One of the hottest games within the crypto community right now is something called Axie Infinity, grabbing headlines because of its native token AXS’s meteoric, three-figure rise over the past few months. Tens of thousands of users are wanting in and capitalize on this new hybrid of cryptocurrency and online gaming that’s proving to be a lucrative investment.
Perhaps the most common question being asked about this game is: how much do I need to get in? As a blockchain “play-to-earn” game, upfront costs for investment are necessary before being able to play your hand and rake in the profits.
What is Axie Infinity?
Axie Infinity is a Pokemon-inspired blockchain game where players get to raise and breed digital pets called Axies and have them battle with other players in the Axie ecosystem. True to its Pokemon-style roots, it’s a simple yet flexible and highly enjoyable gameplay.
And add to that how significant the earning potential is within the game, and it’s not difficult to understand how Axie Infinity now boasts over 1,000,000 daily active users and is easily the most popular (and most lucrative) blockchain game of 2021 so far.
As a blockchain game, these Axies are offered to the players as NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, which means that players have ownership over their cute digital pets. Throughout the “play-to-earn” gameplay, Axies are rewarded with in-game tokens, like Axie Infinity Shards (AXS) and Smooth Love Potions (SLP), which players can then trade within the Axie Marketplace to earn money. As NFTs, the Axies themselves can also be traded and sold within the community.
How much does it cost to start playing Axie Infinity?
Because Axie Infinity currently only operates around NFT items, interested players must first purchase their own Axie NFTs from the Axie marketplace to get into the game. Depending on their stats and abilities, Axies can range in price anywhere from 0.035 ETH (around Php6,500/$130) up to 300 ETH (around $1.1 million as of writing), the most expensive Axie ever sold back in late 2020.
To get started, you need to first purchase 3 Axies to complete your starter team. As of this writing, this means that you need to have at least $500 to $600 (or thrice the price of the lowest Axie) to start playing. But remember that’s only the minimum, as Axies with good stats and cards usually cost more.
At first glance, it definitely seems like a lot of money to put into playing just one game, especially when compared with the $499 asking price of the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X.
Rather than just a price point, it’s much better to look at your Axie NFT purchase as an investment, because you do get ownership of your NFTs and you get to earn a profit equal to the amount of time and effort that you put into playing the game and honing your Axies.
How do I compute my starting cost for Axie Infinity?
As with most cryptocurrencies, the value of the ETH is highly volatile, and thus, so are the prices of the Axies on the marketplace. If you want to check and estimate the cheapest cost that you can make to get started on your Axie Infinity, here’s what you can do:
1. Visit the Axie Marketplace and go to the Axie section.
2. From the drop-down menu for the sorting option, sort the Axies by “Lowest Price”. From the Filters, tick the “Adult” checkbox.
If you already have an idea on what class of Axies you want to have for your starter team, you can also add a filter to help you select.
3. The top resulting Axies will then appear with their prices in both ETH and in USD.
4. Because you need 3 Axies to fill up your starter roster, multiply the lowest price by three to get an estimate of what your initial investment should be.
Should I invest in better, more expensive Axies?
Yes, it is definitely not compulsory to begin your Axie Infinity journey with the cheapest Axies available. In fact, these “floor” Axies are cheap because they have less valuable stats and aren’t as powerful in battle as some of the pricier Axies.
Axies tend to have more workable stats and stronger abilities the higher their price gets. Axies with a smaller breed count are also more expensive, with “virgin” Axies (breed count of 0) are the most valuable.
Investing in more expensive Axies with better stats significantly makes the gameplay much easier because it will impact how well you battle other players and receive your rewards. This also means that you can get your return of investment much quicker compared to a longer struggle with weaker Axies.
If it is within your budget, it is definitely recommended to round out your starter team with Axies that have a bigger price tag but have better stats and cards. But always remember that it is completely possible to get by and get ahead within the game with only floor Axies in your team. It will all still depend on how you play.
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What factors affect the price of Axies?
Several factors are at play in dictating the price of Axies, which then fall into two bigger categories: the quality of the Axie, and market conditions.
First, the innate qualities of the Axie are what drives the difference of the prices of the Axies from one another.
The body parts of the Axie are what dictate its stats and the cards that it can play. Playing cards that are of the same class as your Axie rewards a 10% bonus to both Attack and Defense points.
That is why how pure an Axie is, or how many body parts it has that are of the same class, drives up its price on the marketplace. A Beast Axie with 4 Beast body parts out of 6 will be more expensive than a Beast Axie with only 1 Beast body part.
You can screen for an Axie’s Pureness (0 to 6) from the Filters when looking for Axies in the marketplace.
Each Axie has 4 cards that they can use for battles. Depending on the combination of the cards and the current meta, certain Axies with in-demand card combinations are more expensive than others.
Axies are limited to a maximum of 7 breedings (the number of times it has given birth to a new Axie) to avoid the hyperinflation of Axies in-game. Thus, the higher the Axie’s breed count, the lesser is its potential to create offspring, and the cheaper it becomes.
“Virgin” Axies are those that have a breed count of 0 and tend to be more valuable. However, breed count does not affect the Axie’s stats and cards.
When building your starter team, it’s recommended that you look for Axies with a higher breed count because they are cheaper but aren’t weaker than a similar Virgin Axie.
You can screen for an Axie’s Breed Count (0 to 7) from the Filters when looking for Axies in the marketplace.
The market conditions, like supply and demand and the ETH price, also impact the price of Axies as a whole.
Demand for Axies
As more and more people start discovering and joining Axie Infinity, which has been the case the past few months, the demand for Axies also grows against the number of available Axies, which drives the prices of Axies on the marketplace.
With the almost exponential boom of new Axie Infinity users last couple of months, the base price of Axies has also been steadily increasing. However, there are cases when the prices of Axies drop depending on the change in the game and other news related to cryptocurrency.
Price of ETH
Axie Infinity is built on Ethereum blockchain technology, and Axies are bought using ETH (wrapped ETH in the marketplace). As the market value of ETH fluctuates by the minute, so does the USD price of each Axie on the marketplace.
Is there a way to play Axie Infinity for free?
The high upfront costs in playing Axie Infinity is a major barrier for interested players who want to try the game but may not have the initial resources to do so.
Sky Mavis, the developers of Axie Infinity, has previously announced that a free-to-play (F2P) mode of the game is in the works for new players who want to try out the gameplay before investing in NFTs.
But even before the F2P mode gets released, there is already a possible way to play Axie Infinity for free. With an ever-growing user base, something called Axie Scholarships has sprung up within the community. This allows well-stocked players to lend some of their unused Axies to new users so they can start playing without spending a dollar upfront.
An Axie Scholarship program is offered by “Managers”, or veteran players who have several Axies but cannot use them in gameplay (only 3 Axies at a time can be used, and creating multiple accounts is prohibited). “Scholars” can then borrow and play these Axies on behalf of the Manager, while learning how the game works and getting a cut from the earnings.
Axie Scholarships are a fantastic way to address the cost barrier of playing Axie Infinity, and it is a win-win situation for both Manager and Scholar because:
- It allows eager Scholars to start playing and earning without having to spend money upfront; and
- It allows Managers to put to use more of their Axies as a form of passive income.
It is important to note that Axie Scholarships are not an official in-game feature of Axie Infinity, but are instead transacted outside of the game. Some of the places that you can check out for any available Axie scholarships are:
- Axie Infinity Discord server
- Axie Infinity Subreddit
- Axie Infinity Facebook groups
Because Axie Scholarships are done off-game and are therefore unregulated by the Axie Infinity team, make sure that you are transacting with trustworthy people when dealing with a Scholarship program, whether you’re a Manager or a Scholar.
A good starter team is essential in order to start playing with your furry Axies on Axie Infinity and getting profits on the side. And so far, the iteration of this blockchain game available requires the purchasing of your Axie NFTs upfront, or borrowing them under an Axie scholarship.
We are looking forward to the free-to-play mode (and other plans in the pipeline) that is being developed as it will surely open up Axie Infinity to more players, expand the community, and further improve the Axie gameplay.