Axie Infinity is entering another dimension.
It’s not going to just be a sort of Pokémon game any longer. A new wrinkle is coming. “Land is another game mode built in the Axie universe,” Jeffrey Zirlin of Sky Mavis, the company that’s building the Axie Infinity game, told The Defiant in an interview.
On New Year’s Eve, the team published a blog post teasing gaming on Axie land — ownable plots in the Axie creatures’ world, Lunacia. The move introduces a whole new kind of gameplay for the Axie NFTs that have driven so much activity over the last year. The blog post included a short teaser trailer that allows players to have a look at the quality of art powering the game.
Quests and Battles
Axie Infinity had a giant year in 2021. It was in the vanguard of the play-to-earn revolution spawned by blockchains. Its AXS governance tokens are selling for $88, up 149X from where it was in early 2021.
It also brought in $1.3B in revenue in the last year, according to Token Terminal. But obviously the pressure is on to keep up that dominance. Axie is now a game with basically two modes: quests and battles. Both allow users to earn cryptocurrency, but some have criticized the level of gameplay for such a buzzy enterprise.
The game users play today “was built by a handful of people. We are rightfully being judged on it now in 2022 based on something we built in 2019,” Zirlin said. “But I think it’s going to be very surprising and very shocking to people when they see something that we have spent a long period of time on with a large team.”
While it’s not unusual to launch a game with a video trailer, Zirlin thinks it is particularly important in this case. “I think land is also a huge opportunity to show that one of our strengths is the art.”
The team began selling land back in 2019, but there hasn’t been much to do with it yet. At this point, 17,241 plots of Lunacia land are owned by players, of a total of slightly over 90K plots, according to the whitepaper.
Players got a taste of gameplay during a brief 2020 demo.
“Land and territory control has long been used to deepen social and strategy gameplay in genres like 4x strategy and MMO games. What works is land mechanics designed to reward and enhance active gamer participation,” Amy Wu of Lightspeed Venture Partners told The Defiant via email. “What doesn’t work is when land can be purchased for purely speculative purposes and you have a lot of passive squatters. I’m excited to see how Axie Infinity designs their land game.”
Zirlin declined to name a target date for land play to come out, beyond saying that it should happen in 2022. That said, the full game won’t come out all at once. It will come in phases. The first phase will be land and resource management, the second will be skill building, social engagement and cooperation, and finally in the third phase it will get strategic, with battles.
For example, the blog post provides a sketch of how there could be armies of Axies taking on opposing armies. The whitepaper also says that the world is being terrorized by invaders called Chimera.
“I think it is going to be really important showing that the Axie universe is not one game mode. It’s a whole universe of games. It’s going to be a first example of vertical interoperability,” he said, meaning that the Axie asset will have a lot of different ways to be played.
It won’t be entirely in Sky Mavis’s hands what people can do. Soon, they plan to open a software development kit which will allow others to build on the Axie universe, including its land.
“Part of our vision for land is kind of the Roblox model where you can host experiences on top of it. So we are building an SDK in order to make it easy for people to build experiences on top of the Axie universe.”
There will be items and resources that people can find and earn on land, and this will all be tradeable like Axies and its two tokens are today. In fact, the day could come where the Axie exchange, Ronin, is hosted inside Lunacia.
The whitepaper says that AXS will be discoverable by players exploring Lunacia, but Zirlin declined to offer any more detail. He also declined to say whether someone will need to own an Axie to access land or whether there will be any sort of open commons usable by anyone.