Saturday, August 24, 2019

First Impressions: Axie Infinity (Ethereum Blockchain-based game)

A stray thought entered my mind recently.

"What if I am an early adopter of blockchain-based games?"

The ramifications for the above thought are manifold.

With this in mind, I rallied some of my fellow investment blogger friends who are also gamers to register their interest in such an endeavour.

As not everyone is familiar with cryptocurrencies and blockchains and not everyone is willing to pay to play, I established the following guidelines to help narrow the choices of games down.

1). The game must be fun (subjective, but consensus could easily be reached with just a few of us)
2). The game does not require any "IT skill" (e.g. gamer does not have to create an account on a centralized exchange, buy a small amount of cryptocurrencies, download a browser-based cryptocurrency wallet, transfer cryptocurrencies to the browser-based wallet to access the game, etc)
3). Game must be free-to-play
4). Game must have decent user interface (it must be intuitive for the gamer)
5). Game must not have every aspect of the game as transactions on the blockchain

Unfortunately, none of the above 5 criteria were met in a single game and we had to shelve that idea for now.

Undeterred and still curious, I ventured alone into the strange new world of blockchain gaming.

My first pick was Axie Infinity.

In Axie Infinity, you collect pets known as Axies. You send them out in threes to battle against other teams of 3s and gain experience points. These experience points could be used to upgrade certain features of your Axies (e.g. make your teeth sharper, your tail stronger) to increase their formidability on the battle field or be used to mate with other Axies to produce offsprings.

As the game do not provide new players with Axies, I had to purchase my trio of Axies at the marketplace. In my case, I spent around SGD $4.80 worth of Ether. In retrospect, this may have been a foolish decision. Shouldn't my Axies be earning money for me instead of spending money for me? lol.

Battles between Axie groups are straightforward enough. You select the (1) positioning of the Axie on the battle field, and (2) the order of the moves used in battle. Each move has an offensive and defensive value to it. When an attacking Axie attacks a defending Axie, the offensive value of the attacking Axie's move is somewhat mitigated by the defensive value of the defending Axie's move....or something like that.

You can battle up to 3 times every 12 hours. Every victory and loss nets you 10 and 5 exp, respectively. For people like me who don't watch the battle animation (see screenshot above) play out, you can just skip to the results instantaneously. Hence, time commitment is negligible. Just click battle 3 times in a row and view the results and you are done. You have to give and take a few seconds to find a match online though.

Assuming I require 2400 exp, lose all my battles, and only take part in 3 battles per day instead of 6, I would need 160 days before my Axies accumulate enough experience to breed baby Axies. This process could be hastened by using a pre-battle increased experience buff. As the buff is registered on the ethereum blockchain as a transaction, there is a cost to using it (e.g. ~ SGD $0.01).

Speaking of blockchain transactions, experience earned from battles have to be synced before they can be used. Otherwise, it will be accumulated in a pending state. And yes, syncing entails a transaction on the ethereum blockchain, which means......there is a cost to it. That's why I'm averse to games with plenty of in-game activities that require registering a transaction on the blockchain (point 5 above). The optimal way to manage this is to accumulate a huge amount of experience before syncing them on the blockchain.

Let's revisit this post again 160 days from now. Hopefully, I will have 3 baby Axies that could be sold for SGD $5 worth of Ether and earn a 100% profit! XD


  1. Hi UN,

    This is very interesting!

    Just curious what do you mean by 'early adopter', ie. investor in such games, player in such games?

    Hmm... What about the concern on crypto-real currency exchange rate? As the spending/ earning in the game use Ether, if Ether devalues then there goes the 'SGD investment' in the game.

    With regards to the game that you are playing - can the Axies be bred infinitely? If your Axies just breed once 160 days later, then you just break even. Got profit meh? Am I missing sth? Lol.

    1. Hi Rainbowcoin,

      Early adopter meaning a player who started playing when the game was newly released. Such that when more gamers come in later, your characters are at a much higher level and you have better equipment, etc.

      Yup. Possible too. Ether price could devalue relative to SGD. The good thing is that Ether price is near its lows lately. :)

      Axies can breed up to a maximum of 7 times. Baby Axies grow up rapidly and can breed too. This will start an Axie spawning cycle in the future, lol. Oops, my bad. Forgot that my initial 3 Axies were not free, lol.

    2. Hi UN,

      Ah.. I see... :)

      I guess if the blockchain-based game is fun and intuitive, as like any other game that is so, the whales will soon come. Early adopters or not will all get squashed then.

      Best is to become the dungeon master. Lol.

    3. I have neither the capacity to be the dungeon master nor the whale. >.<

    4. Pardon my curiosity... does the game allow players to withdraw the Ether back to normal currency?

      If not, isn't the Ether just another virtual currency with not much transfer value? So what's the advantage of a blockchain-based game over the traditional games?

      (I think the curious cat is about to get killed by annoyed UN.)

    5. Exchanging of Ether to normal currency occurs at exchanges, not in game.

      Yup, can think of it as another virtual currency. Some in-game objects (e.g. Axies in Axie Infinity) exists on the blockchain permanently (even if the game company dissolves in the future). Can think of it as looking at your bank passbook and seeing a deposit of Axie transaction on it (something like that).

      When are you joining me in Axie Infinity? :P


  2. Hi UN,

    Thanks for your patient explanation. :)

    I wonder who can actually access a blockchain's history of transactions, or are these pseudo-real transactions residing somewhere in virtual space inaccessible.

    Eh, why am I not part of your investment blogger cum gamer friends? Haha. Come join me for Bloon TD battles instead la! :P

    1. Anyone and everyone can access to a blockchain's history of transactions. For Ethereum, they could use Etherscan. Just key in the "transaction ID" into the search bar and you could see the sender and the recipient.

      Oops. Okay, next time shall rope you in as well. I'm waiting for Children of Morta. Finally should be out next week!