A crypto game has generated $485 million in revenue since July and is drawing flocks of players from developing countries looking to make money

A crypto game has generated $485 million in revenue since July and is drawing flocks of players from developing countries looking to make money
Axie Infinity media kit
  • Axie Infinity, an ethereum-based game, has seen a boom in popularity and revenue.
  • Sky Mavis, the game's creator, saw a jump in revenue to $485 million since July, according to a Bloomberg report.
  • The play-to-earn game is popular in emerging markets that have been hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

An ethereum-based game called Axie Infinity has pulled in millions of real-world dollars for the company that created it, with people mostly from developing countries playing with the game's colorful and competitive creatures to try to earn some cash for themselves.

Inspired by Pokémon, the Axie Infinity game is experiencing a surge in players seeking to participate in its play-to-earn model. Its growing popularity is part of the reason Sky Mavis, the game's creator, has seen a jump in revenue. The Vietnam-based game studio has logged $485 million in revenue since July, dwarfing the $21 million it had made since launching in 2018, according to a report this week by Bloomberg. Daily active users reached more than 1 million in August.

Two crypto analysts told Insider's Vicky Ge Huang about three ways to cash in Axie's growth.

Players can earn two types of tokens - Smooth Love Potions and Axie Infinity Shards - through breeding, raising and battling virtual creatures called Axies. The SLP and AXS tokens can be used in the game or can be sold on a crypto exchange. Axies are non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, that can be sold or purchased.

The Bloomberg report said most players are based in developing countries whose economies were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, including the Philippines, Brazil and Venezuela. In "the pursuit of a new income stream during the COVID pandemic," thousands of people from developing countries have been playing the game, according to a white paper updated in December on Axie Infinity's website.


A jump in the price of AXS has opened the door for people in struggling economies to earn some money. Demand from the Philippines climbed enough for crypto exchange Binance to offer an SLP-peso trade, the report said, and there's also the lure of cryptocurrencies in places where local currencies are weak.

Players need three Axies to get started but buy-in costs can be pricey, at around $200 for each creature. But sponsors can step in and allow people to play in exchange for a cut of their earnings. Such arrangements have also boosted revenue for Sky Mavis as it takes a cut every time an Axie changes hands and collects a fee when players breed new creatures, the report said.

Bloomberg highlighted a player from Manila who in his first two weeks of playing Axie Infinity earned more than 37,000 pesos ($732), or three times what he would have earned at the IT job he was laid off from in July.

The game has some detractors, however. Vanessa Cao, founder of venture-capital firm BTX Capital, told Bloomberg the Axie model is unhealthy and unsustainable, with people spending hundreds of dollars upfront to play.