Axie is facilitating billions of dollars in Web3 gaming in the third world

We spoke to specialists in the blockchain gaming space about the morality of P2E, as well as other, more consumer-conscious models, after quantitative data of Axie Infinity generating billions of dollars in transactional volume.

The research department of blockchain analytics platform Nansen has published a comprehensive guide to popular play-to-earn game Axie Infinity, calculating quantitative insights such as the fact that 2.8 million unique addresses currently hold 11.1 million Axies, with 97 percent of those users holding at least three Axie non fungible tokens, or NFT’s.

Axie Infinity is a free-to-play game based on collecting and interacting with digital pet avatars known as Axies. Built by Sky Mavis, a Vietnamese gaming studio, in March 2018, the game rose to cultural prominence in 2019 after reports surfaced that players from third-world countries like Venezuela and the Philippines were making a full-time living off of Axie’s native crypto assets, Smooth Love Potion (SLP) and Axie Infinity (AXS).

Magnus TV, a 22-year-old gamer known as John Aaron Ramos, stated in May 2021 that Axie Infinity had enabled him to make two significant property purchases in the Philippines.

Nansen’s analysis follows the trend of other public Axie evaluations, concentrating on the benefits of authenticated in-game asset ownership, secondary marketplace trade options, decentralized governance, and the looming potential for cross-game interoperability, among other things.

On the subject of decentralization, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin was reportedly inspired to explore the technology after a traumatic experience on World of Warcraft, a game previously held by Activision Blizzard before their acquisition by Microsoft in January for $69 billion.

“Blizzard deleted the damage component from my beloved Warlock’s Siphon Life spell,” Buterin said. In other words, Blizzard launched an update that rebalanced the power dynamics of specific characters and weapons, resulting in Buterin being dubbed a ‘nerfed’ in the gaming community.

The widespread occurrence of such situations in the gaming community has exposed the dependency on centralized servers, which has become a source of fresh innovation.

An infographic from the Nansen report depicts the potential impact of integrating NFTs into gaming ecosystems, indicating a shift from the traditional linear top-down model to a circular one that promotes a user-governed DAO mechanism to give players self-sovereignty in their quest for entertainment.

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Justin Kan, the co-founder of popular streaming platform Twitch, recently argued that gamers should embrace the emergence of blockchain, dispelling fears that gaming’s uniqueness and environmental impact, among others, are insurmountable obstacles for the industry to overcome, or perhaps more likely, find consensus on.

We spoke to a number of experts and enthusiasts in the space to get a balanced verdict on the true potential of blockchain play-to-earn games, considering data revelations that Axie Infinity generated $1.3 billion in revenue and $4 billion in transactional volume over the last year — a portion of which equates to company profit.

The thesis that blockchain gaming can be seen as glorifying the fortunes of a minority of users, typically located in underdeveloped countries, as justification for what could be considered modern forms of resource exploitation was contextualised by John Chen, the President of decentralized layer-2 protocol Umbrella Network.

“We are in the early phases of blockchain gaming,” Chen said, “too early to say that there is a narrative for blockchain gaming.” Furthermore, we do not consider it to be resource exploitation,” she added, before adding:

“Those who participate as gamers in underdeveloped countries don’t appear to think so, as P2E games provide previously unavailable sources of cash, frequently in amounts that have a considerable influence on people’s livelihoods.”

Head of Marketing at Laguna Games, Brian Akaka, a resident of Manila, Philippines, highlighted that sociocultural happenings such as “COVID, vaccine availability, country development” have had a huge impact on P2E game adoption rates in Southeast Asia, before continuing:

“To refer to them as resource exploitation is a First World perspective. Here, it’s much more about a once-in-a-lifetime experience, although one with a high admission barrier. Certainly, the media in the United States will cover it from a certain angle, but it’s vital to highlight that it’s a different angle here.”

Attaching financial incentives such as NFTs and tokens to gaming platforms has been lauded by experts and enthusiasts across the industry as an innovative business model that might catapult them into a new environment, while others see possible dangers with the implementation side.

Some have questioned Axie Infinity’s choice to rebuild its reward system in recent weeks, which included the removal of daily quest and adventure modes, as well as a 56 percent drop in the daily supply of Smooth Love Potions (SLP). The precautionary action was necessary, according to the platform, to avoid the prospect of “complete and permanent economic collapse.”

Disclaimer: These are the writer’s opinions and should not be considered investment advice. Readers should do their own research.

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