Axie Infinity is so far the biggest play-to-earn game ever. It is also seen as one of the prominent pioneers of blockchain gaming. The game was an instant hit when it was released, and despite many challenges, it has grown in strength.
At one point, Axie Infinity had over 1 million daily users and over 5 million monthly. The game is also the most widely used application in crypto.
With this in mind, we wanted to explore the world of Axie infinity in this comprehensive guide. We will look at what it is, how the game started, why it’s so popular and much more.
What is Axie Infinity
Axie Infinity is an NFT-based play-to-earn blockchain game where users breed, collect, and fight adorable monsters called axies. Initially, the game was built on the Ethereum network. However, due to network congestion, high gas fees, and lack of enough scalability options, Axie Infinity migrated to Ronin, a much better EVM side chain.
The game was founded by Sky Mavis, a Vietnamese gaming studio that began operations in 2018. It is widely accepted that Axie Infinity is inspired by Pokémon and Tamagotchi, two popular pet monster-based games from Japan.
The premise behind Axie Infinity is straightforward. Users earn in-game currency (SLPs) by participating in various activities. Each axie is backed by an NFT and is the basis of participating in the Axie Infinity ecosystem.
Each user needs at least three axies to get started. According to BeInCrypto Research, Axie Infinity has hit $4 billion in lifetime NFT sales (mostly Axies), making it the most successful NFT-based project in history. Sky Mavis, the developer behind the game, was also the first unicorn in the P2E space after a valuation of $3 billion.
How It All Started
Axie Infinity was launched officially in March 2018. Initially, the game was not envisioned as a P2E project with such massive user engagement. The vision was to make Axie Infinity a simple and effective way to promote wide-scale blockchain use.
It is also believed that the game was primarily inspired by Crypto Kitties, one of the first blockchain games at the time. In fact, one of the leading Axie developers, Nguyen Thanh Trung, had spent time and money playing Crypto Kitties before he decided to launch his own game.
Ultimately, Trung wanted to combine the blockchain aspects of Crypto Kitties with the exciting gameplay of Pokémon. This is how Axie Infinity was born. The game has achieved several vital milestones defining its growth over the last few years.
First, a few months after the initial launch, the team released the first Battle mode, which a card-based battle system would later follow. We are going to talk more about these highlights later in the post.
Axie Infinity: Exponential Growth and Development
Axie’s rise to the top has been fast, surprising, and pioneering in many respects. When you look at the stats, you can’t help but marvel at how this game has impacted the blockchain industry. Based on this analysis by ChainDeBreif, in the first month after its launch, Axie Infinity had attracted nearly 40,000 daily active users.
The analysis also showed that over 45,000 axies had been purchased, and monthly volume had reached $8 million. The game would see explosive growth in monthly trade volume later that year.
By the time it was four months old, monthly volume had reached $300 million, daily active players were at 500,000, while the total number of Axie holders had reached 475,000.
The AXS Bull Run
The game also saw substantive growth in the value of its Axie Infinity Shards (AXS), its governance token. During its peak, AXS was trading at well over $200 with a market cap of over $10 billion. The game also hit nearly 2.7 million active users during its peak.
Although Axie Infinity has declined in some ways, it remains one of the most valuable NFT projects of all time. Besides, Axie infinity still has a total of 2.8 million unique addresses with over 11 million axie holders.
The downside to this, however, is that over 97% of all these wallets hold exactly three axies. Not at least, but exactly. This means that most people do not go beyond the original three axies they get when they sign up. Remember, owning more than three axies in the game is still possible.
Massive Popularity in The Philippines
Although to most people, Axie Infinity is just a game, in the Philippines, Vietnam, and a few other countries in Asia, this was a life-changing innovation. The play-to-earn format offered meant that people could explore the Axie universe as an income-generating activity.
No country did this better than the Philippines. Statista states that the Philippines accounted for over 40% of the global Axie Infinity user base. Early adopters of Axies in the country went on to reap the rewards.
There were even stories of people quitting their full-time jobs to focus on Axie infinity. Players bought houses with the earnings they received from Axie Infinity. According to Sky Mavis, the game’s popularity in Asia was primarily driven by three main factors.
First, the region has a robust gaming culture, and Axie provides a unique twist to traditional video games. For the first time in history, gamers in Asia had the chance to play and earn money in the process.
Sky Mavis also added that the wide-scale adoption of smartphones and the internet made it easier for folks to access and play the game. Finally, most gamers in the region are relatively proficient in English.
This helped to lower the language barriers associated with such games. Nonetheless, Axie Infinity’s popularity in Asia has dropped significantly as the crypto industry enters the bear market.
What Are Axies Anyway?
Axies are NFT-based virtual pets that users breed, collect, and battle in Axie Infinity. Each Axie is unique and has certain specific traits that determine how effective it will be in the battles. However, there are four main metrics or stats to watch for. Here they are:
- HP – This refers to the maximum amount of damage the Axie can take before it gets knocked out.
- Morale – The stat defines the motivation of an Axie. It increases the likelihood of a critical strike and the chance to enter Last Stand.
- Skill – The metric determines the extra damage an Axie can cause.
- Speed – The stat will determine the battle order and turn sequence in every round.
Also, Axies are categorized into six different classes. This includes Plant, Aqua, Reptile, Beast, Bug, and Bird. The class under which the Axie falls determines its strength and weaknesses.
Axie Infinity: The P2E Mechanics
There is no doubt that the key selling point for Axie Infinity is the fact that it’s a play-to-earn game. So, the next question is how you earn from the game. First, please remember that all game earnings are paid in Smooth Love Potion or SLP.
The SLP can then be exchanged for money in any exchange. The dollar amount you get depends on the price of SLP in the market. With that said, there are several ways to earn from Axie Infinity. First, you can collect Axies and wait for the prices to go up. Remember, Axies are all NFT-backed, so they are, in essence, digital collectibles in nature.
Secondly, you can also breed and sell Axies in the in-game marketplace. Breeding simply puts together two axies to produce an offspring with better features. The price of the offspring is determined by regular demand and supply dynamics.
Thirdly, there are also earnings in Axie Infinity battle modes. Here, you set up three axies and battle them out with other users for rewards.
This is basically a general view of the P2E mechanic. But it is not static. Things could still change in the future. Check out our guide here for more on how much you can earn from the game.
How To Get Started with Axie Infinity
If you are considering exploring the world of Axie Infinity, then there are a few simple steps you must take. But before we get to these steps, let’s give you a list of the most important things you need to play the game.
A digital wallet is designed to connect you to the game. While you are free to choose the wallet that works best for you, we highly recommend Metamask. You can also check out our detailed guide on some of the best P2E wallets in the market.
Get Ethereum Tokens
You will also need to have a few Ethereum tokens. These tokens will be used to buy Axies, giving you access to the game. The price of axies is not standard and depends on the floor price at any given time.
During their peak, Axies cost between $200 and $400. This figure has, however, fallen sharply in fact, right now, the floor price for an Axie is around $20. Nonetheless, ensure that the ETH tokens you intend to spend have been transferred from a central exchange or another wallet to Metamask.
Download and Install the Ronin Wallet
Axie Infinity itself issues the Ronin Wallet. You will need to use it to log in to the game. So, if you haven’t already, download and install your Ronin Wallet.
Afterward, head to the Axie website and log in with it. You will be required to create a user name and password. Just follow the prompts till the end.
Transfer ETH To the Ronin Wallet
When you log into Axie infinity for the first time, you will be redirected automatically to the Axie marketplace. However, before you make any purchase, the ETH in your metamask wallet must be transferred to the Ronin Wallet. You can check the video below on how to transfer crypto assets to the Ronin Wallet.
Buy Your First 3 Axies
As soon as the ETH transfer is reflected in the Ronin Wallet, it’s time to buy your first batch of 3 axies. All axies are purchased in the in-game marketplace. Please also note that every axie has its unique features and attributes.
These NFT-backed cute monsters will also sell for different prices. Do not just buy for the sake of buying. Do your research and target axies with the features that will make it easier for you to play the game. You can learn more about buying Axies in our article here.
Download the Sky Mavis Hub
Now that you have set up your account, it’s time to download the gaming platform. This is done through the Sky Mavis Hub. Simply head to the Axie infinity website, hit the Play Now button, and then download the Sky Mavis Hub, depending on your OS.
After the download is complete, install and open. You must create a new account for the Sky Mavis Hub. Just follow the prompts until you are done. Please note that it’s much safer to download Axie Infinity from the Sky Mavis Hub than anywhere else.
Set Up Your Team
The final step is to set up your Axie team. The game will have several spaces where you can place each axie. How you set up the team determines how effectively it performs. Each team also needs to have a name. Now, there are many tools you can use to optimize your team, including simulators and others. Check out this detailed article for more ideas.
Axie Infinity: Gameplay Guide and Tips
Axie Infinity may be a fun and exciting game. But there is a bit of a learning curve for folks who want to play. So, we are going to give you some ideas here.
Axie Infinity has two main game modes. This includes adventure mode and arena mode. Here is a breakdown of each.
The adventure mode involves a Player-vs-Environment approach where users battle monsters and earn experience points or EXP and SLP tokens. The mode is divided into different levels with varying degrees of difficulty.
The goal is to conquer as many levels as possible since this will allow you to accumulate EXP points and SLP. However, as part of a new game update, SLP earnings will be abolished in adventure mode after Season 20.
On the other hand, Arena mode is a PvP option where users battle each other to earn rewards. Arena mode in axie infinity is divided into three. The first category is the Practice mode. You must complete at least stage 6 in adventure mode to participate in this mode.
Secondly, users can also partake in the Ranked mode. Here you must complete at least stage 5 of adventure mode. The third category is the Tournament Mode. So far, the game is yet to release the unlocking mechanism, but it will certainly launch in the future.
If you are a beginner, start with adventure mode. This will allow you to learn the game and how it works and get acquainted with some of the things you need for arena mode.
Battle Order and Turn Sequence
At the heart of the Axie Infinity gameplay is the idea of battle. Whether you are playing PvE or PvP, you will ultimately be fighting axie monsters. You will therefore notice that there is a battle order in every round.
This appears at the top of your screen, and it shows which team goes first and the order to be followed. A turn sequence determines the battle order. For now, the sequence is Speed > Health > Axie ID. So, what does this mean?
First, the turn sequence above provides that the axies with the highest speed stats will go first. But in the event two or more axies have the same speed, the Axie with the lowest health among them takes the first turn.
But if both the speed and health are all the same, then the turn sequence will be determined solely by the Axie ID. In this case, the Axie with the lowest ID goes first. The battle order is automatically generated, so be careful how you field your axies.
Energy and Cards
When you step into your first battle in Axie Infinity, you will notice an allocation of Energy at the bottom right corner of your screen. You will also have cards in every battle round. Please note that how you manage energy and cards during a battle will determine if you win or not.
Now, every card in Axie infinity has four main attributes. The first one is the Cost which describes the energy you will need to play that card. For now, each card’s cost can be either 0 or 1.
Secondly, each card will have an Attack score. This shows the amount of damage the card can deal to the opponent. The higher the score, the more damage it can cause. Thirdly, every card will come with a shield. This one denotes the defensive power of that card or the total amount of damage it can take.
Ideally, you will play cards depending on what you intend to achieve. So, for example, if you want to deal damage, you want to play a card with the highest attack score.
There is also additional information at the bottom of each card that shows you the buffs and debuffs on each card (More on this below). For more on Axie Infinity cards and how they work, check our in-depth article here.
Buffs and Debuffs
You will also notice that some cards in Axie Infinity have Buffs and Debuffs. Each card gives these special bonus effects beyond the damage or shield scores. There are three main types of Buffs.
The first one increases attack damage by 20%. The second will increase morale by the same percentage while the third buff will enhance speed by also 20%. Now, when it comes to debuffs, there is a list of 14 options. We have broken them down in the table below:
|Aroma||The targeted axie will draw all incoming damages for a given time|
|Attack-||Reduces the damage of the attacking Axie by 20%|
|Chill||The affected Axie will not enter Last Stand|
|Fear||The targeted axie will miss its next attack|
|Fragile||The axie takes double damage in the next attack|
|Jinx||The target Axie loses the ability to land critical hits|
|Lethal||The target axie is assured a critical strike in the next attack|
|Morale||The morale of the target axie drops by 20%|
|Poison||Targeted Axie loses 2 Health Points for every card|
|Sleep||Shields will be disabled in the subsequent coming attacks|
|Speed-||Target axie loses speed by 20%|
|Stench||Affected Axie loses target priority in the coming round|
|Stun||The affected Axie will miss its first attack|
|Cannot be Healed||There is no recovery in Health or Healing. The Debuff cannot also be removed.|
Attacking and Battling
Axie Infinity is all about strategy. You simply have to look at what your opponent has and devise ways to beat them. The good thing about axie infinity is that it allows you to see your opponent’s cards and the capability they have on each axie.
However, several key factors will determine the damage caused by a given card. For example, users with better Skill Stats can cause more damage with a given card than someone with lower skills. Here are some other ways to enhance the damage:
- Ensure the axie uses a card from its class
- Try to use cards with Buffs and Debuff effects
- Check and see if the cards have bonus damage scores.
Nonetheless, at the end of the day, Axie Infinity is all about learning from experience. The more you play, the better you become.
How To Set Up Your Axies for Battle
Team builds in Axie Infinity will include 3 Axies. There is the front axie, the middle axie, and the back axie. Typically, the front axie will take the most significant damage from the opponent. It is therefore essential to ensure it has high base health.
As a rule, the front axie must have at least a 55 HP score. You may also want to combine it with decent shield cards. The middle axie, on the other hand, is designed to provide additional defense to the front Axie. But of course, this is not set in stone.
You can still decide to put attack axies here but based on experience, putting an extra layer of defense is much better. This will allow you to protect the backline Axie and ultimately use it to finish off the enemy. Also, combine the middle axie with high energy gain cards.
Finally, the third axie is designed for attack. So, you want to ensure that it can deal the highest possible damage. To make your attack even more effective, combine it with buff and debuff cards. For more on how to build some effective Axie teams, check this article.
Axie Infinity: Migration to Ronin and The Origin Reboot
The massive growth of Axie Infinity on Ethereum presented Sky Mavis with some challenges. The network had become too congested, and the gas fees for Axie fans were too high. This was interpreted as a massive barrier to scaling.
In June 2020, Axie Infinity confirmed that it would build the Ronin sidechain that would support the game moving forward. Ronin was designed to address the key deficiencies that came with Ethereum. Axie’s big move was to scale up the game and make transactions as fast and cheap as possible.
Ronin would later launch in February 2021. It ushered in a new era for axie infinity, but as it later turned out, the network would face a significant hack, the biggest in crypto history.
The $650 Million Ronin Hack
The Ronin hack was the most significant setback to date for Axie Infinity. In March 2022, hackers gained access to the Ronin bridge and stole assets worth $650 million. The assets were mainly in ETH, but there were also around 25.5 million USDC coins.
Five of the nine validator nodes on the Ronin Network had been comprised, something that gave the hacker full control of the entire network. The hack also took nearly seven days to be discovered. To make things worse, the hackers behind the breach went on to short AXS, knowing very well that the coin would plummet once the news was reported.
But interestingly enough, the breach took so long to discover that the hacker’s short position on the AXS coin had to be liquated due to lack of margin. Nonetheless, when the extent of the breach came into the public lame light, there was nowhere to hide for Sky Mavis.
The Ronin bridge was closed indefinitely as the developer tried to find the root cause of the problem. The network would, however, be reopened a few weeks later with all user funds reimbursed.
The Axie Origin Rebrand
After migrating to the Ronin Network, Axie Infinity decided to rebrand its game to Axie Origin. The plan was to reboot in phases. Origin would also feature a brand-new game interface, reworked in-game mechanics, and additional storylines and special effects.
In essence, Sky Mavis basically reinvented axie infinity to make it more ‘approachable’ to the mainstream audience. For instance, unlike in the initial Axie Infinity game, where you had to purchase 3 Axies to get started, Origin would offer the three for free.
According to Sky Mavis, this opened the door for anyone to play Axie infinity with minimal investment. There were also some changes on the cards. Instead of having both attack and defense values on each card, Origin cards would have just one value. Meta combinations have also increased in Origin.
Runes and Charms
More importantly, Axie Infinity also introduced Runes and Charms. There are entirely new features that did not exist in the initial Classic V2 game. According to most experts, the Origin reboot was designed to rekindle interest in Axie Infinity.
This appears to have worked because over 600,000 people had signed up for origin in just a month since launching. This was quite impressive because it came at a time when the broader crypto market faced major headwinds.
What Made Axie Infinity So Popular?
Although in the recent past, a lot of play-to-earn games have launched, none have so far reached the kind of success Axie Infinity did. So, why did the P2E game manage to be so popular? Here are a few reasons:
It Was a Trend Setter
While Axie infinity was never the first P2E blockchain game, it was the most significant trendsetter. Before Axie, the play-to-earn industry was relatively unknown.
But the game’s explosion managed to bring a lot of visibility to blockchain gaming. This then attracted so many players who felt that, at the time, Axie Infinity offered the best P2E option.
The idea of playing a blockchain game and earning some income was already exciting. But Axie infinity made it so thrilling that people were quitting their day jobs to focus entirely on the game.
This was largely because of the massive earning potential that the game offered. There was no P2E game at the time that paid more than Axie. And as more and more people stepped in, the more it expanded its potential.
Axie Infinity achieved almost instant credibility. It did not take long to get noticed, and before we knew it, the game was making headlines on all the major crypto websites.
There were also experts who felt there was nothing better out there and gave Axie infinity their endorsement. This enhanced confidence around the game, something that would ultimately help bring in more users.
There is, of course, a learning curve for first-time Axie players. But compared to most blockchain games or even traditional video games, it is relatively much easier to learn and play.
Axie infinity did not also require a lot of things to start. Users can set up an account and start earning if they have a digital wallet. This helped to expand the community of players.
What Does the Future Hold for Axie Infinity
Axie Infinity is now way off its peak. The game is also facing significant competition from other P2E games, and there are doubts about whether it has a future in this space.
Well, the game has made it clear that it is shifting from the Play-to-earn model to Play-and-earn. Let’s explore these concepts further below:
Play-to-earn Vs. Play-and-earn
Leading P2E games like Axie Infinity are often seen as essentially a job. So, instead of focusing on gameplay, graphics, and some of the things that make a game so entertaining to play, the main focus was always on the P2E mechanics.
Experts have often argued that this model gets boring and tiring at some point, significantly if earnings drop. The second concept of play-and-earn addresses some of these challenges. In essence, the priority in play-and-earn games is to make sure users enjoy the experience in the first place.
Secondly, there is a need to give users actual ownership of the game through NFTs. The earning mechanism is a secondary factor. The goal of play-and-earn is to enhance the retention of players in games. This is the path Axie Infinity is likely going to take moving forward.
Introduction of Land
Axie Infinity has also started to sell NFT-backed land in its Lunacian metaverse. This will significantly expand the gameplay possibilities and increase interaction between players and the game.
Land could also open up new ways to earn money. It is also clear that Axie is slowly transforming into an integrated metaverse economy instead of just a P2E game.
We are also seeing Axie infinity try to bring its community into the whole process of expanding the game. Through the Builders program, the platform is now incentivizing users to help create innovative and exciting new features for Axie Infinity. This will likely continue in the future.
Axie Infinity will become one of the most significant P2E games in history. The game may fail to reclaim its former glory. But it’s the ultimate pioneer of the play-to-earn niche.
The game has, of course, had its challenges and is currently trying to reboot itself. While there are so many entrants in the market, Axie Infinity still offers the simplicity and fun that made it a P2E heavyweight.
The game will therefore remain with us for a long time to come as it evolves to accommodate the ever-changing P2E landscape