For many Filipinos, Axie Infinity is a chronicle of great hopes and greater disappointments. In their day they launched into video games and philosophy play-to-earn (P2E) with the hope of earning money in a fun and “simple” way and, incidentally, thus complementing their delicate domestic economies; but at least part of them ended up losing their time and savings.
The story is told in detail. TIME. The game, very similar in certain aspects to Pokémonwas developed by Sky Mavis, a Vietnamese startup, and although in 2018 it already experienced its first successes thanks to the rise of cryptocurrencies, it became really popular in 2021. To start using it, players must buy three digital pets, the Axies, associated to their own NFTs.
The dynamic is more or less simple.
Users get Axies, train, play and compete with them. Axie Infinity combines an adventure mode with daily quests, fights with other members, and coin collecting. Throughout the process they can get hold of the in-game currency, which has AXS (‘Axie Infinity Shards’) and Smooth Love Potion (SLP), exchangeable in turn for other cryptocurrencies.
Win playing… Or not
Characters can also be sold, operations to which commission applies. His prospects were so promising that by October he had raised more than $150 million from different investors, including some major equity firm.
The possibility of earning money with a video game did not take long to capture the interest of Filipinos like Samerson Orias, a cook in his twenties who saw the possibility of supplementing the money that his business gave him – it was not even the minimum wage – and raising funds to take care of his mother and pay bills.
And it worked for him.
For a time, at least, he earned cryptocurrencies that he then converted into conventional money. As required TIMEthe game caught the attention of thousands of Filipinos who during the heyday of cryptocurrencies, in 2021, they managed to benefit thanks to Axie from the P2E system.
It is estimated that the Philippines came to concentrate close to 40% of Axie users. In a country with a considerable percentage of the population below the poverty line and highly dependent on remittances sent by emigrants, a source of income diminished during the pandemic, young people like Orias discovered an opportunity to make money in gambling .
Over time, two characteristics of Axie were found: its dependence on the arrival of new players and the increase in the value of SLP. It rose so high that many would-be players simply couldn’t afford the outlay it demanded. buy starting characters. In July 2021 the cheapest one was 0.1 ETH, which was equivalent to almost 200 dollars.
That the cost of the Axies became a barrier for new users opened an opportunity for those known as “managers”, people who bought creatures and then passed them on to “scholars”, players with fewer resources who were in charge of improving them and earn cryptocurrencies with them. The gesture was not disinterested, of course. In exchange, they took a good part of the profits that the “scholar” achieved thanks to the digital pets: approximately between 30 and 50%.
In the case of Orias, his “manager” was in Australia, he demanded that he win at least 120 SLP per day and he pocketed half of what he generated. Consequence: the young man ended up dedicating hours to the game so that it would be profitable for him, a time that he combined with his own employment.
Convinced that it was a profitable business, there were even those who they asked for hundreds or even thousands of dollars to friends and family to pay for the investment needed to get started with Axie.
Over time, their expectations were frustrated: the real value of the game currency began to fall and the cryptocurrency market itself punctured. Of the around 2.7 million daily active users that the game recorded in November, it has increased to 760,000 as of today.
As a final touch, in March the game suffered a resounding hacking attack that ended up taking nearly 600 million in ETH and USDC. In early summer, the company planned to refund the money to users who suffered the attack, although they will be affected by the fall in the value of the cryptocurrencies themselves. The process has not been without controversy either: before revealing the hack, its CEO would have moved about three million dollars in cryptographic tokens.
If in July 2021 the SLP reached a value of 0.34 dollars, now it is below half a cent. Those responsible for the game have indeed applied changes and have just removed SLP rewards, thus forcing users to switch to a new mode, Axie Infinity Origin.
A story of great expectations that leaves disenchanted users, like Orias, or even precise TIMEothers who ended up getting into debt to invest in the game.