Axie Infinity: Online games where people win by playing are transforming the game | Kiowa County Press

Welcome to the latest gaming craze. Ira Lichi

Drew Cattanach, University of Westminster

The ultimate goal of video games has always been to have fun. Whether it’s Space Invaders, Sonic, or Red Dead Redemption, you press the start button and do your thing until the end of the game, then you probably wipe the sweat off your hands and start over.

But a new class of games is emerging where playing is an investment opportunity – and even potentially a way to earn a living. So-called play-to-earn games like Axie Infinity and The Sandbox have exploded in popularity recently.

What they have in common with many previous classics is that they include complex economic ecosystems. In the 1980s blockbuster Elite, for example, players traveled from planet to planet, trying to increase their credits by buying and selling things like weapons and goods. Or in The Sims life-simulation franchise, players buy everything from pizzas to houses with Simoleons.

But in those older games, in-game currency had no real-world value. There have also been games like World of Warcraft where a gray market for trading in-game items and characters has developed around them. But play-to-earn games take this to a whole new level. So how do these games work and where do they go?

To infinity …

Leading this new space is Axie Infinity, a Pokémon-style game created by Vietnamese developer Sky Mavis. It has some 350,000 daily active users, with around 40% in the Philippines, with Venezuela and the United States being the next two largest markets.

The game revolves around cute, furry creatures called Axies, which players breed, acquire, train, use to complete challenges, and battle online. The object of the game is to obtain Small Love Potions (SLPs), which can be used to create new Axies which can then be deployed in-game.

SLPs also act as cryptocurrencies that can be bought and sold on a crypto exchange. Top players would earn 1,500 SLP ($435/PS317) per day from their Axies, although the price of SLP against the US dollar is constantly changing. It’s largely increased since 2020, so there’s an argument to keep them – or alternatively, sell while things are going well.

Axies themselves can be traded in real life on sites like Axie Marketplace as NFTs (non-fungible tokens). NFTs are digital collectibles that exist on online ledgers known as blockchains, and are best known for having recently taken the art world by storm.

In addition to Axies, other in-game items like real estate, flowers, barrels, and lamps are all tradeable as NFTs. These are all bought and sold using ethereum, which is the second largest cryptocurrency after bitcoin.

This is a welcome improvement over predecessors such as World of Warcraft, where trading in game gold and assets took place on unaffiliated auction sites, and was grounds for a ban on the game. game for a long time. By introducing a dedicated marketplace, NFTs and blockchain, trading around Axie Infinity and similar games is more secure and means players actually own the items in question.

To get started on Axie Infinity, players must purchase (or borrow) three Axies. They are available from $190 (PS138), though the current average is around $350, and higher tier, rare, or mystical Axies can sell for significantly more.

The most expensive Axie of all time, a mystical triple called Angel, sold for 300 ETH at the end of 2020, or around US$120,000 at the time. Meanwhile, some in-game real estate cost US$1.5 million earlier in 2021. Monthly trading volumes for all Axie Infinity NFTs currently stand at US$170 million.

Finally, there is another cryptocurrency associated with this game called the Axie Infinity Shard (AXS). Investors in AXS have voting rights in the governance of the gaming ecosystem and can also use it to get a share of the community treasury. AXS has also seen an impressive increase recently, growing about sixfold in recent weeks. It is the biggest gaming cryptocurrency in the market.

…And beyond

Besides Axie Infinity, CryptoKitties is another play-to-earn game that has built up a substantial following. In this game, players buy, breed, and trade digital cats using Ethereum. Again, these cats are NFTs, which generate wealth not only for the developers but also for the gaming community. The most expensive CryptoKitty sold to date, which was called Dragon, was being sold for 600 ETH (about $170,000 at the time).

In addition to generating real revenue for players, play-to-earn games also create communities where players and creators can meet, share wisdom, and make deals with each other. A good example of this is The Sandbox, a game in the same genre as Minecraft where players build things and trade with each other in the form of NFTs.

This low-key economy is driven by its own cryptocurrency, SAND. One way to create SAND is to sell parcels of digital real estate called LAND, which players can purchase for their storefront to share experiences with world visitors. In February alone, the game announced that a record 2,352 LAND plots had been sold for a total of US$2.8 million.

With such a level of interest, big brands see the potential to take a slice of this expanding metaverse. For example, The Walking Dead will soon open on the platform, allowing players to enter an in-game zombie world, in what Sandbox says is a step towards a “virtual amusement park”. Brands like these are likely to attract a more mainstream audience to the platform.

Now that games like these are possible, it seems likely they’re here to stay. Many games have supported online communities in the past, but by adding the opportunity for financial gain, play-to-win games will potentially lead to even more thriving communities in the future. If this corner of the game is new to you, it’s time to start keeping a close eye.

The conversation

Drew Cattanach, Lecturer in Computer Game Development, University of Westminster

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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