Hardhat project**:


    truffle init




    npx hardhat


3. Create the ERC-20 smart contract:


    // SPDX-License-Identifier: MIT

    pragma solidity ^0.8.0;

    import "@openzeppelin/contracts/token/ERC20/ERC20.sol";

    contract MyToken is ERC20 {

        constructor(uint256 initialSupply) ERC20("MyToken", "MTK") {

            _mint(msg.sender, initialSupply);




4. Deploy the smart contract:

    – Create a migration script in the `migrations` directory (Truffle) or a deployment script (Hardhat).


    // Truffle migration script

    const MyToken = artifacts.require("MyToken");

    module.exports = function (deployer) {

        deployer.deploy(MyToken, 1000000);




    // Hardhat deployment script

    async function main() {

        const MyToken = await ethers.getContractFactory("MyToken");

        const myToken = await MyToken.deploy(1000000);

        console.log("MyToken deployed to:", myToken.address);


    main().catch((error) => {


        process.exitCode = 1;



5. Run Ganache:




6. Deploy the contract to Ganache:


    truffle migrate --network development




    npx hardhat run scripts/deploy.js --network localhost


Step 3: Integrate the Token with Unity

1. Create a new Unity project: Open Unity Hub, create a new 3D project.

2. Install Nethereum: This is a .NET library for interacting with Ethereum.

    – Open the Unity project.

    – Go to `Window > Package Manager`.

    – Click the `+` button, select `Add package from git URL…`.

    – Enter the Nethereum GitHub URL: ``.

3. Create a script to interact with the smart contract:


    using System.Collections;

    using System.Collections.Generic;

    using UnityEngine;

    using Nethereum.Web3;

    using Nethereum.Contracts;

    using Nethereum.Web3.Accounts;

    public class TokenManager : MonoBehaviour


        private string url = ""; // URL of your Ethereum node

        private string privateKey = "your_private_key"; // Your wallet private key

        private string contractAddress = "your_contract_address"; // Deployed contract address

        private string accountAddress = "your_account_address"; // Your wallet address

        private Web3 web3;

        private Contract contract;

        void Start()


            Account account = new Account(privateKey);

            web3 = new Web3(account, url);

            // ABI of the deployed contract

            string abi = @"[{'constant':false,'inputs':[{'name':'_spender','type':'address'},{'name':'_value','type':'uint256'}],'name':'approve','outputs':[{'name':'success','type':'bool'}],'type':'function'}]";

            contract = web3.Eth.GetContract(abi, contractAddress);


        public async void CheckBalance()


            var balanceFunction = contract.GetFunction("balanceOf");

            var balance = await balanceFunction.CallAsync<BigInteger>(accountAddress);

            Debug.Log("Balance: " + balance);


        public async void TransferTokens(string toAddress, BigInteger amount)


            var transferFunction = contract.GetFunction("transfer");

            var receipt = await transferFunction.SendTransactionAsync(accountAddress, toAddress, amount);

            Debug.Log("Transfer receipt: " + receipt.TransactionHash);




4. Attach the script to a GameObject: Create an empty GameObject in Unity and attach the `TokenManager` script to it.

5. Call the functions from UI elements: Create UI buttons and link them to the `CheckBalance` and `TransferTokens` functions.

Step 4: Testing

1. Run the Unity project: Make sure Ganache is running, and play the Unity project.

2. Interact with the contract: Use the UI elements to check balances and transfer tokens.

Additional Important Points:

1. Security Best Practices:

   – Never hardcode private keys in your Unity scripts. Instead, use secure key management solutions or allow users to input their keys securely.

   – Consider using encrypted storage for sensitive information on the client-side.

   – Implement proper authentication and authorization mechanisms in your game.

2. Gas Fees:

   – Explain to users that interacting with the Ethereum network requires gas fees.

   – Implement a system to estimate gas costs before transactions and inform users.

   – Consider implementing layer 2 solutions or sidechains for reduced gas fees in a production environment.

3. Advanced Integration:

   – Implement proper error handling for network issues and failed transactions.

   – Use gas estimation functions before sending transactions to provide accurate cost estimates to users.

   – Implement event listening to update the game state when blockchain transactions are confirmed.

4. Testing and Development:

   – Use testnets like Rinkeby or Goerli for development and testing before deploying to mainnet.

   – Implement extensive unit and integration tests for both smart contracts and Unity integration.

5. Scalability and Performance:

   – Be aware of the performance implications of frequent blockchain interactions.

   – Consider implementing caching mechanisms or off-chain solutions for non-critical operations.

6. Regulatory Compliance:

   – Research and comply with relevant regulations regarding in-game currencies and blockchain integration.

7. User Experience:

   – Design a user-friendly interface for blockchain interactions within the game.

   – Provide clear instructions and feedback for blockchain-related actions.

8. Wallet Integration:

   – Consider integrating with popular Ethereum wallets like MetaMask for a smoother user experience.

9. Upgradability:

   – Design your smart contracts with upgradability in mind to allow for future improvements or bug fixes.

10. Multi-chain Support:

    – Consider designing your system to support multiple blockchain networks for greater flexibility.

Launching and Maintaining a Successful In-Game Currency

Crafting a successful in-game currency system requires careful planning, execution, and ongoing management.

Pre-Launch Planning: Laying the Foundation

Before launching your in-game currency, meticulous planning is key. This involves understanding your target audience, competitor analysis, and meticulous system design.

  • Market Research & Competitor Analysis: Understanding your target audience’s preferences and studying competitor in-game currencies helps you identify unique selling propositions (USPs) for your own system. What features will make your currency stand out?
  • Currency Design: Define the purpose of your currency. Will it be the primary way to purchase items, or a secondary one used for specific in-game features? Determine the currency’s value, exchange rates (if applicable), and its overall branding elements. Security and fraud prevention measures are also crucial to establish trust with players.
  • Technical Development: Choose the technology stack that best suits your needs. Consider blockchain technology for enhanced security and transparency, or centralized systems for simpler implementation. Develop the underlying infrastructure, including smart contracts (if applicable on a blockchain) and integrate secure wallets for players to store their currency. Rigorous testing and debugging are essential to ensure a smooth launch.
  • Legal and Regulatory Compliance: Navigate the legal landscape surrounding in-game currencies. Understand local and international regulations, Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) policies. Data protection laws are also important considerations. Consult with legal experts if needed to ensure compliance.
  • Economic Strategy: Establish the initial supply and distribution plan for your currency. How will you mint new currency, and how will it be distributed to players initially? Designing a sustainable economy requires balancing supply and demand through sinks (mechanisms that remove currency from circulation) and sources (ways for players to acquire it). Continuously monitor the in-game economy and make adjustments as needed.

Launch and Post-Launch Management: Keeping the Engine Running

A successful launch is just the beginning. Here’s how to ensure your in-game currency thrives in the long run.

  • Soft Launch: Conduct beta testing with a limited audience to gather player feedback and identify areas for improvement before the official launch.

  • Official Launch: Generate excitement with press releases and announcements. Carefully monitor performance after launch, addressing any issues or bugs promptly.

  • Ongoing Management and Updates: Continuously update your currency system to address player concerns and introduce new features that keep players engaged. This could involve adding new ways to earn or spend currency, or introducing limited-time events to drive user interaction.

Integration with the Game: A Seamless Experience

A well-designed in-game currency seamlessly integrates with the gameplay, enhancing the player experience.

  • Seamless Incorporation into Game Mechanics: Design clear and engaging methods for earning and spending currency. Soft currency, often earned through gameplay achievements, can unlock cosmetic items or consumables. Hard currency, typically purchased with real money, might be used for exclusive items that don’t disrupt gameplay balance. Offer incentives to encourage players to use their currency, like bonus rewards for specific actions or limited-time sales.

  • User Interface and User Experience (UI/UX) Design: Create a user-friendly interface for managing and spending in-game currency. Players should easily see their current balance, how to acquire more, and what items they can purchase. Prioritize clear communication about currency value, acquisition methods, and spending options. Avoid hidden costs or confusing exchange rates.

  • Educating Players on Currency Use: Tutorials and in-game explanations are essential for helping players understand how to earn and spend currency effectively. This can help them appreciate the value of the currency and its role within the overall game economy. Highlight the benefits of using the currency, such as character personalization or enhanced gameplay experiences.

Marketing and Promotion: Building Hype and Maintaining Momentum

A well-executed marketing strategy can significantly influence the success of your in-game currency.

  • Pre-launch Marketing Strategies: Generate anticipation through targeted marketing campaigns. Utilize social media posts, influencer partnerships, or trailers showcasing the currency’s features and benefits. Engage with the gaming community to build hype and gather feedback.
  • Influencer and Partnership Strategies: Collaborate with relevant gaming influencers to promote your currency. Influencers can showcase its use and explain its value proposition. Partner with other games or services for cross-promotional opportunities. This could involve offering exclusive items or bonuses for players who use both currencies. Imagine a scenario where players can use their currency from Game A to purchase a unique cosmetic item in Game B, fostering a sense of connection between the two communities.
  • Launch Events and Promotions: Organize special launch events to celebrate the introduction of the in-game currency. This could involve online contests, giveaways, or special in-game events that incentivize players to participate and explore the new system. Offer limited-time promotions and discounts to encourage early adoption. This can attract players to try out the new currency system and experience its benefits firsthand.

Learning from the Best

By analyzing successful in-game currency implementations in popular games, we can glean valuable insights:

  • Fortnite’s V-Bucks: Fortnite’s dual currency system exemplifies a well-balanced approach. Players can earn V-Bucks (soft currency) through gameplay or purchase them (hard currency) with real money. V-Bucks are used to buy cosmetic items and Battle Passes, enhancing player personalization without affecting core gameplay. This “pay-to-look good, not pay-to-win” model fosters a fair and engaging experience for all players.

  • Dota 2’s Battle Pass: Dota 2 utilizes a seasonal Battle Pass system purchasable with real money. This pass offers exclusive cosmetic items, challenges, and rewards, providing players with a clear progression path and additional value for their investment. The system avoids a “pay-to-win” scenario as core gameplay remains unaffected by Battle Pass purchases.

  • FIFA’s Ultimate Team: FIFA’s Ultimate Team mode utilizes a pack system where players purchase packs with in-game currency or real money. These packs contain random player cards used to build a competitive team. While some may consider this a “pay-to-win” approach, developers can mitigate this by offering alternative ways to acquire strong players through gameplay achievements and trading.

These examples show how the concept of soft and hard currency can be adapted to different game genres. A puzzle game might offer soft currency for hints or power-ups, while a strategy game might use hard currency to unlock new maps or characters. The key is to strike a balance that enhances the gameplay experience without creating an unfair advantage for those who spend real money.

A well-designed in-game currency system is a powerful tool that can:

  • Increase player engagement by providing them with goals to work towards (earning currency) and meaningful ways to spend it (purchasing desired items).
  • Drive revenue for game developers, allowing them to create and maintain high-quality content.
  • Extend the game’s lifespan by offering players a long-term progression system and new ways to customize their experience.

It is important to monitor player behaviour continuously and adjust your currency system based on the data collected. This may involve adjusting earning rates, pricing structures, or the types of items available for purchase. It is essential to conduct rigorous data analysis in order to identify areas for improvement and ensure the long-term health of your in-game economy.

It is of the utmost importance to prioritise the player experience. The in-game currency system should enhance the gaming experience, rather than detract from it. It is important to avoid overly aggressive monetisation strategies that alienate players. It is important to strive to create a fair and balanced system that benefits both players and developers.

This guide provides a comprehensive roadmap for the design and implementation of a successful in-game currency system.

Use it as a foundation for developing your own distinctive system that aligns with your game’s core gameplay and fosters a thriving virtual economy. It is important to remember that a well-designed in-game currency can be a powerful tool for enhancing the player experience and driving game revenue in the long run.

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