This article first appeared on iMoney Philippines and has been edited for local audiences.
Axie Infinity is an NFT game that’s been around since 2018 and its gameplay is similar to Pokemon games (where it takes inspiration from). You assemble a team of three cute creatures called Axies and go on adventures, conquer different levels, and battle other players in the Arena. There are upcoming features in the game where players can even build a land-based kingdom for their pets.
This game is being developed by Sky Mavis, a technology-focused game studio founded in early 2018 whose headquarters is located in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam.
The unique thing about this game is that it rewards players for every win they achieve in the game. The reward is in the form of cryptocurrencies called Smooth Love Potion (SLP) and Axie Infinity token (AXS).
To learn more about the game, you can read their white paper here which covers the principles behind the cryptocurrencies.
But before we dive deep into the Axie ecosystem, it’s important to understand how being an NFT game makes it different from a regular game, even from a gamer’s standpoint. This will give you a more thorough understanding of the financial risks and rewards of the game, outside its cryptocurrency element.
So what are Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and why should you care?
Non-fungible tokens, aka NFTs, are unique digital assets created in the Ethereum blockchain. These assets can be in the form of art, music, virtual real estate, and even games!
The idea is that while anything digital can be copied an infinite amount of times, owning an NFT tells people that you own the original version. So owning the NFT of a song tells the world that you own the first digital copy of it. It is this certification that gives NFT value.
In opensea.io, artwork is auctioned and sold for a good amount of money every day. Meanwhile, music NFTs have generated $100 million in sales in just 30 days – this space alone is a direction that could revolutionise how we purchase music.
Axie Infinity generates NFTs in the form of Axies. Each being a unique virtual creature that can be sold.
How can you earn money by playing Axie Infinity?
At the moment, there are three ways for players to earn from the game:
SLP farming or mining
The game guarantees 150 SLPs a day just by accomplishing some tasks. Players have a 100 SLP cap per day for the adventure mode and a 50 SLP reward for completing all the daily quests. This alone could already score you RM180 (as of July 26, 2021) per day based on the SLP rate upon writing.
Breed Axies for sale
Breeding Axies require mating two unrelated Axies. While you may need to spend some SLPs and AXS to do this, you will be able to create a new Axie at a considerably lower cost than buying one. Then you can sell the Axies in the marketplace for profit.
Yes, it’s possible to flip Axies. Buy Axies at a lower cost and sell them when the price goes up. Upon writing, we managed to flip a few Axies and earn a few hundred dollars for profit.
The real challenge of the game’s sustainability
With all that said, we come down to the most important point of the game – its sustainability. You can’t find it in any analysis charts of the most prolific crypto or stock traders, it really has nothing to do with that.
It’s not population control
With many people playing the game, there is the risk of an oversupply of Axies. If this happens, supply will outstrip demand and prices will adjust downwards; this in turn will lower exchange rates for SLPs and AXS.
But those things have been addressed by the developers in their game road map. Somewhere down the road, people will be incentivized to spend their Axies and remove them from circulation, solving the issue of overpopulation and oversupply in their marketplace.
There are also plans to add additional utilities to Axies, making them do more meaningful things than just battle non-stop to earn those coins.
It’s not pump and dump of their cryptocurrency
Stocks and crypto traders and experts may argue that the in-game cryptocurrency could easily be manipulated. However, the game developers have taken steps to mitigate this risk by ensuring that players are forced to hold on to their SLPs for 15 days before they can sell it to exchanges. Once it’s back to circulation, it’s returned to the players as a reward.
Breeders currently drive the demand for more SLPs and AXS, which is one of the reasons why their prices are gradually increasing. As breeders spend currency to make more Axies, the game keeps players from dumping their tokens with its 15 days claim policy in place.
The game’s stability and its devs playing catch up
Due to its overwhelming growth in the past weeks and months, it’s become a challenge for the devs to keep their servers secure and running smoothly. Just recently, the game encountered a disruption of service due to a DDoS attack. On top of that, with our experience playing the game in the past two weeks, it can get really frustrating to play the game only to be disconnected a few seconds after or right when you’re about to win. A lot of times, you can’t even play whenever you want to due to the influx of players flooding their servers the entire day.
There will be days where you won’t hit your minimum target SLPs because the server just won’t let you play, and that would feel like a forced unpaid time off from work. Time is money in this game, after all.
And as the game becomes more unstable due to the influx of more players, you can’t help but be more concerned about the developers’ capability to meet server demands and prioritizing security than anything else about the game. Whether or not they could follow through with their roadmap is still up in the air as those that follow video game news know that development plans are often changed or cancelled.
This game is a unicorn in the NFT gaming space much like Bitcoin is to cryptocurrency, but it’s still in its alpha stage and a lot of improvements need to be made to have full confidence that this game will stick around for good.
Should you throw your money at this game to play?
First of all, you should only risk money you can afford to lose.
Secondly, before jumping on the bandwagon, at least learn how to buy, sell, and transfer cryptocurrencies especially in the Web3 blockchain. There are so many intricacies in claiming, transferring, and exchanging the game’s tokens for real money, especially since the AXS and SLP currencies cannot be traded on any Securities Commission Malaysia approved coin exchanges.
If you’re willing to take the risk of using unregulated coin exchanges, it is something you can look into. Otherwise, take a step back or wait to see if local exchanges like Luno are willing to start supporting AXS and SLP.