Is this weird puffer-fish cartoon NFT really the future of gaming? Why is everyone so obsessed with Axies and can I earn money from playing? Or is this all a ponzy scheme scam ?
I was sitting on the train when I overheard a passionate discussion going on behind me. Being the curious (nosy) journalist I am, I paused my podcast and listened in.
Two people were feverishly talking about some game, although from what I could understand this game wasn’t quite like any other. Friend one told friend two that he’d earned more money playing this game than he had from going to work that day. Friend two confided in return that’d been able to pay his rent entirely from in-game profits.
Naturally, I had to know more.
What is Axie Infinity?
The game itself is Axie Infinity. But Axie Infinity is so much more than a game. Axie Infinity has developed a complete NFT-based universe. (If you have no clue on what NFTs are in the first place, we’ve written out an easy to digest starter guide on NFTs too.)
It boasts an economy that features a rewarding play-to-earn mechanism. Players can collect, battle, breed and trade adorable NFTs called Axies to earn generous crypto rewards. All within the Axie Infinity Ecosystem.
Many have called it the ‘Pokemon of Blockchain’, and I must admit there are some similarities. Players can craft their Axie NFTs into competitive teams and complete daily challenges and receive payouts of $SLP and AXS tokens.
The game is built on the Ethereum blockchain. However, its smooth operation is assisted by Axie Infinity’s own Ronin sidechain. This reduces network fees and congestion while playing. This is fantastic, because the suspense watching my Axie lag during a crucial final attack is nail-biting. I wouldn’t wish that stress on anyone.
In Q1 2022, Axie Infinity supported an average of 2 million daily players. Not only is Axie Infinity a wildly popular game, it pioneered the Play-to-Earn movement and brought NFT gaming to the masses. It’s clear that Axie Infinity represents a turning point in the NFT gaming industry, but where did this global sensation come from?
History of Axie Infinity
Development of the Axie Infinity concept and universe began as far back as 2018. The project was founded by Sky Mavis, a Vietnamese blockchain gaming enterprise. Sky Mavis set out with the aim to craft engaging games and virtual worlds. All while using the undiscovered potential of blockchain gaming.
While it had humble beginnings it was evident that the team was on the brink of something special. By mid-May 2021, Sky Mavis had already secured $7.5 USD million to scale the game. Notable investors included industry giga-brains and VC’s like Mark Cuban and Libertus Capital. With these funds, Sky Mavis was able to rapidly scale the Axie Infinity experience and onboard millions of users to the game we know and enjoy today.
Axie Infinity in the Crypto Bull Run of 2021
Sky Mavis timed their game release to perfection. Axie Infinity was hitting its stride just as NFTs were going viral in mainstream media. Repeated pandemic-induced lockdowns had meant that a lot of people were out of work and staying at home. If only I’d known, playing games to earn money sounds like the dream, right?
The AXS Token was one of the best performers in the 2021 cryptocurrency Bull Market, running from under $1 USD to an ATH of $164 USD. Axie Infinity became the gold standard of Play-to-Earn gaming, with some going so far as to say AXS was the Bitcoin of Gaming. Other gaming coins were coupled and moved alongside AXS, rather than the wider market conditions.
As adoption increased, everyone wanted a piece of the pie. People didn’t want to grind their low-levelled Axies, and the secondary market exploded. Stronger Axies meant winning more battles, and ultimately earning more rewards. The most expensive Axie ever sold was Axie #2655 (Sir Gregory), who went for a whopping 369ETH (over $800k USD at the time)
Popularity in the Philippines
Nowhere else in the world was Axie Infinity mania quite as widespread as in the Philippines. Playing Axie Infinity became a fun way for the nation’s people to earn supplemental income. Filipinos make up around 35% of all Axie Infinity Players, which equates to roughly 800,000 daily users.
However, as Axie Infinity grew in popularity and the value of Axies increased, the game arguably became a victim of its own success. Users need to hold at least 3 Axie NFTs to be able to form a team and play the game. At the height of its popularity, the cheapest Axies on the market sold at around $200-$300 USD each. This meant that players needed to front about $700 to get started playing.
Fortunately, the community was able to find a solution. Axie Infinity Scholarships allowed players to rent NFTs from other owners. Renters were able to play Axie Infinity and earn rewards like normal owners. The condition was, they paid a share of their profits back to the original owner when returning the Axie NFT.
An exploit hack on Sky Mavis’ Ronin Bridge muddied Axie Infinity’s otherwise perfect reputation. Back in March, a hacker was able to drain about $622 USD million by exploiting the Ronin Bridge with hacked private keys. Making this event one of the biggest hacks in cryptocurrency history.
This exploit devastated the Axie community. Adoption of the game lost significant momentum. Sky Mavis swore to make things right. They got to work repairing the bridge against future exploits. Sky Mavis also promised to refund all their devoted players who’d lost funds in the attack.
Fast-forward to the present day, we can see that Sky Mavis stood by their promise. The Ronin Bridge is live and operational. The team re-stabilised the economy and refunded players.
But enough about the background. I know why you’re really here! How can I earn money by playing Axie Infinity?
Axie Infinity In-game mechanics and features
The premise is very simple. Collect Axie NFTs, build your perfect team and win battles to earn rewards. Battling follows a turn-based mechanism. You need to make strategic attacks that take advantage of your Axie’s stats and attributes.
Your Axie Team
Like Pokemon, all Axies are classed into different types. Your Axies have unique stats, attributes and moves. You’ll need to master these if you want to be the greatest Axie trainer ever. There are 9 different types. Each type has certain strengths and weaknesses against the others:
I don’t want to go too deep into the strategy here. Because part of the fun is building your own team and finding out what works for you based on your play style. I will give you one hint though: Diversify your team. Don’t load up on only ‘attacking’ Beast Axies. Learn from my mistakes and mix up your classes and have at least 1 ‘tank’ defensive Axie.
After you’ve been playing for a while, you might want to start breeding your favorite Axie NFTs. This means you don’t have to buy more on the secondary market. You can breed rare traits to try and create a more valuable NFT. I’d recommend using this breeding calculator to see your chances of getting specific attributes.
To breed a new Axie, you’ll need 2 parent Axies and some Smooth Love Potion. To prevent hyperinflation, Axies can only breed 7 times. After 5 days, your new Axie will mature and ready to battle! The breeding cost in $SLP tokens also rises after consequent births. This adds value to Smooth Love Potion and increases buying pressure.
Smooth Love Potion ($SLP)
Smooth Love Potion is the rewards token of the Axie Infinity Economy. It’s used primarily for breeding your Axies. When you play Axie Infinity, you earn $SLP tokens for completing daily quests. You can also battle against NPC Axies in ‘Adventure Mode’ or against other players in ‘Arena Mode’ to earn $SLP. When I first started, I wish someone had told me to learn the ropes in ‘Adventure Mode’. Instead, I charged into the Arena and lost all my battles.
Smooth Love Potion tokens are tradable on the market in exchange for other cryptocurrencies like BTC. $SLP is constantly generated and given to players as rewards. This means that $SLP has an inflationary supply which is prone to decrease in value. Please be careful if you’re holding any long term.
Axie Infinity Shards ($AXS)
Axie Infinity Shards are the native token of the Axie Infinity Economy. It functions as the glue that holds the entire Axie universe together. Players can stake their $AXS tokens to earn passive income. The very best Axie players can earn $AXS by securing their place on the games competitive leaderboard.
$AXS also pays the crucial role of being the governance token of the Axie Infinity game. Holders of $AXS have the right to vote in Governance Proposals that shape the future of the game. This is a pretty incredible opportunity in the Gaming Industry.
You can trade in-game tokens using the Katana decentralized exchange. Taking your rewards out of the game is quite tiresome. You need to withdraw your coins from your wallet to a centralized exchange. Then you need to open the exchange and trade your tokens. The Katana DEX simplifies this process. It allows you to trade your $SLP and $AXS tokens back to ETH and USDC without leaving the Axie universe.
How to get started playing Axie Infinity
This is where things can get a bit tricky. The complete setup process is one of the greatest obstacles to actually playing the game. To get started playing Axie Infinity Classic you’ll need a few things:
The easiest way to get started playing Axie Infinity is to head to the Sky Mavis Welcome Page and follow their step-by-step tutorial.
Now for those who want to try it out but aren’t ready to buy any Axies just yet, we have a solution! Back in April, Mavis Labs finally addressed the onboarding problem. Introducing Axie Origin!
Origin brings all the same features and gameplay as Axie Classic without the play-to-earn aspect. It’s completely free and is a great way to dip your toe in before taking the plunge.
Axie Infinity Alternatives
Every market leader needs competition. It’s healthy for the industry. It asks development teams to continue innovating and creating fresh new products. If no one ever stood up to challenge Microsoft, they would be no Apple.
The same holds true for NFT Gaming. Axie Infinity is the biggest name in the blockchain gaming movement. But, it’s not without its challengers. Let’s take a quick look at some deserving competitors:
Sandbox is leading the charge on creating rich and profound virtual worlds. More than a game, Sandbox is building an entire metaverse. Gamers will be able to interact and explore the Sandbox metaverse. You can also trade Sandbox Land NFTs and earn in-game rewards. What’s even more exciting is that you can even create your own no-code games in the Sandbox Game Maker.
For all the trading card gamers and collectors, Gods Unchained is for you. In Gods Unchained, every in-game trading card is an NFT that you own and can trade on the market. This makes building your perfect deck a fun and unique on-chain experience. Players can also earn rewards by winning matches.
To be honest, STEPN is more of a fitness revolution than a game. STEPN flipped the play-to-earn craze on its head by coining a craze of its own, move-to-earn. Millions of users were collecting STEPN Sneaker NFTs. Players were earning hundreds of dollars by walking around their neighborhood.
Axie Infinity in the Bear Market
The current bear market provides a unique opportunity for Axie Infinity. In 2021, Axie Infinity was easily the largest blockchain based game we’d ever seen. Its growth and adoption was parabolic, with early investors making a 100x gain in a matter of months. It reached a level of unsustainable hype and crashed.
If you’d wanted to get started playing Axie Infinity then but weren’t able to because you couldn’t afford 3 Axies at $250 USD each. Now might be a great time to rediscover the game. Axies are getting sold for as little as $5 USD now. Meanwhile the game is becoming more accessible with Axie Origin.
The team has shown consistent commitment to ongoing development. Even after the March 2021 exploit and the loss of $622 USD million, the team promised to fix the outstanding issues. The team repaired the Ronin Bridge and refunded all players who lost funds. These actions restored confidence in the project.
What’s Next for Axie Infinity?
Remember when I said earlier that Sky Mavis raised $7.5 USD million back in May 2021? Well they backed that up with an astronomically bigger funding round. This time valued at $152 USD million in October. The Axie team has strong backers, and a pretty significant war chest moving forward.
The next step in the Axie Roadmap is the integration of Axie Land. Virtual land in the Axie Universe has already proven valuable, with a highest sale of over $2.3 USD Million.
✨A Genesis Land Plot just sold for 550 ETH!— Axie Infinity🦇🔊 (@AxieInfinity) November 24, 2021
That’s over 2.3 M USD!
Our player-owned Digital nation continues to shock the world 🙌🔥 pic.twitter.com/SVvAtFNYUF
Axie Land Plot utility is still in active development. Axie Infinity has teased 3 main phases:
- Land Management & Resource gathering. The team hinted that any resources found on your land belong to you.
- New Gameplay elements and social activities. This means skill development, Axie Jobs and dare I say it, an Axie Disco?
- Strategic conquest and overworld events. Defend your land from invaders. Take part in global events that impact the entire Axie metaverse.
I don’t know about you, but this sounds like some exciting changes already on the way. I love the idea of befriending and allying with my Axie neighbour. We can trade resources, and team up against invaders. Expanding the Axie mechanics beyond battling is a nice touch. Incorporating skill development and land management is a great step in growing the game.
Ultimately, I think the Axie team’s greatest asset has been their ability to adapt to changing circumstances. Their handling of the exploit was admirable. We can see they’re always responding to pain points felt by their users. The release of Axie Origin and the development of Axie Mobile apps will be key to their ongoing success.
Removing the existing barrier to entry is integral to onboarding new users. Axie Origins will streamline this process. The challenge then is to port players over into the play-to-earn economy. If the team continues to innovate as they’ve proven they can, Axie Infinity can continue to dominate blockchain gaming in the years to come.
28/07/2022: According to Finance/ Real Estate YouTuber Meet Kevin the CEO, co-founders and large parts of their internal team allegedly cashed out their AXS tokens during the timeframe from when they saw they got hacked to when they disclosed it to the public. Possibly cashing out at a more favorable price than their user base and thus potentially scamming thousands of users. We will keep you up to date on this as more info comes afloat.
29/07/2022: The CEO, Trung Nguyen replied that day on Twitter that these are false accusations:
This story includes speculation of insider trading. These accusations are baseless and false. In fact, the Founding Team even deposited $7.5M from a known Axie multi-sig wallet TO Ronin Network prior to the bridge closing to avoid triggering any short-sellers watching.— Trung Nguyen (@trungfinity) July 28, 2022
Axie Site: https://axieinfinity.com/
Axie News and Updates: https://axie.substack.com/
Axie Images and Media Kit: https://www.notion.so/axie/Axie-Infinity-Media-Kit-e02838bee25441838850c21f116af319
Katana DEX: https://katana.roninchain.com/#/swap