Irene Umar: Play to Earn is the Next Esports

During a panel discussion on ‘The Role of Guilds in the P2E Ecosystem’, YGG SEA co-founder Irene Umar was bullish on the future of Play-to-Earn (P2E). 

YGG SEA is the largest blockchain gaming guild in Asia, with over 10,000 scholars on its roster. Moreover, Irene Umar has a very active role as the Indonesia Country Manager.

Umar gave an impassioned speech, which captivated the audience at the Play2Earn Expo Asia in Bangkok, predicting that Play-to-Earn will rise to be the force that Esports is today.

She said: “Play-to-Earn is still in the very early days. This is the same way Esports was seven years ago. When I invested in an Esports company seven years ago, all the venture capitalists said to me: Irene, what is this Esports thing? Nobody is going to watch that in a stadium. Fast forward to today and where are we? Esports is huge and there’s a talent crunch in the Esports industry. The same thing is going to happen with the Play-to-Earn model. This is (Play-to-earn) stage 1.”

“Investment needs to happen, money needs to flush in. This is the same logic as an industry in the world. Innovation needs to happen, people (need to be) onboarded.”

Umar joined a panel with fellow guild owner Cholo Maputol (Play it Forward), Johnny Mcwhorter (Morphyus League), and Ben Wee ( as they debated the role of guilds and how they’re evolving as an ecosystem.

Guilds play a fundamental role in the onboarding of traditional gamers into the Web3 ecosystem, and purchase the necessary assets to help their ‘Scholars’ get started in blockchain gaming. 

Additionally, guilds provide an infrastructure of support and even offer multiple career paths for those who are willing to dedicate themselves to the GameFi industry

Umar also spoke of her sense of pride and purpose in what the guilds have already accomplished in the Web3 ecosystem.

“I’m very proud of my scholars because despite the bear market, they stay,” she said. “We’re onboarding scholars that will be there with us through thick and thin. We’re the first ones to encourage them to come to the metaverse and create their first wallet, and that’s why they stick.”

“Being a gamer is just the first occupation. Two years down the line, there will be a lot more jobs created. As a guild, I want to give them the opportunity because as a guild, we change people’s lives.”

During the discussion, the panel discussed the games they invest in, and all agreed that the game must be fun, first and foremost. 

There has been much debate about the P2E model and it attracts criticism from the traditional gaming world.

The perception is that P2E is cynical and profit-driven at the expense of enjoyment. 

In truth, the P2E model is already evolving into something different, with the emergence of new models like ‘Play-and Own‘, which focus on ownership of assets over earning an income from a game. 

After Axie Infinity’s monumental surge during the COVID pandemic, the industry is starting to move forward.

Now, the focus is on engaging games which will onboard the masses, not the profit-driven few.

Umar continued: “For us, the first thing we look at (as a guild) is – will the community like playing the game. Because it’s a game. If it’s not a game people like playing, it’s called a chore.”


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