NFT-based online video games aren't anything new. They have been around since at least 2017 with the launch of the ever-popular CryptoKitties, and many can be considered moderately successful.
However, Axie Infinity is arguably different from anything that has come before it. With a market capitalization of more than $2 billion (as of writing) and projected revenues of more than $1 billion this year, it is safe to say that Axie Infinity has achieved staggering success.
Here, we take a look at everything you need to know about what many agree is the most popular blockchain game of 2021.
What Is Axie Infinity (AXS)?
Axie Infinity is a popular blockchain game that was inspired by the massively successful Pokemon game series. It features an open-ended, massively flexible gameplay that allows players to collect different digital pets known as Axies, which can be raised, battled, and traded throughout the ever-expanding Axie ecosystem.
As of August 2021, Axie Infinity is currently the number one Ethereum-based gaming DApp by weekly on-chain volume. It is also one of the top three most popular gaming DApps by user counts — with over 100,000 unique weekly users.
The platform is designed to provide a fun, accessible, and educational way to gain exposure to the capabilities of blockchain technology. It has already been successful in executing this vision, as Axie Infinity is now a prominent on-ramp to the blockchain industry in many developing countries.
What Are AXS and SLP?
There are two main tokens used in the Axie Infinity ecosystem: Axie Infinity Shards (AXS) and Smooth Love Potions (formerly Small Love Potion) (SLP). As the platform’s native governance token, AXS holders form part of Axie's decentralized organization and can help shape the development of the platform — such as by deciding how treasury funds should be spent or how the ecosystem fund is allocated. SLP, on the other hand, is earned by playing the game and can be used to breed new Axies.
Both AXS and SLP are ERC-20 tokens tradeable on the Ethereum network.
Axie Infinity conducted the final phase of its token sale on the Binance Launchpad, raising a total of $2.97 million. It is being developed by a technology-focused game studio, Sky Mavis, which is led by accomplished entrepreneur and engineer, Trung Nguyen, experienced business developer, Aleksander Larsen (COO), and Viet Anh Ho — Sky Mavis' CTO and a skilled engineer who previously held roles at Google and PayPal.
AXS Use Cases
As of August 2021, the AXS token is primarily used for breeding new Axies. However, there are plans to add further functionality for the token, including:
AXS holders will soon be able to stake their tokens to earn a proportionate chunk of the AXS inflation. This feature is scheduled to launch in 2021.
Axie Infinity is designed to transition to a decentralized governance system, which sees AXS stakers take over some of the decisions surrounding the development of the platform. It is expected that Sky Mavis will no longer have the majority vote by October 2023. Governance features are expected to launch in 2021, whereas Axie Infinity should be governed by a fully decentralized organization by late 2023. Some things voters may have a say over could include: how treasury funds are spent and which features are prioritized in the development roadmap.
Users may need to hold AXS to participate in future Axie, Land, or item sales.
How Does Axie Infinity Work?
Axie Infinity is a battle game that allows users to battle their Axies in real-time. Each Axie is unique and represented by an ERC-721 non-fungible token (NFT).
Each Axie has four different stats: Health, Morale, Skill, and Speed. Each of these plays a crucial role in Axie's battle mechanics since they decide how much damage the Axie can take, who attacks first, and how much damage it can dish out, etc.
Axies come in one of either six normal classes (Aquatic, Beast, Bird, Bug, Plant, or Reptile) or one of three secret classes (Dawn, Dusk, or Mech). Different classes have their strengths and weaknesses that make them more or less effective against certain other classes. For example, Aquatics are strong against Beast, Bug, and Mech Axies, but are weak against Reptile, Plant, and Dusk Axies. They also affect Axie's stats.
An Axie is comprised of six body parts: back, ears, eyes, horns, mouth, and tail. Barring the eyes and ears, these parts each have an ability associated with them, and therefore influence the Axie’s capabilities in battle.
Beyond being used to earn SLP by participating in quests, PVP Arena, and Adventure Mode, Axies can also be bred to create potentially rare and powerful combinations. Each Axie can only be bred a maximum of 7 times to limit the Axie population. This costs 4 AXS plus a variable number of SLPs — the first breeding cycle costs 150 SLP, whereas this increases to 3,150 on the seventh (and last).
Each body part of an Axie has three genes associated with it: one dominant (D), one recessive (R1), and one minor recessive (R2) gene. Dominant genes have a 37.5% chance of being passed down to any offspring, whereas this drops to 9.375% for recessive genes, and 3.125% for minor recessive genes.
A publicly available calculator can be used to calculate the odds that an offspring of any two Axies will have specific traits.
Some of the rarest types of Axies are those with Mystic parts — which are only found in some of the original batches of Axies sold during the pre-sale. 25% of the original batch of 4,088 Axies (known as Origins) have Mystic parts, out of these a total of 19 triple mystics and 3 quad mystics were created. So far, all three of the most expensive Axies ever sold were triple mystics — including #2761, #3224, and #1046, which sold for 200, 200, and 300 ETH respectively.
As of August 2021, one of the last remaining quadruple mystics (#991) is currently listed for sale at 5,000 ETH. Mystic traits cannot be passed down.
A variety of in-game resources are tokenized and tradeable on P2P marketplaces. These include plots of land which users can customize with various items. In total, the Axie Infinity world of Lunacia consists of 90,601 plots of land, spread across seven types (Savannah, Forest, Arctic, Mystic, Genesis, Lunas Landing, and Map).
Axie Infinity is also developing a Lunacia SDK, which players and developers will be able to use to create additional game experiences using Axie Infinity art assets.
Since it first launched in 2018, Axie Infinity has undergone several upgrades and updates. The breeding game, battle game, and card battle game are now fully operational — whereas land gameplay is in internal testing. Land, items, and Axies have now been migrated to the Ronin sidechain. Some near-term roadmap items include the launch of land gameplay in H1 2022, followed by the alpha launch of the Lunacia SDK in H2 2022.
The game primarily operates on the Ethereum blockchain, but the development team behind the game is also building a high-speed side-chain solution known as Ronin. This is designed to improve the player experience by increasing speed and practically eliminating gas fees while retaining the security that comes with the Ethereum blockchain.
Play-to-Earn: How Does it Work?
Axie Infinity has helped to define a new game genre, known as play-to-earn since it allows users to earn an income in the form AXS, SLP, and items just from playing the game.
New players will need to either buy (or borrow) a minimum of three Axies to begin playing. As of writing, the cheapest available Axies cost somewhere between $70 to $250 a pop. Whereas, Axies with any sort of desirable body parts, abilities, or skills will likely cost significantly more. This can pose a significant barrier to entry for new players.
What Is A Scholarship In Axie Infinity?
Axie Infinity is unusual in the fact that it is an entire thriving micro-economy unto itself. There are thousands of players grinding for AXS and SLP, breeding and battling Axies, and buying and selling Axies, Land, and a variety of other rare items to generate an income.
The play-to-earn characteristics of Axie Infinity have even led to the formation of the Axie Infinity scholarship economy, which essentially sees well-heeled players, known as Managers, lend out a team of three Axies to workers, known as Scholars.
These Scholars then use the team of Axies to grind for SLP and other rare items and share the loot with the Managers. The Manager might also provide educational resources and mentoring to the Scholar, helping to maximize their yield per day.
It's important to note that multi-accounts in Axie Infinity are prohibited. As such, scholarships are a way for Managers to deploy more than three Axies at a time without getting banned. Any user caught with multi-accounts risks having their Axies banned — earning it a banned mark on Axie Infinity Marketplace — while temporarily limiting how it engages with the service.
As a result, Managers must ensure that their Scholars are not breaking the rules — or risk getting their Axies either temporarily or permanently blocked from engaging with the game.