No amount of Smooth Love Potion is going to restore Axie Infinity’s healthy glow. But something else might — Origin, the most significant upgrade in the GameFi pioneer’s short history.
On April 7th, Axie Infinity quietly released the next iteration of its game in a soft launch. Axie’s legions of gamers, who came to rely on its tokenomics to make ends meet in the real world, are hoping it rejuvenates a venture that ushered in the play-to-earn model.
Gabby Dizon, co-founder of YieldGuild, a group that supports Axie players, is optimistic the move will pay off. “The bear market will allow projects with funding to build without the noise, applying lessons learned throughout 2021, and ensure that the “fun factor” is prioritized when designing in-game experiences,” he told The Defiant.
Origin will have its work cut out for it. Axie Infinity’s governance token, AXS, is down 90% since its peak last November, and the game lost half its players in June, according to Messari and ActivePlayer.
What’s more, Smooth Love Potion (SLP), the token that rewards Axie’s players, has tumbled 98% since its high in May 2021.
The blockchain-based game, which is owned by Vietnamese studio Sky Mavis, is under stress like never before. In March, $620 million was stolen from Axie’s network but no one even noticed that until a week after the hack, which exacerbated the doubt surrounding the project.
Even so, Philip La, Axie Infinity’s product manager, pushed back against the idea the game cannot rebound.
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“The game still exists with major improvements rolling out regularly,” La wrote in a blog post. and we will continue to come out with more games that apply all of the learnings we’ve had over time. The narrative that we are in an existential state and running out of time is false. ”
Game players buy NFTs of monsters and then have them fight one another. Players can grow, breed and battle their digital pets called Axies. Under the play-to-earn model, gamers own their Axies and trade their in-game assets in the marketplace as NFTs. The Axie Land is tokenized and acts as homes and bases of operation for Axies.
New Battle System
Origin changes this up by permitting the players to do their thing without having to buy Axies, making it more accessible to people on lower budgets. Axie has also introduced a new battle system with more strategic and interactive features, and users now can stake their Land to earn tokens as a reward.
Even though Origin is still in its beta, there are plenty of developments that players are looking forward to, such as crafting (a feature in which materials are converted into Rune, Charm and other items), and Axie evolution (where players can level up body parts in their Axies).
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It remains to be seen whether Origin will address the flawed tokenomics and lack of playability in the game.
In his post, La complained that the media is creating “misleading narratives” around the game. He said Axie is evolving from its current “play-to-earn” to a “play-and-earn” model.
“It will bring more ways for players to spend on things they value, ” he wrote. La also emphasized that Axie will keep rewarding its community builders. Each member has the freedom to create games that generate uncapped revenue using Axie Infinity’s IP.
Is Axie’s new gaming model able to turn the tide? Pedro Herrera, head of research at DappRadar, said he is a bit bearish in the short term.
“Battles last longer, so people who play the game to farm don’t like it,” he told The Defiant. “And it also becomes more difficult for content creators like YouTubers to engage their audience with long-lasting battles.”
Herrera said community and growth tactics are two critical factors for web3 games, which Axie did very well, but several projects fail because they prioritize growth over value, making an ecosystem unsustainable when a game is not playable itself.
“I gotta say that there will be more fun games to play in the blockchain space so while Axie will probably remain relevant, I don’t expect the same success as in its first iteration where they spearheaded the play-to-earn narrative,” he said.