As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to ram through the world, Filipinos have found an innovative way to win cryptocurrency by playing the video game “Axie Infinity.” Citizens of Cabanatuan City in the Philippines have resorted to playing video games to cope with the struggles of lockdowns. The gameplay, however, isn’t just for entertainment.
SkyMavis’ Axie Infinity has granted the opportunity to win cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFT) by breeding, fighting, and trading digital pets known as Axies.
A mum, three young entrepreneurs, a recent college graduate, a pedicab driver, an elderly married couple, and one of the first people in Cabanatuan City to discover Axie Infinity are all featured in a new mini-documentary named “Play-to-Earn,” which was released on YouTube on Thursday by crypto consulting firm Emfarsis.
According to the documentary, the phenomenon that started last summer exploded after an article published in August dramatically increased the number of players. Axie Infinity is now being played by nearly 60,000 people, according to Jeffrey Zirlin, Axie’s head of development.
Although the digital game has no boundaries, it has exploded in popularity in the Philippines, which has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. According to IHS Markit, GDP contracted 9.6 percent in 2020, the largest annual decline since data collection began in 1946.
Several cities saw an uptick in cases toward the end of March, leading to the introduction of new mandatory lockdowns. About 26 million people, according to the same report.
“At first, I wasn’t sure that this game was really making money by playing, but I tried it,” one gamer called Art Art said in the documentary. “We have no way of making money because of the pandemic. That’s how it got started in Cabanatuan City.”
Even while working, an elderly married couple of store owners plays. “I’m playing while I’m in the store,” said Lolo, who is 75 years old. “I’ll only play even though I’m losing.”
NFTs are used by Axie Infinity to buy the rights to each cat. SLPs, or small-love potions, are purchased or foraged to grow these pets. You can sell these pets or SLPs for cryptocurrencies, which you can then exchange for your own currency.
“It’s like playing chess when you’re in the game. In the documentary, recent college graduate Howard says, “It’s a strategic game.”
Pokémon and CryptoKitties were used as inspiration for Axie Infinity. The latter was one of the first crypto video games to gain popularity.
“You can play as long as you have a phone and internet connection,” Zirlin told.
The volatility of cryptocurrencies collected by Filipinos by playing video games is a popular criticism. Since Ethereum allows players to “sync and swap” their funds, the trading activity has some players concerned. Ethereum has gained at least 65% in the last month but fell 7% during Thursday’s trading session. Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, appeared on “Saturday Night Live,” causing Dogecoin’s trading price to plummet by 30%.
“Axie is a self-contained economy. It can experience fluctuations, as any emerging market does, due to macroeconomic factors, but in the long run, we believe that our digital nation will see high GDP growth, boosting our in-game economy,” Zirlin said.
More games will be introduced in collaboration with Axie Infinity, creating a sort of virtual world, according to Zirlin, as well as wider access through computers rather than just cell phones.
“What counts is that we have enough money to feed, pay our bills, and get by each day. It [Axie Infinity] met our everyday needs, paid our bills, and cleared our debts,” a mother of three said in the documentary. “I was grateful to Axie because she supported us in every way.”
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