Vietnam-based Sky Mavis developed the NFT-based online trading and battling video game Axie Infinity. It uses Ethereum-based crypto tokens Axie Infinity Shards or AXS and Smooth Love Potion or SLP. Released in 2018, this game generated USD 42 million in sales in June 2021, thereby, making it one of the most expensive NFT collections in the market.
There has been an ongoing hype involving this game beginning in 2020 and gaining momentum further in 2021. For the simplest reason that it is founded on a play-to-earn model, as well as on blockchain technology, Axie Infinity has become popular in developing countries such as the Philippines. The gameplay allows users to earn AXS or SLP that can be converted to the Ether currency of the Ethereum blockchain, which can be utilized as real-world money.
It is also important to highlight the fact that this game has been at the forefront of the emerging play-to-earn movement. NFT-based games are revolutionizing video gaming as it runs in contrast with traditional video games in which in-game assets are confined in a particular game title or a single platform with no options to move them off.
Playing and Earning: Pros of Axie Infinity
Gameplay Based on Trading and Battling
The game can be described best as a fusion between the popular role-playing video game Pokémon and the digital collectible card game Hearthstone. The gameplay is considerably straightforward in plain sight: it involves battling and breeding Pokémon-like playable monster characters called Axies.
However, there are four ways players can play Axie. One is through breeding Axies and selling them to other players via a marketplace. The other one is by doing in-game quests and through engaging in PvP or player-versus-player battles against other players. Players can also put their bred and raised Axies to in-game tests.
The graphical user interface and overall look and feel of the game are considerably simple. But the play-to-earn selling point makes it an attractive game title. Engaging in battles or breeding Axies can earn players the Ethereum-based tokens AXS and SLP, which, as mentioned, can be converted into Ether and used as real-world money.
Axies are Non-Fungible Tokens
The fact that Axies are non-fungible tokens or NFTs is one of the main highlights and, thereby, one of the main advantages of Axie Infinity. For starters, an NFT is a digital asset that can be collected, sold, and traded. A lot of individuals have earned money from creating, selling, and trading NFT-based digital contents.
Notable examples include the digital artwork “Everydays—The First 5000 Days” by Michael Joseph Winkelmann, also known as Beeple, which was sold for USD 69.3 million, as well as his 10-second video entitled “Crossroads” was also sold for USD 6.6 million. Artist Kristy Kim sold the 3D-rendered house model “Mars House” for USD 500,000.
Memes and video clips, as well as music, digital collectible cards, and even documents, have been tokenized via NFT minting using blockchain technology. Nevertheless, when a player owns several Axies, he or she essentially owns a collection of digital assets with a potential monetary value. These Axies can be traded or sold in an open marketplace.
Complexity and Future Developments
Sky Mavis explained that the game is structured as an open-ended digital pet universe. What this means is that the developers would expand further both its gameplay and functionality in the future. There is an obvious attempt to create an immersive digital ecosystem based on blockchain tech and cryptocurrency with Axie at the center.
Furthermore, the game is considerably complex. In the Philippines, where it has enjoyed hundreds of thousands of players since 2021, players can choose from three different roles: as a “manager” who curates Axies, as a “scholar” who play the Axies of several “managers,” and lastly, as a “breeder” who breeds and sells Axies.
The developments in the Philippines are a testament to the open-ended structure of the game. Specifically, these “managers” have found a solution to increase their earning potential by renting Axies NFTs to other players, thus allowing these “scholars” to earn.
Runs on Desktop and Mobile Operating Systems
Another notable feature or advantage of Axie Infinity is that it runs on major desktop and mobile operating systems. More specifically, it runs on Microsoft Windows, macOS from Apple, the Android operating system, and iOS and iPadOS. In other words, it can be installed and played on PCs, Mac devices, Android smartphones and tablets, and iPhones and iPads.
The cross-platform compatibility of this video game makes it accessible to a number of individuals, thereby allowing it to attract more users and expanding further possibilities for future expansion, while also allowing possibilities to sustain and expand further the involved digital ecosystem and the blockchain economy.
It is also important to highlight the fact that it does not require flagship or top-op-the-line hardware. The application can run smoothly using conservative system resources. For example, it can run on mid-range Android smartphones that are up to five years old, or the most latest entry-level and budget Android devices in the market.
Play-to-Earn and the Blockchain Economy
Remember that this is an NFT-based play-to-earn video game. Although players do not earn traditional fiat money directly, they can earn Ethereum-based tokens AXSs and SLPs, which can be converted into Ether—one of the recognized cryptocurrencies in the world. They can have their Ether converted further into fiat or use them directly.
Several players have gained a substantial amount of money from playing this game. For example, in several rural regions in the Philippines, numerous success stories have been published by the media. These range from a player who was able to sustain the basic needs of his family during the pandemic to another player who was able to buy a house and lot.
Another benefit of Axie is that it provides an opportunity for common individuals to understand how blockchains and cryptocurrencies work, particularly the workings of the blockchain economy. In addition, because Axies are NFTs, they can be traded for cryptocurrencies, while sponsored players can earn allowances from NFT owners.
Limitations and Issues: Cons of Axie Infinity
Specific Earning Limitations of the Game
Completing in-game quests or other in-game activities will earn a particular player AXSs or SLPs. However, the developers have limited how much a particular player can earn from completing daily quests, participating in player-vs-player or Arena events, and accomplishing certain tasks within the in-game adventures.
Earning cryptocurrencies also requires putting in time and effort. As an example, earning 50 SLPs per day would require completing the daily check-in requirement, completing 10 adventure mode levels, and winning 5 PvP matches. Earning more SLPs requires spending time going through and completing more adventure mode levels.
The aforesaid requirements consume a considerable amount of time. Hence, this is the reason why moneyed players tend to lend their Axies NFTs to other players. It is also important to note that it is impossible to make continuous and consistent revenue streams due to several factors, especially for those with full-time jobs or other responsibilities.
Issues with NFTs and Blockchain Technology
Numerous observers have expressed concerns over the sudden popularity of selling and trading non-fungible tokens. Some have noted that the current interest surrounding NFTs might create an economic bubble that will eventually collapse due to market hype, speculation and herding tendency, and overvaluation of digital NFT assets.
The cryptocurrency market has its own risks as well. Although the value of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ether have increased over the years, these digital assets remain volatile. Historical trends would reveal that the market has experienced drastic highs and sudden drastic drops both within the short-term and medium-term.
Blockchain technology has also notable drawbacks and criticisms. One of the most notable disadvantages of blockchain is that the entire technology consumes a substantial amount of energy. Experts have warned that expanding further its application, especially through numerous NFT use cases, can negatively impact the environment.
High Cost of Starting Axie Infinity
It is indeed a play-to-earn game. However, it is not free. One of the biggest disadvantages of Axis Infinity is that the initial cost can be very expensive. There was a time when a player would need to invest USD 500 to purchase at least three Axies. However, the cost has now jumped to more than USD 1000. Note that a player needs to own at least three Axies to start.
Of course, there has been a workaround. The situation in countries such as the Philippines has been a testament to this fact. As discussed above, individuals have found a way to play the game without investing money, particularly by looking for an existing player who will be willing to lend his or her collection of Axies NFTs.
There are a lot of owners who have built their teams of sponsored players who are tasked to play their Axies NFTs on their behalf. Of course, looking for these owners can be challenging. Individuals would need to exert an extra effort not only in looking for these owners but also in convincing them for inclusion in their teams.
Conclusion: Pros and Cons of Axie Infinity
Axie Infinity is a legitimate play-to-earn video game based on NFT and blockchain technology. The current number of players and the record-breaking sales it has generated are good indicators that it has a solid digital ecosystem and economy.
To add to the aforementioned advantages, another strength of this game is that the value of the cryptocurrencies used in-game is based on a fair market price. Future development plans for this game remain promising. As one of the first NFT-based games, it is also a game-changer, and can indeed benefit early adopters.
But people should still exercise caution. Axies NFTs are still prone to overvaluation, as well as hyperinflation. Adding to this is the fact that cryptocurrencies are volatile. Individuals should evaluate their risk appetite when investing real money in the game.