Apple's Axie launch omits Philippines, despite popularity

Quick Take

  • Axie Infinity: Origins launches on Apple’s App Store in various countries but not in the Philippines, the game’s biggest market by far.
  • Game rollout on App Store “testing in smaller markets” like Indonesia and Mexico, both nations with populations larger than the Philippines.

Axie Infinity is coming to Apple's App Store, but not in the country that did the most to propel the play-to-earn game to become the biggest web3 game and NFT collection of all time, the Philippines.

"Right now Sky Mavis is testing in smaller markets as it prepares for a global launch," said a Sky Mavis spokesperson by email. The global launch will include the Philippines and Brazil, they said. Sky Mavis is the creator of Axie Infinity.

While those two countries are among Axie Infinity's hottest markets, ranking among the top five nations which had the highest number of players in 2022, the game has been by far most popular in the Philippines, according to Statista. More than 40% of the millions of people playing Axie were from there, said Statista.

When asked about when Axie Infinity: Origins — the title for the latest version of the game — will be available on the App Store in the rest of the world Sky Mavis' spokesperson said: "There are still a lot of variables to consider before we can provide a concrete global launch timeline, including how Sky Mavis continues to collaborate with app stores and mobile platforms," they said by email, adding that the company will be "analyzing user data and retention rates from the select test markets."

Thanks largely to the Philippines, where players sometimes could earn crypto that either supplemented their existing income, or became their principal mode of making a living during the pandemic, Axie Infinity has generated more than $4 billion in NFT trading, according to CryptoSlam! data.

Test first, expand later


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"Ultimately, the goal of our test markets is to refine the app and make necessary adjustments based on community feedback and data analysis before launching it to a broader audience," another spokesperson said. "The Philippines is the largest market for Axie so our goal is to expand our testing and make any changes needed, prior to launching in our largest market."

Countries where Apple users will be able to download Axie Infinity: Origins, the latest iteration of the game, include Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Venezuela, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam, the company said in a statement. There are more than 1.5 billion iPhone users in the world, according to DemandSage. Apple's iOS operating system has less than 10% market share in The Philippines, according to Statista.

Indonesia and Mexico are both larger markets than the Philippines with populations of about 274 million and 127 million respectively, according to World Bank data from 2021. The Philippines has a population of nearly 114 million.

'Axie Infinity: Origins' being offered for download on Apple's App Store, thus enabling iPhone users to play the game, is a big win, according to Sky Mavis co-founder Jeffrey Zirlin.

Historically Apple has been hostile to applications which want its users to be able to buy, sell and trade digital assets. 

© 2023 The Block. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

About Author

RT Watson is a senior reporter at The Block who covers a wide array of topics including U.S.-based companies, blockchain gaming and NFTs. Formerly covered entertainment at The Wall Street Journal, where he wrote about Disney, Netflix, Warner Bros. and the creator economy while focusing primarily on technological disruption across media. Previous to that he covered corporate, economic and political news in Brazil while at Bloomberg. RT has interviewed a diverse cast of characters including CEOs, media moguls, top influencers, politicians, blue-collar workers, drug traffickers and convicted criminals. Holds a master's degree in Digital Sociology.


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