The Vietnamese play-to-earn captured the headlines in 2021 but still remains a mega-hit
For anyone interested in web3, Axie Infinity is a name that carries weight. It shot to fame in 2021 when thousands of people started earning a full-time living from it. Lots of people will have seen the cute little NFT characters and some will know that the game involves battles. But how does one play and earn in Axie Infinity? How does the game economy work? Start by reading our comprehensive guide.
- What is Axie Infinity?
- Who created the game?
- What is the Ronin network?
- How to play and earn Axie Infinity Origins?
- Axie Infinity NFTs
- What is Axie Experience Points (AXP)?
- Axie Infinity in-game tokens
- Can I play Axie Infinity for free?
- How to make money playing Axie Infinity
- Is the in-game economy sustainable?
- The impact of Axie Infinity on the blockchain gaming industry
- What plans does Sky Mavis have for the future of Axie Infinity?
- Discover the best play-and-earn games
What is Axie Infinity?
Axie Infinity is a play-to-earn blockchain game where users can breed and battle their NFT characters. It became a mega-hit in 2021, as people played it worldwide to earn a livable income.
It began with a simple battle arena-type format in which players could battle each other or fight the computer in progressively more difficult stages. The in-game critters, called Axies, are based on Nintendo’s retro classic Pokémon.
In 2022, it upgraded its original game into Axie Infinity Origins with new game mechanics and seamless onboarding. Later that year, they launched the Alpha season for Axie Homeland, a new farming simulation game for Axie landowners.
Axie Infinity regularly sits at or near the top of DappRadar Games Rankings pages and attracts tens of thousands of users on a daily basis. Additionally, tens of millions of dollars pass through the Axie Infinity smart contracts every week.
Whichever metric you use, Axie Infinity is an indisputable giant of the blockchain gaming scene.
Who created the game?
Sky Mavis is the company behind Axie Infinity. It’s a Vietnamese company, led by co-founder and CEO Nguyen Thanh Trung.
The video game developer was founded in 2017 after its founding group realized the potential of blockchain technology. After investing in CryptoKitties, Trung saw that play-to-earn gaming could benefit users.
Sky Mavis was valued at $3 billion in 2021 after a $152 million funding round. Since then, the game and its ecosystem have endured a rocky period (more of which later). Today, the company is probably worth much less but is still a giant in the blockchain space.
What is the Ronin network?
Sky Mavis created the Ronin network in February 2021. It’s an Ethereum sidechain and was introduced so that Sky Mavis had more control over its entire ecosystem.
Ronin gives users cheaper transaction fees and faster confirmation times than if Axie Infinity had remained fully on Ethereum. Alongside these benefits, ownership of the sidechain means that Sky Mavis can reinvest gas fees into the game.
The network was built specifically for gaming to host more than just Axie Infinity. In time, Sky Mavis can develop more games and house them on the sidechain. And then, if it wants to, it can invite external developers to build their own games on the Ronin.
In fact, Ronin will soon be widely recognized as more than the Axie Infinity network. Some games are currently under development at Ronin protocol and plan to launch this year, such as The Machines Arena and Tribesters: Island of Solas.
How to play and earn Axie Infinity Origins?
Launched in 2023 on desktop and mobile, Axie Infinity Origins is the upgraded battle version of Axie Infinity introducing new game mechanics and enhanced onboarding experiences – and also the main version of the game.
As things stand, Axie Infinity is a very simple game. You send your three Axie characters into battle against three other Axies. You can own in-game items and profit out of your performance.
Axie Origins gameplay
You can play in Arena Mode, which is player-versus-player live battles against someone somewhere else in the world. Or you could be fighting against the computer in Adventure Mode. In Adventure Mode, you move through increasingly difficult levels, battling non-Axie enemies.
You take turns with your opponent to do damage to each other. The amount of damage you can do depends on the strength or type of your Axie’s abilities. All of this information is outlined on a card, similar to how Pokémon cards show a Pokémon’s traits.
You only have a certain amount of energy, which means the number of attacks you can do during your turn is limited. The most successful players use their energy tactically to inflict the most amount of damage on their opponents.
When your opponent attacks you, your Axie, if it has that required trait, is able to defend or deflect the attack. But it costs energy to defend against an attack, so it’s not always worth doing. Sometimes, it’s necessary to sacrifice an Axie in order to win the battle.
Moreover, Axie Origins introduced Runes and Charms, game items that can enhance your performance.
Sky Mavis introduced Axie Infinity: Origin season 4 in May 2023. Aside from a reworked reward structure and updated graphics, much of the gameplay remained the same as the previous seasons.
Axie Infinity NFTs: Axies and Lands
Being a blockchain game, there’s much more to Axie Infinity than simply earning crypto tokens. The Axie universe is complex and decentralized and has become ever more community-centered in the past few years.
How? By allowing players to own their in-game items as non-fungible tokens (NFTs). This allows holders to contribute to the future of Axie Infinity. Let’s get to know the NFTs in Axie Infinity.
Axies: the NFT heroes to play Axie Infinity
Despite the fact that the game’s aesthetics are inspired by Pokémon, the in-game NFT characters are actually based on Axolotls, the Mexican walking fish. They are built to the ERC-721 standard, which means they’re non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Once someone buys Axies, they own it as digital assets.
Axies NFTs are the key to the entire Axie Infinity game. While buying axies is the easiest way to increase your Axie army, you can also breed axies using SLP tokens. Moreover, once you own them as in-game items, this means you can also sell them on the Axie Infinity marketplace for profit.
Each Axie is unique and can perform differently in battles according to your strategy, the opponents, and its own class, parts, genes, and so on. Their rarity is directly connected to their value in the market.
Lands: your own properties in the Axie metaverse
Axie Infinity’s first land sale took place in 2019. It also comes in the form of NFTs, and there are five types, in order of cost:
In July 2022, Axie Infinity introduced Land staking for holders. Stakers can earn AXS tokens as a reward for locking up their assets. However, it wasn’t until the launch of Axie Homeland’s first Alpha, in December 2022 that gamers got to play with these NFTs.
In this new game within the Axie universe, players can simulate farming in their lands, grow plants, sow minerals, and build their kingdoms as they want.
What is Axie Experience Points (AXP)?
AXP, short for Axie Experience Points, is a significant addition to the Axie Infinity universe. It introduces a vertical progression system for axies, transforming them from mere digital collectibles into companions that can level up over time.
Players can now earn AXP by participating in Origins gameplay, specifically through ranked battles, with each winning Axie on the team gaining 150 AXP per battle. The current mechanism allows a maximum of 4500 AXP to be earned daily for an Axie.
Important to note that AXP earned through gaming activities is off-chain. To bring things on-chain, users’ Axies need to undergo a process called “Ascension.”
The benefit of this design is clear. By employing dynamic on-chain NFTs progression, it avoids unnecessary NFT supply increases. Instead, this approach aims to enhance the value, power, and aesthetics of individual Axies, which in turn helps sustainability.
Axie Infinity in-game tokens
The Axie Infinity game ecosystem and economy are ruled by two cryptocurrency tokens: Axie Infinity Shard AXS tokens and Smooth Love Potion SLP tokens.
AXS stands for Axie Infinity Shard and it’s the token that makes the Axie Infinity universe turn. It serves as a governance token, which means that holders can use it to vote on how the game develops. The more AXS they hold, the more voting power they have.
Holders of AXS can also stake the token for rewards. Users can go to the AXS Staking Dashboard to find the number of tokens staked, the current estimated APR and the AXS price. It also has information on how many tokens are given out as daily rewards and the current circulating supply.
AXS reached its all-time high on November 6th, 2021. Since then, it’s followed most other cryptocurrencies on a downward trend and now sits well off its peak. Whether it can regain those levels depends on how Sky Mavis can take the game forward.
Smooth Love Potion is an in-game token that has one very specific function. Players use SLP to breed new Axie NFTs. It’s an ERC-20 token and is available to swap and purchase on a variety of centralized and decentralized exchanges. Most players prefer to earn it by beating opponents in battle.
It reached an all-time high July 31st, 2021 when it reached $0.399. Similar to AXS, it’s fallen far from that peak. You can see how much it’s dropped by visiting a token price site.
The price of SLP has caused controversy among the Axie Infinity community. In 2021, when gamers were earning and selling SLP to make a living, Axie Infinity became the poster boy for the redistributive power of web3.
As the rising price of SLP relied on a constantly-growing user base, Axie Infinity’s drop in popularity has led to a corresponding fall in the token’s price. The gamers who made a living from the game, most of whom come from south-east Asia, can no longer play it to make the money they used to.
Can I play Axie Infinity for free?
Yes, you can. Players need three Axie NFTs to start playing Axie Infinity. While you can play Axie Infinity Origins without buying axies, you won’t really get the play-to-earn mechanics without them. The cheapest axies are currently on sale for $3, so it costs about $9 to start.
Previously, when the game was at the height of its popularity on Axie Classic and you needed to buy NFTs to play, the entry costs were over $1,000. The most expensive Axie ever traded is Angel, when it changed hands for 300 ETH ($131,673 at the time of sale).
How to make money playing Axie Infinity
This is a tricky question to answer because the days of serious earning potential from Axie Infinity appear to be in the past. This isn’t to say they can’t come again, but as things stand, it will take a long long time to earn money playing Axie Infinity.
There are other ways to make money with the game, though. See below:
- Play to earn daily and weekly mission rewards in the game’s current season.
- Stake Land and earn rewards for doing so. We have an article all about land staking in Axie Infinity.
- Stake AXS tokens to earn a healthy yearly return.
- You can also take the risky option of speculating on the price of AXS. If you think there’s a good chance that it will appreciate in value over the coming months and years, you can buy some AXS now and wait for it to go up. If you do, you can sell it for a profit.
- Flip Axies and Lands: similarly, you can buy Axie in-game items and either wait for them to grow in value or develop it to sell for a higher price.
Bear in mind this DappRadar does not advise risky strategies.
Is the in-game economy sustainable?
The game is developing towards a more sustainable economy. In the early days of the popular Axie Infinity Classic, when everything relied on a constant influx of new players, it was far from sustainable.
While it relied on three assets: SLP, AXS and Axies, developers kept pushing out a constant stream of the former while players kept breeding the latter. It’s similar to a central bank continually printing more money to give to more people and giving those people their own printing press and unlimited ink.
To compound the negative effects of their poorly-planned in-game economy, Sky Mavis suffered a $600 million hack in March 2022. Hackers took over the voting nodes that control decision-making for the network and took a record-breaking amount of USDC and ETH from the system.
The Ronin bridge to the Ethereum mainnet returned online in June 2022, and Sky Mavis has largely repaid users’ stolen funds. But the exploit didn’t come without a cost, both reputational and fiscal.
However, with a successful launch and adoption of Axie Infinity Origin, followed by the hyped Alpha seasons of Axie Homeland, the tides begin to turn.
The impact of Axie Infinity on the blockchain gaming industry
The effect that Axie Infinity has had on the world of blockchain games since its launch is undeniable. In the middle of 2023 and when games face new challenges, such as sustainable tokenomics, metaverse worlds, blockchain interoperability, and of course, quality gameplay, the brand continues to be a pillar of innovation.
As Axie evolves, so does the broader web3 gaming industry, and it’s often a joint work.
One of the innovative features of Homeland is that it allows DeFi features using the land of the game. This means that players can use their land to earn yields by staking and liquidity provision on the decentralized exchange (DEX) platform, Katana. Players can also earn additional income by renting their land to other players. This adds a new layer of gameplay to the Axie Infinity ecosystem, allowing players to earn rewards and generate passive income through their land NFTs.Sara Gherghelas, Blockchain Analyst at DappRadar
What plans does Sky Mavis have for the future of Axie Infinity?
Despite facing one of the largest DeFi hacks in history, Axie Infinity has continued to innovate and push forward. With Axie Homeland and Origins going on full speed, game developers seem to be giving the Axie universe a whole new meaning.
It seems that Sky Mavis is focused on broadening the Axie Infinity ecosystem and creating genuinely fun games that people will want to play for reasons beyond making money – without lacking in improving the tokenomics.
The Axie community is expecting great things from both games, as well as how they evolve to be integrated. These new developments show that Axie Infinity is working hard to enhance its gaming ecosystem as a whole.
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