Axie Infinity, the Play to Earn (P2E) NFT game, has had quite the 2021. But, while many see these sorts of games as a fad, there are a number of key takeaways that indicate the future of crypto, gaming, and the burgeoning industry that sits between them. Blockchain gaming has barely emerged from its shell.
In January 2021, Axie Infinity had around $100,000 in sales. That’s impressive for an indie game by anyone’s standards, and yet just 9 months later, the Ethereum-based dapp has had $2.12B in sales of its NFTs. While this is great news for the Axie Infinity players, the Vietnamese studio who created the game, Sky Mavis, and anyone holding tokens or the in-game Axies, there are more important threads to the story. A foundation for blockchain gaming is being built in front of us and the magnitude of what is constructed on top of it could be beyond what even the most optimistic of us have envisioned.
The Use Case for Play to Earn’s Role in the Gaming Industry and Beyond
Axie Infinity isn’t necessarily the sort of game I would gravitate towards and its success only interests me insofar as what it shows of P2E games’ potential, and in that, it fascinates me. Axie Infinity received some interesting and unusual press in the form of a documentary in May of this year, where the YouTube channel, PLAY-TO-EARN, covered the game’s unexpected rise in the Philippines:
Anyone interested in blockchain gaming ought to take the 18 minutes to watch that video, but I can offer a brief overview. In 2020, Leah Callon-Butler wrote an article for Coindesk on how a poor community in the Philippines was using Axie Infinity’s P2E mechanics to survive during COVID. The pandemic has affected the income of hundreds of millions — if not billions — of people, and one poverty-stricken town in the Philippines was far from exempt. By playing Axie Infinity, many of the citizens could earn around the same amount of money as they would from a full-time job. This allowed families to eat and pay their bills where otherwise they may not have been able to.
When the majority of us imagined the benefits of P2E, we were not looking at the profound impact it could have on the less financially fortunate. The brilliance and attraction of raising the global financial floor with crypto have not gone unnoticed for many of us proponents of blockchain technology, but even we hadn’t imagined the role games may play in that. The cost of entry for a new player to Axie Infinity may now be too high for some, and while that is sad, there are a plethora of alternatives rising. To the point where the digital economy in blockchain gaming will impact every imaginable demographic of age, wealth, and background.
The Insatiable Demand for NFT Games
The statistics Axie Infinity boasts are as inconceivable as they are jarring. In July, for the first time, Axie Infinity generated more in the way of fees than Bitcoin and Ethereum. There have been more than 5,000,000 sales of Axies at an average sale price of over $400. In June, an Axie sold for $819,660 worth of Ethereum, which is over $1,000,000 today. As interesting as these facts are to gamers, they ought to be markedly more interesting to the business world. This is an opportunity to get in at the ground floor of a sub-industry likely to impact the financial world in a way that would have seemed absurd a decade ago.
The demand for NFT games is phenomenal and there are more reasons for that than can be unpacked in one article. Making money from playing a computer game is not a new dream, but now it’s nearing a reality and one that is putting food in the mouths of those struggling. This is not a flash in the pan of the turbulent world of crypto. This is a revolution in gaming so immense that it borders the cosmic. The gaming industry has grown in the last few decades at a pace that cannot be ignored. Now its global impact is flirting with the idea of soaring further, and that is likely as a result of the Play to Earn genre’s rise to prominance.