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Play-to-earn: What is Axie Infinity(AXS)?

Play-to-earn: What is Axie Infinity(AXS)?

It’s 2021, and that means you can earn money by playing games and breeding virtual pets. An easy way to think of Axie Infinity is to imagine a blockchain game that combines Pokémon, CryptoKitties, and card game elements.

Non-fungible token (NFT) crypto collectibles like artwork and videos exploded in popularity in early 2021, but several blockchain-based video games had already been building in the space before most people took notice.

What is Axie Infinity?

Axie Infinity is a monster-battling game where you pit teams of cute monsters called Axies against each other in battles.

In-game items are represented by NFTs, or non-fungible tokens. These cryptographically unique tokens can be linked with digital content; in Axie Infinity's case, the Axies and land plots that populate the game. Unlike conventional in-game items, the NFT confers ownership on the buyer; you can trade Axies on the game's marketplace for real money.

How does Axie Infinity work?

As mentioned, Axie Infinity is built entirely around NFT items—and right now, there’s no way to play unless you buy the three Axie NFTs needed to create your first team.

They can be purchased from the official Axie marketplace via your Ronin wallet, which you’ll connect to the game. You can play on PC, Mac, Android, or iOS and take your Axies into battle to win rewards.

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What makes Axie Infinity special?

Axie Infinity is inspired by Nintendo’s beloved Pokémon series, and sees you collect and pit adorable monsters against each other in cartoonish combat. Getting started isn’t simple or cheap, however, and there’s a vastly larger upfront investment needed than your average PlayStation or Xbox game. The upside, however, is that you own your Axie NFTs and can resell them, plus its “play-to-earn” approach rewards you with crypto tokens that can be exchanged for money.

Play-to-earn” might sound like a marketing phrase or a gimmicky hook, but we’re already seeing evidence of a player-owned economy taking shape around the game.

For example, there are thousands of “Axie scholars” through programs in which Axie owners loan their NFTs to other players to use and earn with. The profits are divided amongst the parties, and in countries, people are playing Axie to support their families. Whether that proves to be a sustainable model remains to be seen, but it’s a potentially powerful and revolutionary idea that is already being put into practice.

What is the AXS token?

Axis Infinity Shard (AXS) is the native governance token of Axie Infinity. Currently, you can use AXS to pay for breeding fees. In the future, AXS holders will be able to vote on decisions regarding the game and its future development, as well as stake AXS tokens to earn rewards within the game.

Over time, Axie Infinity plans to gradually shift into a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) to allow for community governance.

The Future of Axie Infinity

Axie Infinity blew up in a big way in late June 2021, not long after the Ronin transition and the announcement of a $7.5 million Series A funding round featuring Mark Cuban and Alexis Ohanian, among others. Sky Mavis also has support from major game publisher Ubisoft, which mentored the team in its Entrepreneur’s Lab accelerator program and aided the Ronin launch.

The AXS token saw a 600% increase in value within a month, and the game made nearly $85 million within a month between June and July. According to Sky Mavis, Axie Infinity was generating more fees than either the Bitcoin or Ethereum protocol during a seven-day span in July 2021. Axie Infinity reportedly had more than 500,000 daily active users as of mid-July.

However, the sudden surge in interest also led to widespread server problems, which were exacerbated by a DDOS attack and also hosting issues. It’s a similar problem to what NBA Top Shot faced as it quickly transformed from a niche crypto project into a big deal, and it may take some time for the game to stabilize.


Sky Mavis has an expansive roadmap for the game ahead, including the addition of gameplay based around its land NFTs, which let players customize the terrain and develop shareable experiences. It’s another aspect that will help expand Axie Infinity beyond simply battling and breeding monsters.

AXS staking and rewards are due in Q3 2021, with the land gameplay alpha test due in Q4. In 2022, Axie Infinity will expand its AXS ecosystem with governance and further play-to-earn elements, with land gameplay becoming available to all players in the first half of the year.

Axie Infinity also plans to eventually roll out a way of playing without the enormous initial investment, by giving new users non-transferrable Axies with “limited earning potential.”