Last updated: Aug 16, 2023
The 2021 wave of mass adoption has brought Axie Infinity to the spotlight as one of the most popular blockchain-based games at the time.
Axie Infinity is a brainchild of the Vietnam-based game development studio Sky Mavis. The game was launched in the early days of Ethereum in 2018, and grew its audience significantly in 2021.
As a game, Axie Infinity enables users to collect, raise, breed, fight, and trade NFT-creatures known as Axies. Each Axie has its own unique set of abilities, that it may pass on to further generations by breeding. The game uses two types of ERC-20 tokens - Axie Infinity Shards (AXS) and Smooth Love Potion (SLP) to power up its in-game economy.
Sky Mavis first published the whitepaper for Axie Infinity in December 2017. Initially, the game was launched on the Ethereum blockchain as the most popular network among developers at the time. However, as time passed, it became clear to the team that Ethereum scaling problems are slowing down the growth of the community.
In April 2021, Axie Infinity migrated to Ronin, a purposeful sidechain created by Sky Mavis. Ronin is rooted on Ethereum, but as a sidechain, the network allows quick settlements of transactions - the concept similar to the Polygon (MATIC) network.
Axie Infinity was initially built on the Ethereum blockchain. But later it became clear for developers that Ethereum wasn't meant for gaming, and running Axie Infinity solely on this blockchain would hurt the game's scalability as it requires the ability to make fast and cheap transactions that Ethereum cannot provide in its current state.
In order to better scale the game, Sky Mavis team has created Ronin, which is a sidechain rooted on Ethereum that allows users to avoid high gas fees and overall network congestion of the underlying mainnet. The Ronin sidechain was launched in February 2021, and Axie Infinity completed its migration in April 2021.
Ronin sidechain provides a distributed ledger that is tamper-evident and ensures scarcity. Ronin uses a proof-of-authority (PoA) consensus model, meaning that validators are staking their reputation instead of tokens. Ronin’s nature is way more centralized as validators are handpicked by the team. To name a few, Binance, Ubisoft, and Animoca Brands are running validator nodes on the Ronin sidechain.
The sidechain uses the Ronin Bridge to transfer assets on and from Ethereum.
As is common for the earn-to-play gaming genre, which some refer to as “pay-to-play-to-earn”, users need first to spend some crypto in the game before actually starting it. In Axie Infinity's case, each user needs to have at least three monsters in their wallet to engage the Lunacia Metaverse.
There are different modes in the game, players may engage in daily activities and PvE adventures while also putting their Axies to fight other players' monsters in the PvP arena. As the game states, players may earn AXS and SLP tokens in the process. The possibility to earn comes from the fees that the game charges all users. Currently, Axie Infinity takes a 4.25% fee for buying and selling Axie NFTs while also charging fees for breeding new monsters. All in all, 95% of the revenue is returned to players in the form of game rewards.
Axie Infinity wallet options available for users are limited with the use of its own Ronin wallet that runs on the Ronin sidechain. Players may use any other Ethereum-compatible wallet such as Metamask or Wallet Connect to transfer their funds onto Ronin.
The Axie Infinity app for PC or Mac users can be downloaded from the game’s official website. There are also mobile-based app versions, though those are not available on the AppStore or PlayMarket due to the game’s blockchain nature and are required to be downloaded manually from the developers.
There also is an option of AXS staking for users who wish to receive more Axie Infinity Shards over time.
Axie Infinity Shards or AXS is the native governance token for Axie Infinity. It's an ERC-20 standard token that may be used for staking and voting on community decisions. AXS has a limited supply of 270,000,000 tokens.
Smooth Love Potion or SLP is a utility ERC-20 token used in the Axie Infinity ecosystem. It is mainly used for breeding new Axies on the platform and is powering the in-game economy by rewarding players for completing various tasks. SLP has an unlimited supply but is often burned upon creating new Axies that help to tamper inflation.
Axie Infinity had its AXS and SLP ERC-20 contract audited by Quantstamp on April 25th, 2021. However, there is no publicly available data on any audits conducted on behalf of the Ronin sidechain, Ronin wallet, or Ronin bridge.
Axie Infinity is developed by a Vietnam-based game studio Sky Mavis, founded in early 2018 and headquartered in Ho Chi Minh. There are over 40 employees on the team, alongside the five members of the founding team who are all still involved with building Axie Infinity.
The CEO of Sky Mavis is Trung Thanh Nguyen, who previously co-founded Lozi.vn, a Vietnamese e-commerce startup.
Aleksander Leonard Larsen is the COO at Sky Mavis. He also serves on the board of directors of the Blockchain Game Alliance.
Tu Doan is the Art Director and Game Designer, responsible for all the looks of the game as well as many game concepts.
Andy Ho, as the CTO at Sky Mavis, is in charge of all things technical and leads Axie Infinity engineering team. He previously worked as a software engineer at Anduin Transactions and interned at Google and Paypal.
And the fifth co-founder is Jeffrey Zirlin also known as "Jihoz", who currently serves as the Growth Lead at Sky Mavis.
In April 2022 Axie Infinity got indirectly involved in the second largest hack in the crypto world, for the time, worth more than $600 million when the Ronin Bridge got exploited. According to numerous sources, the attack was conducted by a North Korean hackers group, and although Axie Infinity’s smart contracts weren’t part of the attack the company suffered heavy losses.
According to the website, Axie Infinity partners with Ubisoft, Aave, Binance, Samsung, Delphi Digital, Kyber Network, Maker, and UpBit. Some of these entities, such as Binance and Ubisoft, are currently participating in the PoA consensus of its Ronin sidechain by running validator nodes.
Before the Ronin sidechain was developed, Axie Infinity partnered with Loom Network which is a layer two solution for Ethereum. But this cooperation was shut down in March 2020, after the new management at Loom decided to switch focus to cater to enterprise clientele rather than creating user-facing infrastructure.
Another notable partnership for Axie Infinity is with Ramp Network, integrated into the Ronin wallet that allows Axie Infinity users to buy ecosystem tokens directly from their wallets using fiat.
Sky Mavis is going to address the main issues that keep some new players from entering the game such as the high NFT prices, for instance. As the roadmap states, in the future, there will be free starter monsters on Axie to let new users try the game before they need to make investments. The team also plans to expand play-to-earn opportunities for players.
In the near future, the game will expand its in-game economy by allowing players to own, trade, and explore the virtual land - either by farming resources or by building their own locations.
The roadmap for Axie Infinity containing completed milestones can be found in the game’s docs.
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