Axie Infinity’s moment in the sun is over. That much is clear.
In the last 12 months, the trailblazing play-to-earn gaming project has lost almost 90% of its market value and the days when players boasted about earning a living purely from their participation in Axie seem long ago.
Axie’s weekly revenues have shrunk to a miniscule $11,000 from $17M last August, according to the data intelligence outfits TokenTerminal and Messari.
Into the Breach
Now gaming guilds DAOs, revenue-sharing collectives that connect Axie asset owners with players in exchange for a cut of profits, are jumping into the breach to help players weather the downturn.
Yield Guild Games (YGG), a Filipino P2E organization, said it is providing additional in-game assets to players — called scholars — as users decline and it has more resources at its disposal.
Players and Guilds
The hope for Axie players and guilds is to hold on until the arrival of Origin, Axie’s new version of the game. It is currently in beta.
“Once it is published worldwide and has added earnings capacity, we will be seeing more people breeding and participating in Origin,” said Martin Blaquier, the CEO of OlaGG, YGG’s subDAO in Latin America. “There are also a lot of developments ahead for Axie Infinity.”
The rise and fall of Axie Infinity is an object lesson in the boom and bust cycle of crypto. The gaming venture, which is owned by Sky Mavis, a Vietnam-based company, came out of nowhere and radpily defined an entirely new digital industry — play-to-earn gaming. With legions of players in developing economies, Axie epitomized the idea that blockchain-based gaming could make an economic impact in the real world.
And gaming guilds such as YGG have gone along for the ride. It made a big splash in the Philippines, where enthusiasts used Axie’s tokenomics as a ticket to supplement their income. In May, one Filipino player even claimed to have purchased two houses with the profits from playing Axie.
Now, with a bear market tightening its grip, comes a major test. Axie’s tokenomics — its online economy of tokens, rewards, and gameplay — are under stress like never before.
The supply of its in-game currency, Smooth Love Potion (SLP), has ballooned, helping drive down its price 85% this year, according to CoinGecko. Axie’s governance token, AXS, is down 91.6% since peaking in November of last year.
In March, its Ronin bridge suffered the highest-valued exploit in DeFi’s history, with more than $615M in assets being stolen by the hack. Ronin was relaunched on June 28, and Axie developer Sky Mavis reimbursed affected users.
Axie now has three-quarters fewer players than January, according to DappRadar. Axie NFTs are now changing hands for $10.80 on average, down from an all-time average of $182.54.
The litany of woes has prompted critics to say the bear market has exposed potentially fatal flaws in Axie’s model.
“Unsustainable incentives pumped usage far higher than sustainable, so real traction was a fraction of what people thought at the highs,” Ari Paul, the founder of BlockTower Capital, tweeted.
Axie comprises a Pokemon-inspired world in which users breed, battle, trade, and manage cartoon creatures called Axies. The project ranked as the second-highest revenue-generating web3 project behind Ethereum in 2021, racking up $1.3B through marketplace and breeding fees combined. It also drove $3.5B worth of NFT transactions for the year.
“Usually, where a YGG scholar is allotted a team of three Axies, this provides them with 20 energy per day that can be used on Arena gameplay to earn SLP,” YGG told The Defiant. “Since we have been experiencing attrition… we have been reassigning those assets to our scholars who have remained enthusiastic about the game, so that they can have more energy to use each day — up to 40 or 60 energy, which is two or three times their usual daily cap — resulting in increased SLP earning potential.”
The guild added that minimum performance requirements for players have also been removed.
In YGG’s latest community update discussing the guild’s performance in Q1 2022, YGG estimated its user base spanned nearly 29,548 players (up from 10,766 at the start of the year) mobilizing nearly 90,000 assets. The guild had generated $13.8M from P2E gaming since launching in 2021, with players collecting $10.2M, community managers reaping $2.4M, and $1.2M going to the YGG treasury.
However, revenues from SLP generation are in significant decline despite the guild generating a record sum of SLP in February. In March, YGG took in roughly $26,000 from SLP, down from July 2021’s peak of more than $329,500.
Gaming guilds are expanding the roster of games available to players amid Axie’s decline. YGG said it currently has more than 40 game partners, and is embracing the burgeoning move-to-earn sector.
Martin Blaquier, of OlaGG, a YGG subDAO, said the downturn in Axie revenue “has impacted Ola’s revenue as naturally players are making less given the drop in value of SLP. However, we’ve diversified into several other games, and Axie is only a part of the portfolio of games we offer our players.”