CashWars – The first Play to Earn?

Last Updated on: February 18, 2023

While at college, around 1999 to 2002, I discovered the Internet.

I was mainly interested in games. Buying up domains, building websites and contributing to the web would come later.

One of the games our class got obsessed with was Cash Wars ( – no longer active).

The CashWars online game lasted from 1999 to 2001

It was a map-based browser game in which you had a set number of moves per day. You spent your moves moving from one square to another (without a built-in map), and you could increase your moves by clicking on sponsor adverts.

When you reached another user’s base, you could attack them and steal their money. In turn, others attacked your base and stole your money… if they could find it.

Games were a lot simpler back in 2001…

Getting Paid by CashWars

If you had enough money at the end of the month, you could cash out and receive a cheque through the post.

The game was easily exploitable. If you worked together with your own “clan” of users, you could work out a map of the world and mark it with the bases of users that had a lot of money.

We built bots to move automatically every day using our maps. The referral system meant that a small percentage of any money earned by your referrals would be paid to you. So, of course, we made multiple accounts.

Eventually, I reached the earnings threshold and cashed out a cheque:

I was delighted. It was the first money I had made online, and it felt magical. I was playing around with a game and getting paid for it!

It was only $21, but friends and family couldn’t believe it. This was 2001, and the idea of earning money from the internet was a fantasy.

I didn’t even pay the cheque in – I would have received about $3 due to me being in the UK and my bank charging a lot for foreign currency cheques.

CashWars Didn’t Last Long

Soon after, CashWars closed down.

The game was easy to exploit, and eventually, they ran out of money.

It was a shame as I enjoyed just playing the game, but the internet was full of new and exciting games to try.

Maybe it seems trivial, but that first experience of earning money on the internet set me on the path that led me to where I am today. My mind opened to a new way of making an income, and I often think of this when I need a bit of motivation to push forward.

Did you play Cash Wars? What do you remember about the game?


  1. So funny, randomly googled cashwars and came across this post tonight. I remember playing this game way back, I was probably in 7th grade at the time. Learned about it from a group of friends I played another game known as 10six with at the time, both were amazing and innovative at the time, not something you see much of anymore.

  2. Just googled cash wars bc I stumbled on an old family friend who got me into it. I remember freaking out because my boys couldn’t work if my mom was playing her video poker game at the same time lol. We had to schedule our uses. My clan even had a couple passwords from other clan members and we’d spy on their message boards. I didn’t know this and used the accounts and posted with them to attack some people and we got found out. So much fun although I never cashed out. Surprised more people don’t talk about it. This is the first google result! Anyway thanks for the trip down memory lane. Oh wait one more thing. I remember one of the top clans was OPEC haha

  3. This is a blast from the past…I operated my own Mutual Defense Network (what you call a “clan” ). I had a website that our MDN members (at the time each MDN was limited to 100 users) could log into that re-skinned the game (which was otherwise basic). It also visually exposed the individual cells that comprised each tile which allowed the user to choose exactly where to drill (where the tile was otherwise a uniform blob). I also had a function that I called “The Incredible Oil Machine” that automatically played out the user’s daily ration of moves. For a brief while we were one of the top MDNs. I never cashed out though. I was more interested in building a successful team (and technology to support their success).

  4. It’s great to know that others still remember this game!

    It felt groundbreaking at the time, and it blew my mind that you could earn money from it… although that wasn’t as easy as it looked.

    That feeling of getting your base attacked and losing money was devastating… because you knew you would end up on a list of rich bases and they would all now be coming for you 😅

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