Sky Mavis, creator of Axie Infinity, the play-to-earn crypto game made famous during the pandemic, may have taken a major step towards adding back many of the users it lost after a tumultuous 2022.
The company announced that the newest incarnation of its blockchain-enabled Axie Infinity video game, which allows gamers to battle one another while collecting and trading non-fungible tokens (NFTs) or earning rewards, will be available for download on Apple’s App Store.
Sky Mavis launched the latest version of the game, called 'Axie Infinity: Origins,' last year.
Initially the company is launching the game on the App Store in a select number of countries throughout Latin America and Southeast Asia. Sky Mavis co-founder Jeffrey Zirlin said the limited rollout will help the company “gather data around retention rates” before an eventual global launch.
Countries where Apple users will be able to download the game include Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Venezuela, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam, the company said in a statement.
Zirlin said Sky Mavis has been working with Apple for about a year on gaining approval to launch 'Axie Infinity: Origins' on the App Store. Apple has historically made it difficult for companies who want to allow users of their smartphone applications to buy, sell and trade NFTs.
Hope Apple comes around to NFTs
The Sky Mavis executive is optimistic Apple’s policies will eventually evolve in favor of web3 companies.
“We are hopeful around adding in-app purchases for NFTs and Apple allowing for the linking to third-party marketplaces,” said Zirlin. “We expect there to be progress in the future.”
Apple’s App Store rules may have stifled adoption of some blockchain-enabled applications as the company has restricted how and where digital assets like NFTs can be purchased using its devices or demanded a 30% cut of in-app sales.
“That is definitely one of the variables that makes things hard,” said Zirlin. “But I do know that there are larger players than us fighting that fight. For example, Epic Games.”
Epic Games, the maker of the wildly popular Fortnite video game, has taken Apple to court to protest the tech giant’s policy.
Axie Infinity grows by word of mouth
Zirlin said for now Sky Mavis is hoping to see a growth spurt after iPhone users download the game.
“Seventy percent of our users come from family and friend referrals,” he said. “So actually being on the App Store… that’s really important for our growth machine.”
He also said that by Sky Mavis’s estimates 'Axie Infinity: Origins' is the “most-played web3 game right now” with more than 1.5 million downloads.
From a trading and adoption perspective there hasn't been a web3 video games or NFT collection that has come close to equalling Axie Infinity’s success.
During the pandemic, Axie Infinity not only introduced millions of people to the play-to-earn gaming model, it also generated more than $4 billion in trading volume, according to CryptoSlam! Data. People in the Philippines for a time managed to make a living playing the game.
“We’re the only web3 game that mainstream people have really heard of,” said Zirlin.
Axie Infinity hack
The attention surrounding Axie Infinity, however, hasn’t always been positive. Last year, the North Korean hacking group Lazarus allegedly stole more than half a billion dollars from the gaming platform after it stopped using the Ethereum blockchain in favor of its own chain called Ronin.
Both user numbers and trading volumes shrank dramatically. Since achieving a high-water mark in August 2021, when Axie NFT trading volume hit $870 million on nearly 1.9 million transactions, activity has plummeted.
Last month Axie NFTs registered $2.3 million in trading on less than 140,000 transactions, according to CryptoSlam! data.
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