One game gaining some popularity among the cryptocurrency craze is RollerCoin. Its players have been promoting it through its referral links, claiming that it is one of the funnest play-to-earn games. You can alleged earn money just playing for free. At first it seems like a simple little idle game, but the main content is actually playing little minigames. There's Match 3, Breakout, 2048, and other classic arcade games, and you have to play these games (or pay real money) to power up your computer to "mine cryptocurrency" (in the game). This power decays in 1–7 days, depending on how often you've been playing, meaning you have to play these little games over and over and over to earn any cryptocurrency.
However this abstraction makes it very difficult to see how much you're actually getting paid. You might get a dopamine rush for "earning money from video games" but have no idea how much you're earning, so I decided to do the math and see.
The amount of power you have compared to the overall share of fictional mining power among the players determines how much money you'll get every time a "block is mined", which is currently every 10 minutes. The "block reward" is currently 30 RLT, which is conveniently pegged to equal $30 (as long as the cryptocurrency bubble never pops at least).
The games all pay varying amounts, but lets say you're smart and just play the more profitable games like "Cryptonoid" and "Crypto Hamster", which both give about "1 TH/s" of power for 1/3/7 days, depending on how many games you've played. Assuming you play RollerCoin every single day without missing one, you'll eventually get a 7-day expiration date, so lets go with that.
The amounts of the payouts are currently $30 if you're "mining RLT" and $12 if you're "mining Bitcoin". The amount of power all players are contributing to these two are "20 EH/s" and "13 EH/s", so you'll get about 50% more money if you go with the game's coin. Most of the other coins are somewhere in between, and RLT is the highest of them all, so let's go with that.
So then, getting to the math, if you play one of the more valuable games to "mine RLT", you'll get 1 TH/s out of 20,000,000 TH/s total. This means, you'll get ¹⁄₂₀,₀₀₀,₀₀₀ of the reward, or one-and-a-half one-millionths of a dollar every 10 minutes. If you keep your in-game computer all the way leveled-up, it'll last for 7 days, or 10,080 minutes. Dividing this by ten and then by then multiplying by the reward you get:
So, in the best-case scenario, you'll earn about one seventh of a penny for every game you play. You could earn $1 in only about 660 games of dedicated play though. At one minute per game, that's 9¢ per hour! If you miss a day and only have the 3-day computer or play a suboptimal game, then you'll make about half that.
Long story short: RollerCoin essentially pays nothing. It would be far better to play a game you find more fun and forget about RollerCoin because you're not going to make money from it. You could earn more mowing your neighbor's lawn or begging on the street corner for an hour than you ever would playing RollerCoin, no matter how dedicated you are.
It's worth noting that RollerCoin does have "miners" you can buy for real money that generate money passively without playing the minigames. These are also horrible and risky deals, but there's no gaming element there, and they're essentially unrelated to the free-to-play minigame side, so that doesn't really factor into this post.