Monster-battle NFT game Axie Infinity soars in popularity among developing nations

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It’s no secret that video-game streaming platforms, such as Twitch, have made it possible for players to earn money by broadcasting their gaming experience to an audience of gaming enthusiasts. But now, the tokenomics of blockchain-powered digital games like Axie Infinity have made it possible for users to make money by simply playing the game. At the time of publication, Axie Infinity has over 360,000 concurrent players.

Based on data from ActivePlayer.io, while the United States ranks third in terms of active Axie Infinity players, all other countries on the list are developing nations. An estimated 40% of players are based in the Philippines, alone. According to Twitter user, Saharan-sub, Axie Infinity players in Ghana can make approximately 854 to 2,562 Ghanaian cedis per month ($140 to $420), which is several times higher than the country’s minimum wage.

Axie Infinity was created by Vietnamese video game developer Sky Mavis in 2018. The game contains creatures called “Axies” that players collect and use to duel other players and enemies. Every Axie is a nonfungible token, or NFT, minted on the Ethereum blockchain.

One prominent way to earn money is to buy and sell Axies on the marketplace. Axies come in different rarity types, with varying strengths and attributes. Most Axies have very weak statistics, but a select few are very strong, created through trial-and-error breeding. These are the most sought-after. Each Axie can only be bred a set number of times for population control, thereby creating scarcity.

There are three digital currencies required for breeding Axies: the Smooth Love Potion (SLP), the Axie Infinity Shard (AXS), and Ethereum (ETH), which is used for gas fees. Game insights from Chill Axie listed the requirements for breeding a rare top-tier Axie as 10,200 SLPs ($683.90), 1 AXS ($137.81), and 0.1813 ETH ($823.30), for a total cost of $1,645.01.

Marketplace data suggests that over 2 million Axies were bought and sold in the past few months — amounting to 140,956.7 ETH ($639.5 million). The record for the most expensive Axie ever sold was achieved the year prior for 300 ETH, which amounts to $1.375 million now.

But the potential to earn income isn’t limited to buying and selling Axies. By completing daily quests, defeating monsters and besting other players in arenas, users can receive SLPs as rewards. One can then proceed to sell them on a cryptocurrency exchange. In July, leaked videos showed entire farms consisting of smartphones and other electronic devices dedicated to harvesting SLPs on Axie Infinity. Some players have rallied against these farms, referring to them as an abuse of the game’s play-to-earn ecosystem.