Bankless - The Rise of Axie Infinity - Jeff 'Jiho' Zirlin
Primer: Axie Infinity, a game where you collect fantasy pets and battle with them, has taken the Crypto world by storm. In this episode, Jiho shares the story of Axie Infinity: From humble beginnings to what it is today.
Co-Founder and Growth Lead of Sky Mavis, the company behind Axie Infinity
Axie Infinity's Explosive Growth
A combination of factors
Built through the brutal bear market
"So while this [Axie Infinity] may might seem like an overnight success story, it's like a three year overnight success story, these guys have been grinding. And when I say grinding, they've been building like hell."
- Ryan Sean Adams
Building a blockchain game is 10x harder than a conventional game
Have to get the gameplay right
Game needs to be fun
Have to get the game economy right
Have to have true property rights
Deployed to Ronin sidechain in April and those who were on the sidelines because of transaction throughput can finally jump in
Flat-to-down market currently and people are bored. They are looking for something exciting and that's currently Axie Infinity
Why Did They Persist Through The Bear Market?
"You cannot form a community like Axies during a bull market, right? You just, you just attract only these mercenaries, right?" - Jiho
Have a special community. Even when their community was small, they were making musicals, getting Axie tattoos, and building tools
They talk to the users often
A lot of them came from a product development background. The way to win is to be early to the right market and just keep building, even right through a bear market
"If you see an amazing community, it's somewhat underground, it's a bear market, but like, doesn't have mainstream attention. But it's just an amazing, incredible community that's somewhat underground. That's a signal for you to go get involved. Like, maybe not financial advice, go buy the asset, right, because good things happen out of good communities. That is a key insight."
- Ryan Sean Adams
Earn Smooth Love Potions (SLPs) when players win a battle
SLPs are required to breed new axies
"So the creation of an Axie is kind of like a Proof-of-Work system, where each Axie is the result of real time spent in game."
Battles V2 coming out later this year/early next year
Land gameplay like Clash of Clans/Rise of Kingdoms, where players own their land plot, build structures on it, and harvest resources from it. Resources are actual tokens
Long term going to have a Software Development Kit (SDK). Allow community members and developers to use the Axie IP
NFTs: Axies, Land plots, Land items
ERC-20s: SLP and AXS Governance Token
SLP supply is uncapped. Has a reflexive supply
AXS Governance Token has a capped supply. Earned through playing the game, but in specific ways (e.g. top of the leaderboard, contribute to the community)
"And it's, it's crazy, it's a phenomenon in the Philippines, there are, it's like a trend where businesses are now starting to be like, hey, like we're cool, we accept SLP."
Governance is not implemented yet
4.25% of all NFT volume in the ecosystem goes to the community treasury. The Axie team has exposure to that fee by holding 18% of the AXS supply
Part of the breeding fees are paid in SLP; the other part in AXS
Worked with Delphi Digital to create the governance tokens to hand control over the treasury to the DAO
What Users Want
Peer-to-peer exchange of game assets
Ownership of the entire game
Longer-term, their focus is on security of funds. Just hit 200 million right now. Will upgrade and look at different solutions
Ronin contributed to their huge growth
Ethereum's Role In Axie Infinity's Success
Everyone is speaking the same language on Ethereum. EVM-native systems building on each other
"We wouldn't be where we are without Ethereum right? It was like our main home. Now it's kind of like our summer home. It's our main home for two years now." - Jiho
Users Of Axie Infinity
Different player archetypes
Collectors: Into scarcity and aesthetics
People who are into the competitive scene: Aim to be at the top of the PVP leaderboards
Players/Grinders: Play 4-6 hours each day farming SLPs
Liquidity providers: Trading Axie markets/do short term strategies
Borrowing Of Axies
Development of a Scholarship system where people who have a lot of Axies, but not enough time to use them, could lend it out to Scholars who want to play
Scholars are people who want to play the game, but do not have the hundreds of dollars needed to get started with it
Scholars will apply to a programme with a resume/CV/video
Scholars get a percentage of tokens earned while playing while the rest goes to the owner of the account
Demographics Of The Community
60% of users from the Philippines
Gaining traction in Indonesia, Vietnam, and South America
"I saw photos of people. It looked like a school in Africa, learning how to play Axie together."
Secrets To Their Success
Focusing on the game economy and giving economic freedom to players
Amazing community that onboarded their family and friends
"The thing with Axie is just so damn fun, right? Like you just like you want to have the important people in your life, your friends and family partake in this cultural game with you. And so you onboard it."
- Ryan Sean Adams
Went from 10-20 people to what it is today. Community got stronger by bonding through the bear market
On track to become the largest Discord on earth
Community members stepping up to provide support
Different channels for specific topics
On The Gaming Industry
Axie Infinity will become a category-defining NFT game (e.g. Angry Birds, World of Warcraft)
Incumbents in the gaming industry are slow to react
"Well, it's, I think the most fanatic communities the world has ever seen are going to be NFT Gaming communities, because of the incentive alignment."
"Even if you knew how to build Axie and copied it. Like, could you actually reproduce its success? Right? I mean, that's, it's like, same thing with Ethereum. Right, like all the ETH killers, they say that they can make better tech, but it's all about the community, the developer community."
Thoughts On Emerging Markets
2 billion underemployed people in the world. Crypto games will draw in these people and increase the pool of potential gamers
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