#1: Sky Mavis Goes Big At Axiecon
As part of an overall comeback attempt for Axie Infinity, Sky Mavis recently held its Axiecon event in Barcelona. It did a good job of addressing a number of issues Sky Mavis has been looking to rectify after the stumbles it’s faced up until this point, namely security, esports, Origin’s full start, and land utility.
On the security side of things, Sky Mavis announced Google Cloud as its 18th Ronin blockchain validator out of a planned total of 21. Given the severity of the Ronin bridge hack, any kind of push to reclaim former prominence will require making sure it doesn’t take shortcuts on chain security and robustness. Sky Mavis also revealed that Google Cloud has been a strategic partner for Axie Infinity since 2020, helping scale the game worldwide. Google itself hasn’t strayed much into web3, but like many companies, it’s still happy to expand its services outside of the core web2 customers. Sky Mavis also mentioned using Google Workspace services to help scale up its remote capable team with 100 additional staff over the next 18 months. While obviously still short of the 21 goal, the current pool of validators includes some companies that are very invested in web3 like Animoca Brands, DappRadar, and Nansen.
When it comes to esports, Sky Mavis has dedicated $2.4M worth of AXS (160K AXS) in grants for tournaments, starting with Method MetaGuild as the first grant recipient. Method MetaGuild itself plans to host both online and LAN Axie Infinity competitions with a total prize pool of $160,000. Prize pools for tournaments will be divided into tiers such as $200K–$1M for Major Tournaments, $50K–$200K for Minor Tournaments, $10K–$50K for Online Invitationals & Leagues, and $1K–$9.9K for Local Tournaments.
It’s worth noting that Sky Mavis has mentioned lots of prizes in dollars, even though they will be given away in AXS, which of course is not a stable dollar value. However, AXS has mostly been fluctuating between $12 and $20, with 160K AXS at $2.4M using $15 as the price. Using a $12-$20 range for those 160K in AXS, for example, could mean anything from $1.9M to $3.2M. With so many methods of AXS distribution available now, there is a stronger possibility of a decline in price rather than an increase, leading to prize recipients being pressured to consider cashing out before others to beat any further decline.
In terms of everyday earnings for players, Sky Mavis also announced a quick start to the full Season 1 for Origins on September 14th. AXS earnings will be given out based on the Season 0 leaderboard, and SLP will finally be awarded for Season 0 grinding. SLP being distributed again, of course, led to an immediate drop in price on the 13th, and the price at time of writing of $0.0037 hovers near the all-time low of $0.0031. Season 1 will bring its own end-of-season AXS leaderboard rewards of 112K AXS total, with 6,750 AXS for the first place, which comes out to over $100K at the aforementioned $15 price. This prize pool is nearly double to that of Season 0 and expanded to twice as many leaderboard placements (from 20K to 40K).
As mentioned in a previous weekly update, new seasons now bring some reset in the form of expiring charms and runes, which should drive some demand for SLP and AXS when looking to mint as NFTs on the market. Just to give an idea of the scale of demand needed to absorb the prize pool, 112K AXS could mint 485.3K charm or rune NFTs at the current AXS price of ~$13, with mint price being pegged at $3 in AXS. In terms of breeding, 112K AXS would breed 224K new Axies, as it’s a fixed AXS cost of 0.5 AXS. This first real season will be a good test to see if player demand can meet the increasing distribution in terms of price stability.
Lastly, Sky Mavis announced more details regarding Land NFTs. An off-chain alpha game for land owners is set for end of the year and focuses on the gathering and processing of resources and building structures to craft items and sell them to the Lunacian natives. Other features of the game are an Auction House with transport requirements and Idle Combat through which players could use the crafted items for in-game currency rewards. As a way to buy itself more time, Sky Mavis also announced a mini-game for Land, Axie Infinity Raylights, which is being developed by third-party Finnish company, Quicksave. Raylights is set to launch this month and has players using minerals to craft, grow, and discover various plants for decorating and unlocking new ingredients. This continues a trend we mentioned last week (Crypto Unicorns) of using third-party mini-games as a holdover during longer development cycles. Getting Land right is an important step for Sky Mavis as Axie Infinity became an early example of overpromising when selling Land NFTs while not being able to deliver anywhere near on schedule.
Overall, Sky Mavis continues to push forward with an attempt to pivot away from the P2E problems that plagued Axie Infinity Classic. The company knows that there’s a long way to go to reclaim the interest and excitement of last year, but a convention dedicated to the game is obviously a good place to kick things off. The timing also isn’t bad, as many of the expected high-quality blockchain games are still some way off from being released, giving Sky Mavis an opportunity to recapture the attention of idle web3 gamers. The important question for Origin is whether or not fun can trump an earnings frenzy in web3. We will continue to keep an eye on future lessons and the opportunities presented by the final launch of this critical pivot.
#2: Square Enix Joins the Pool of Talent in the Oasys
Japanese game developer Square Enix continued its path deeper into NFTs with an announced initiative with blockchain Oasys. The initiative sees Square Enix becoming the 21st and final node validator for Oasys and sets them up for joint game development. Square Enix has been vocal about a desire to move into a blockchain- and NFT-oriented future despite backlash from fans on social media. While Square Enix has done an NFT release for Final Fantasy collectibles through a previous partnership with Enjin, it has yet to release any games using the technology. The announcement to work with Oasys isn’t necessarily exclusive, but it does indicate that at least an initial game will likely be on the Oasys blockchain. As far as we can tell, only My Crypto Heroes is currently playable on Oasys, so getting a developer like Square Enix on board is definitely a big win.
Oasys is part of a growing trend in Asian countries, i.e., South Korea and Japan, of creating blockchains with the support of regional game developers. South Korea, for example, has the Klaytn blockchain, which is also looking to support general metaverse projects. Given both the founders and validators for Oasys, one can see why Square Enix would consider it, as there is a strong representation from Japan alongside successful South Korean game developers. Four of the five founders are Japanese game or blockchain developers, with Bandai Namco, Sega, Thirdverse (VR games), and Double Jump.tokyo (Blockchain). The validators include the same founders alongside notable companies like Ubisoft, Mythical Games, and successful South Korean companies getting into blockchain, like NEOWIZ, WeMade, Com2uS, Netmarble, and NHN Corp. The Oasys chain is also part of another trend of building EVM-compatible Proof-of-Stake chains with a focus on gaming. While there’s only so much room for everyday use, primary blockchains, there are definitely opportunities for gaming-focused regional chains so long as they maintain compatibility with technologies like bridges and EVM support.
It’s important to recognize as well that Square Enix won’t be the only big name developing on the chain, as there is every reason to believe the other founders will also build on it. Bandai Namco, for example, intends to build metaverse and NFT projects for Dragon Ball and Gundam. Sega has publicly talked about its future Super Game “framework,” intending it to be a multi-game project using cloud and NFT technology. The combined IP power of just these three companies alone could be a huge pull for what might otherwise seem like just another random chain, and they all seem intent on leveraging that IP. Now that all 21 validators have been established and the mass of talent and IP involved is clear, it will definitely be worth keeping an eye on how this blockchain unfolds.
Game Launch Radar
- Superior, a superhero-based shooter on Gala, opened up an alpha playtest. Link
- Clash of Moland from Mobox opened a beta test. Link
- Fancy Birds: Sky Wars, the second game in the Fancy Birds series, launched a beta on Polygon for certain NFT holders. Link
- Afterland, a F2P FPS on WAX and Immutable X, launched an alpha for pass owners. Link
- Imperium Empires, a space metaverse on the Avalanche network, launched a PvP alpha. Link
- Hash Rush released a beta with new modes for Vorto key holders. Link
- Genopets released a new mobile app version and roadmap for its alpha. Link
Other Game Announcements
- Skyweaver announced a new mini card set follow-up to Clash of Inventors. Link
- Mini Royale: Nations started its Season 3. Link
- Voxie Tactics announced a migration of its NFTs to Polygon. Link
- Crazy Defense Heroes announced a new event season called the Lookout Season. Link
- Atari launched a new Sunnyvale experience in The Sandbox. Link
- Gods Unchained announced a GameStop partnership and a new referral program along with marketplace updates. Link
- Blockchain Brawlers announced some economic tweaks to crafting and upgrading. Link
- X-Metaverse announced reward changes for Grand Prix Season 8. Link
- Nine Chronicles announced an Arena Championship competition with 250K in prize tokens. Link
- Train of the Century released an update to support new Run Mod NFTs. Link
- MyMetaverse and Enjin released playable NFTs for its Grand Theft Auto V and Minecraft servers. Link
- Apeiron launched a new NFT marketplace and an airdrop for its Battle Demo Pass NFT. Link
- Civitas announced a new character mint that will use a whitelist and Dutch auction. Link
- Revolving Games, developers of Battlestar Galactica on Gala, raised $25M in a round led by Pantera Capital. Link
- Mysten Labs raised $300M in a Series B round led by FTX Ventures for its Sui blockchain at a valuation of more than $2B. Link
- Smobler Studios raised $1.2M in a seed round for metaverse architecture led by The Sandbox. Link
- Dropp Group acquired metaverse platform Phly for $25M to help build digital versions of major cities. Link
- Goldsky raised $20M in a seed round led by Felicis and Dragonfly Capital for real-time on-chain data. Link
- Neo Fantasy, an ACGN blockchain game, raised $1.5M in a round led by Shima Capital. Link
- Fractal, a Solana marketplace, announced a new platform for game developers using an SDK and a marketplace API. Link
- Ethereum’s “merge” was a success, a huge milestone for the Ethereum community. Link
- Enthusiast Gaming, developers of Ev.io, announced a partnership with Coinbase for the Coinbase Cloud platform. Link
- Game developer Uplay Online announced a partnership with Freeverse.io to use its “living asset” NFT tech. Link
Notable Market Moves
- This week, most of the tokens saw some upward movement on the 9th followed by a drop on the 13th. As expected, this was in line with the general movement of Bitcoin and Ethereum. Ethereum did, however, successfully complete “The Merge,” so we could potentially see some divergence around Ethereum in the near future.
- ApeCoin was by far the winner this week with a 13.85% gain. The big event for ApeCoin was a DAO governance structure recommendation for a rolling election system built around stability. Judging by multiple upswings in the price, the community took this proposal as a bullish signal. In our view, there still is a lot to prove beyond the hype, however.
- StepN also performed decently despite the drop on the 13th. The big difference was a much sharper jump up on the 9th alongside StepN’s announcement of its 1-year anniversary and the introduction of a 12,000-step challenge. While the token value is extremely far from its ATH, it is at least performing above its 90D of $0.62.
- Looking at historical 90D and 1YR prices, The Sandbox is showing good consistency during its 3rd Alpha Season by staying above both its 90D and 1YR, something none of the other tokens on the list can say. BORA has shown a good amount of growth over its 1YR at 33.15% up, but it’s still struggling to maintain a steady climb above its 90D. ApeCoin is way above its 90D but far below its $26.19 ATH, and it’s unlikely to reach those heights again unless The Otherside blows everyone away. WAX and Enjin are also doing well 90D-wise, but are pretty far down from 1YR, which makes sense as those are older chains that haven’t been so active.
- As always, we remind you to look long-term as the technology continues to mature, especially after such a successful and massive tech upgrade like The Merge. It’s also important to look beyond the price action and hype of any given token and focus on the fundamentals.
Content Worth Consuming
- Crafting Mechanism Design: Parallel and Sequential Crafting (Metaversus) - “Blockchain games offer the opportunity to explore users' economic behavior because economic activity is public on a blockchain. An interesting economic activity is crafting, in which a user consumes resources to obtain an item . Here, we refer to all non-fungible tokens as items, whether they are called items, characters, or land in their respective platforms. Thus, we consider breeding—i.e., using characters and resources to craft additional characters—as a type of crafting. In this case study, we explore two crafting events in the blockchain game Axie Infinity: Lunacian Express and Lunacian Summer. While the crafting mechanisms differ across many parameters in the two events, this exploration reveals insights into how the design of crafting mechanisms may affect crafting usage behaviors.” Link
- A Closer LOOKS at Smart Airdrops (Natalie Docherty) - “Right off the bat, the airdrop generated eye-popping growth. Over 60% of targeted wallets claimed their tokens by listing a NFT, and this impressive conversion rate spurred a flurry of transactions on the LooksRare marketplace. Within one day, total volume on LooksRare surpassed OpenSea. For the month of January, LooksRare’s volume was almost three times that of OpenSea and totaled over $9B. As a result, LooksRare garnered enormous buzz across the world of crypto and NFTs.” Link
- Sustainable Web3 Game Economy Design (Vader Research) - “In this episode, web3 game economy consultant Devin Becker joins Vader Research Podcast to discuss sustainable web3 game economies.” Link
- A Deep Dive into Liquidity Pools ft. Crypto Unicorns (The Metacast by Naavik) - “On this week’s Crypto Corner, we take a deep dive into one of the core DeFi primitives - liquidity pools. Laguna Games’ Cofounder and CEO, Aron Beierschmitt, and Games Researcher/Angel Kiet Fong join your host Nico Vereecke for a conversation about: What are Liquidity Pools? Why are they relevant to Web3 games like Crypto Unicorns? What do game devs need to consider when setting them up? What are Liquidity Bootstrapping Pools?” Link
- Indonesia’s growing game economy leans toward blockchain (Gamesbeat) - “Full told, Indonesia might have 2,000 game developers across 25 studios. “The devs may be making games for multi-person studios or working as freelancers or indies,” Chen said. “And Bali itself has just eight game studios,” said Orlando ‘Nando’ Nehemia, the head of Big Fire Studios and Miracle Gates Entertainment in Bali. In general, the Indonesian developers are working for relatively low wages as are many others in the country, as the per capital annual income in Indonesia is just $3,105. But costs are low too, and so it is possible for smaller companies like Agate to turn a profit.” Link