Play-to-earn or ‘P2E’ games are blowing up in the cryptocurrency space with millions of dollars in daily revenue being generated across multiple platforms. P2E games function through rewarding players for completing in-game tasks and activities. Although, the greatest rewards are only won by the best players in competitive in-game events.
The monetisation is generated through 2 key paths, the first is through rewarding players with the game's native token. The other takes advantage of the underlying technology of NFTs, where players are able to sell their in-game items and characters in-game or through 3rd party platforms such as OpenSea. The rarer their items, the more the player will earn.
One such play-to-earn game that has grown in popularity is ‘Axie Infinity’ wherein players battle ‘Pokemon’ style monsters called ‘Axies’ against one another to earn rewards. The game has become a phenomenon in South East Asian countries where it is estimated that of the 500,000 daily active users, nearly 60% originate from the Philippines.
Axie infinity is a great example of how a play-to-earn game can provide multiple revenue streams through well structured in-game mechanics. Firstly, Axie infinity decided in Mid 2020 that it would create its own Ethereum network sidechain called Ronin. This would help deal with the issue of high levels of congestion on the Ethereum Mainnet while also allowing users to benefit from near instant transaction confirmations, free gas fees on transactions and a block explorer for transparency and data accessibility. The addition of the Ronin sidechain also introduced a Ronin wallet that simplified the player onboarding process, scaling Axie infinity’s adoption by the mainstream.
Players are able to earn Axie’s native token, Small Love Potion (SLP), through completing daily adventures and battling opponents online. Currently 1 SLP token is worth $0.3310 and players are able to earn thousands of tokens a month, netting great incomes to players especially in lower socio-economic nations. Other than the actual game, players can also breed Axies together to produce offsprings. To do so, players will need to pay a breeding cost fee which consists of SLP and Axie’s other native token, AXS (which is also used as a governance token). Offsprings with strong attributes, genetics and moves can fetch as much as 0.2 ETH each on the marketplace with rarer Axies fetching ridiculous prices. On July 4th, a Triple Mystic Axie (one of 19) sold for 369 ETH, or $730,000 at the current exchange rates. Axie Infinity takes full advantage of the power of NFTS, with exclusive items containing individual attributes and Land that can be purchased and built on, all available through the Axie Infinity Marketplace. For more information on NFTs, be sure to check out our previous article here.
While play-to-earn games know no borders, it has really taken off in South East Asian countries, specifically the Philippines which has been hit hard by the pandemic. With the Philippines’s GDP contracting 9.6% in 2020, and many impacted by the lockdowns in place, millions were out of jobs. This led to an explosion of adoption for Axie Infinity in the Philippines with everyone from graduates, housewives and grandparents to cab drivers and store owners jumping on the game. In a recent documentary on the topic, a mother of three said, “What matters is having money so we can eat, avoid debts and get through every day. It [Axie Infinity] sustained our daily needs, paid our bills, and debts.”
During this pandemic, playing Axie has become a viable source of income in many developing countries: players in the Philippines comprise about 30% of global Axie players; Indonesia comes in second with 15% global share.
Over the past month, the leading crypto game and play-to-earn game raked in $84.9 million in funds for its treasury. Over the last 30 days, Axie Infinity is the most profitable protocol on the market, with the Binance Smart Chain DEX PancakeSwap coming in second, earning $11.9 million. Even crypto wallet MetaMask, which boasts more than 5 million users, weighs in at number three with a meager revenue total of $7.4 million.
With protocols such as PancakeSwap and Metamask, their revenue is generated through fees for interacting with each protocol. Axie Infinity, however, has several revenue streams such as its 4.25% marketplace fee which is required every time you buy or sell one of the Axie creatures. The second revenue-generator is a fee of 4 AXS, for “breeding” Axies to create more of the creatures. And with an influx of new users every day, buying and breeding, pressure is on the rise, resulting in lots of fee-generation opportunities.
This unprecedented growth showcases the potential of mainstream adoption for a protocol.
Axie Infinity and Play-to-earn games have further highlighted that mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies does not have to rely on the adoption of Bitcoin. In fact, play-to-earn games are providing financial freedom and security to millions of players from all over the world. Putting some numbers to this, Axie Infinity’s governance token AXS has a total market capitalization of $2,182,274,030, this is 333 times smaller than that of Bitcoin and yet Axie Infinity as a protocol has produced almost four times the 30 day revenue of Bitcoin ($124.53 million and $32.88 million respectively). The Cryptocurrency ecosystem has religiously relied on Bitcoin and its adoption by institutions to create greater awareness in the mainstream, however, Axie Infinity has utilized the underlying technology of cryptocurrency and blockchains to create a project that appeals to those that would gain the most from investing in cryptocurrency to preserve their wealth.
Because of this, Play-to-earn games are incredibly attractive to individuals in nations where hyperinflation is destroying millions of dollars of wealth. Now these individuals can earn and preserve their wealth through playing and trading their rewards into more stable assets like Bitcoin, Ethereum or US dollars. Furthermore, Play-to-earn games like Axie Infinity are also teaching people how to use crypto in a practical sense. Individuals are exposed to using wallets such as Metamask, learning to send and receive transactions and become a part of the wider cryptocurrency ecosystem.