How Axie Infinity is turning gaming on its head

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Players battling Pokémon clones are making thousands of dollars every month

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Last month I wrote about Loot, a viral social project like I’ve never seen before. What made this possible were the unique digital objects known as non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, which inspired the loot community to build an entire fictional universe around them from bottom to top. Today I want to talk about another big social experiment that NFTs have enabled, and the potentially profound consequences the platform is showing as a result.

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I have a feeling that, for a lot of you, talking about blockchain projects immediately turns a blind eye and closes the tab. But with loot, today’s edition is one of those unconventional startups that seems too interesting to ignore. Especially because, on the surface, this might seem like little more than a cheap pokemon clone

the name of this thing is axi infinity, and it is made by a Vietnam-based company named Sky Mavis. It was in the news last week because, just five months after lifting $7.5 million round of Series A funding, Sky Mavis adds an additional $152 million Series B led by Andreessen Horowitz. The company, which was founded in 2018, is now valued at $3 billion.

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Fundraising is not the interesting part: in 2021, almost any crypto-branded project showing decent growth will fill itself with venture capital. Axis Interesting because it is using cryptocurrencies to create a new type of video game in which you can earn a meaningful income just by playing. The game is surrounded by a community that has a financial stake Axis Through the game’s two postures, which they can use to influence its development.

In short, it is a social network where all the participants are buying and selling goods with real money. We have a word for that, which we would almost never apply to a web-based social network: an economy. and if Axis continues to grow at its current rate, which is poised to have some attractive implications.

Axis It’s just the beginning,” said Ariana Simpson, a partner at Andreessen Horowitz, who led the firm. Axis Investment. “Axis built this model, but I think it’s going to be very widely applicable… if I can play a game, and have the same amount of fun, and make money – obviously That I would love to do, right? and so i think Axis is really just defining a new category, and this mechanism is, to my mind, going to break into the games of generations to come. “

But let’s back up for a minute: what kind of game axi infinity, Correct? In short, it is pokemon on the blockchain. (It is not available in the App Store; you can download either Axis Sideload it on your desktop or on your Android phone.) The game offers turn-based combat between teams of three cartoon monsters, known as Axis; Each Axi has their types (bugs, birds, plants, etc.) and the powers that arise from their different body parts.

where is it different pokemon is that axes are unique digital objects that are stored Axisown blockchain; In order to create new ones, existing owners must “breed” them by spending the currency earned within the game or the currency purchased from an exchange. By winning battles in the game, or selling Axis to other players, owners can earn in-game currencies. Those earnings can then be sold for real money on the open market, generating income for the players.

Dedicated players are now earning thousands of dollars a month by playing Axis, and the platform has grown rapidly, with 1.8 million users logged into the platform in August. As rest of the world reported in August, This has proven to be especially true in the Philippines., where today’s 40 percent Axis Player based. The combination of the current low wages and the pandemic-related lockdown in the country has been a boon. Axis, as players come into the game in search of economic opportunity. (The outlet interviewed a man who doubled his income by selling feed) Axis, $2,000 per month; A follow-up story was discovered How the Nation’s Bureau of Internal Revenue is now harassing players to pay their taxes.)

A statistic that surprised me: Sky Mavis says 25 percent of its players have never had a bank before, which means their Axis Wallets are the first financial services they are able to access. Simpson told me that in some places in the Philippines people are paying their rent with the game’s SLP tokens. It helps to explain how AxisIts total trading volume has now exceeded $2.4 billion.

I asked Alexander Larsen, co-founder and chief operating officer of Sky Mavis, why he thought so. Axis Developed much faster than other crypto projects. In short he said, Axis Cash in on financial incentives: They gave players a good monetary reason to keep playing.

“The way crypto works is that you have to get something out of it, right?” he said. “I think it really started from there. And then over the years, more and more people have started to believe in our vision.”

The company also made smart technical decisions: for example, dedicated game transactions”Side chain“Which enables games to use Ethereum’s native infrastructure without having to process transactions, which can be slow and costly.

how big is the question Axis can get from here. While economic incentives can be powerful, especially in developing countries, the fact that playing Axis Today is heavy. NS eight-step process Downloading not one but two crypto wallets described in the company’s online guide includes; Buying and depositing Ethereum on the company’s own blockchain; And buying at least three axes, along with other functions.

There are a lot of upfront costs: rest of the world It is estimated that the game currently costs around $1,500 to purchase. (I haven’t made the jump myself yet.) In the Philippines, companies are now lending Axis to other players in exchange for 30 percent of their earnings.

Larsen is the first to admit that the current setup is complicated. He compared it to “swimming on an island” just to play.

Axis There is complete isolation – you have to work all this hard to get there,” he said. “And yet people are willing to do that.”

But a change is coming, he told me. The company is currently working on a free-to-play version of Axis That, at least theoretically, could pass muster in the Google Play Store or Apple’s App Store.

It should be available within three or four months, Larsen said. He said he expects the app’s growing popularity to take advantage of Sky Mavis with Apple as it navigates App Store policies. To date, as far as I can tell, there is no iOS app for buying and selling NFTs. (Some, like OpenSea’s, at least display the ones you own.)

The dream is to eliminate everything that’s hard to play Axis And welcome to the rest of the world. Larsen hopes that in a future version of the game, you will be able to acquire your blockchain assets with a single click and start playing.

“It’s the dream, obviously,” he said. “That’s what I’m working for. And when that time comes, I think we can reach 2 billion people.

In the meantime, Axis is developing a way for people to purchase virtual plots of land in its fictional setting, the aptly named Lunasia, and hopes to eventually become a platform for games and experiences similar to Roblox.

But let’s fast forward a few years to a time when Apple and the crypto companies did some work. What would it be like to live in a world where average people can make little money – or even a lot of money – playing games? How will this affect what types of games are made? Will it slowly grab the attention of those who would otherwise have spent their time thumbing through the feed, enriching the platform without thinking?

It’s too early to say, but this summer, these questions stopped feeling like science-fiction to me. i don’t know that axi infinity next is fortnite. But I believe that what is happening in the Philippines today will be coming to other countries – possibly even more developed countries – in the not too distant future.

And when it comes to this, the idea of ​​playing to earn can bring a lot of people into crypto with it.


This column was co-published with platformer, a daily newspaper about Big Tech and Democracy.

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