Back in July 15th, I wrote this post on Publish0x about Axie Infinity and whether it was worth the hype. Since I wanted to learn the ins and outs of Crypto firsthand, I bought a team of 3 Axies for USD 1500 and started playing to see what the hype was about.
I was hoping to achieve 3 things:
- Break even within 3 months of playing.
- Learn how to move real money from my bank to my crypto wallet and vice versa.
- Understand the hype around cryptocurrencies and whether it can be trusted.
The reason I chose Axie Infinity isn't because I personally felt it was the best thing since sliced bread in the crypto NFT space. I simply felt it was right for me, because:
- I like playing games like these on my downtime
- I would be playing some other game like Dota or Civ6 instead if I wasn't playing Axie, which was making me feel guilty about sinking all that time into them (I have 1000 hours logged on Civ6 and 2500 hours logged on Dota).
- I've played enough turn-based strategy games that I'm familiar with their mechanics and how to spot good plays. So I'm confident of being at least decent at Axie.
So after almost 5 months of playing this game, what is the verdict?
Starting out was easy. Adventure mode was a guaranteed reward of 150 SLP a day, and on top of that, you could earn more in Arena. (SLP stands for Smooth Love Potion and it is Axie Infinity's reward token. The other token they use is AXS which isn't important for this discussion.)
With the competitive team that I bought, I was earning around 6 SLP per match, for a total of 10 wins a day out of 20 maximum matches. When all was said and done, I was earning roughly 6000 SLP a month.
However, reading comments online, there were those who bought what are known as "Floor Axies" which stands for the floor of the marketplace. They were having a tough time of it because outside of Adventure, the teams were simply not good enough to win in Arena matches. They got seriously burned when the Axie developers slashed Adventure earnings by half to 75 SLP - the reason being for "the economic health of the game" which simply translates to "SLP is losing its value at a rate that can't be stopped".
Full disclosure: I was ready to get burned and never see that money again.
Here's the honest breakdown of how much I was able to earn back in SLP.
I converted it to USD via USDC, a USD price-matching coin that uses the Ethereum network. I don't count my earnings until they're in a currency that actually matches a real-world one, which makes sense to me as a gauge for how much I'm actually earning.
- 1st Month withdrawal: USD 798 at 4200 SLP (1 SLP is worth 0.19 USD)
- 2nd Month withdrawal: USD 480 at 6000 SLP (1 SLP is worth 0.08 USD)
- 3rd Month withdrawal: USD 350 at 5000 SLP (1 SLP is worth 0.07 USD)
- 4th Month withdrawal: USD 400 at 4000 SLP (1SLP is worth 0.10 USD) *
Total earned back: USD2000+. Prices are rough estimates to an accuracy of 95%.
Keep in mind that each time I withdrew, I had to pay out roughly $30-60 in gas fees (which is the Ethereum network's transaction fee paid to the coders/machines for making the transaction for you). So all in all, I spent USD135 on fees, which is one of the hidden costs of making trades in Crypto that people tend to gloss over.
*Also note that when I withdrew in the 4th month, I got lucky because Axie Infinity had just released Katana, their own crypto exchange in order to combat the high gas fees that Ethereum required to move money in and out of Axie Infinity. The increased speculation drove up the price of SLP from 0.06 to 0.10 USD. A few weeks after that renewed speculation, the price settled at 0.06 USD.
Let's say I were to fold my cards, sell my Axies, and withdraw from crypto — what would I stand to gain?
- Back in October 2021, my Axies were priced at: 2 Aquas (RM700) + 1 Plant (RM600).
- Total RM 2000 - 5% selling fee (RM100) - RM 200 average gas fee = RM1700 (USD 400).
- USD 400 + USD 2000 - USD 1500 = USD900 (RM4000).
Which means, over a period of 4 months, I earned around RM1000 per month. All from playing a game using magic internet money.
If this seems too good to be true, it might be. When I made these calculations, the price of ETH was at an all-time high - which may have inflated the value of what I got by a margin of anything from 25% - 50%. This means what might seem high could partially be attributed to rise of the value of Ethereum at time of calculation. I'll need to declare the tax on my earnings as "earnings from investments", which will lower the potential earnings even further. Perhaps the real value is roughly around RM2000-3000. I haven't tried to cash any of it out in MYR yet, and that there are other, less time-intensive ways to earn. But compared to minimum wage at McDonalds, this was much better.
December 8th update:
- Right after I wrote the above calculations in late October, I reinvested my earnings in ETH back into Axie by buying 4 more Axies for RM 4800/USD 1200, and renting 3 from a friend. This gave me 40 matches to earn SLP with, instead of 20 when I was using my basic team of 3 axies. I'm currently earning around 9-12 SLP with the new team, which is around 200-250 SLP a day, slightly higher than usual. But it comes with double the time investment (around 2.5 hours compared to 1.5 hours previously) and with SLP devalued down to 1/5 of the price when I first joined, it's pretty rough.
- The recent nerfs to some aqua cards made my starter team less competitive, which brought me down to a lower skill bracket, to the point they were earning around 3 SLP a match. The lower earnings made it less worth it to play the game.
- The price of SLP took a huge dive from RM0.27 (Already much lower than when I joined at RM0.75) to RM0.15 earlier this week.
- Due to the changes, I'm starting to draw up plans for eventually selling off all my axies and leaving this space, once I break even again - I will either convert everything to ETH, or keep it in AXS - Axie Infinity's investor token.
- I'm recognising a pattern of the game becoming more and more geared towards esports and a 'winner takes all' system of earning. It's similar to other games where you can earn money - you need to be at a certain skill bracket to earn at a competitive rate.
- The rate at which meta axies drop in value when they are not longer in the meta needs to be calculated when looking at how much you stand to earn - if my Axies somehow retained their value when I first bought them, I would have more than doubled my earnings! In the world of crypto, earnings from Axie are really chump change compared to some APYs out there.
Is Axie Infinity worth playing for money?
Just from looking at the graph, the value of SLP is on a downward trend, and there's little indication that it is stopping. My competitive team that I paid USD1500 for is now worth USD 300. The reason for this is because SLP is being minted faster than it is being burnt. The devs are working on a solution to this, but so far, it seems that as long as the only value SLP has is to be exchanged for ETH / breeding, people have no incentive to keep hold of it, so as soon as they earn it, they sell it. That being said, the price of SLP may well likely drop to the levels before the hype (at 0.04 USD per SLP in January) but it is unlikely to drop further than that.
The weird thing is, I still turned a profit, even with the value of SLP on a downward trend. I withdrew my SLP every month instead of holding on to it, so I cashed in when the prices were still high compared to where they are now. If you plan to join, you'll need to cash out your SLP and not hold it waiting for a big change to spike the prices (Although, if you're feeling lucky, you're well within the right to do so).
If you take a look at the table below, I've tried to illustrate what would happen if you were to hold on to your SLP instead of withdrawing once you've earned a set amount. As the price of SLP continues to drop, the larger your pool of SLP is, the more likely it will actually be worth less over time than if you had withdrawn it consistently every two weeks:
On a deeper level...What is the effort cost of sinking effort into a crypto game in terms of hours?
Since time is money, let's calculate how much time I put into this. Hours spent on the game: 1.5 hours a day for 120 days = 180 hours. RM4000 / 180 = RM22/hour.
One could argue that could have spent those 180 hours in other ways, such as:
- Playing another game.
- Earning more money with other side hustles.
- Resting. Which helps recharge my brain and keep me mentally alert.
Arguably, there are better and faster ways to earn money. But when I first joined, I was trying to find ways to kill two birds with one stone:
- Enjoy my downtime
- Earn a side hustle without feeling like I'm working
- Get a little emergency fund going
- Learn about crypto
Based on those metrics, I would consider this experiment a minor success. I learnt how to move money into crypto, in a way that was fun and exciting.
Questions you might have about Axie Infinity
- Is it legit? Can you earn real money? Yes, as long as you believe cryptocurrency as a whole is legit. If you don't, you'll need to research and understand the risks involved in this financial instrument. You need to learn how to withdraw your earnings to ETH (Ethereum) and to your currency. Make sure you read up on your country's laws on withdrawing crypto — if it's banned, you'll need to figure out how to withdraw to a different currency.
- Can you depend on it for side income? Debatable. If you enjoy fluctuating prices and don't get a heart attack from prices dropping to a fraction of what they were a day ago, you'll be fine. The truth is, nobody can tell whether the value of SLP will go up or down next, you can't predict the value of the money you earn. But if it's just something to spend your free time on, there are worse ways to do it (like gambling, drugs, or an expensive hobby, like cars).
- Is it worth it? Good question. Whenever I think about whether I'm wasting my time with magic internet money, I remind myself that I'm literally monetising my downtime that would not have gone to anything productive or produce anything of value anyway — so I might as well have fun playing and learn something while doing so.
- Is it too late to start? The value of the competitive Axies you can buy was hyperinflated during the hype a few months ago. I bought my axies at triple the prices they are at now. Now the prices have stabilised. Now's as good a time as any, and better than when I first joined because the risk is much lower. But the earnings are also a fraction of what they used to be.
My advice for anyone debating on whether to enter the Axie Infinity market:
- If you don't inherently like the gameplay, it's gonna be a slog. Watch some videos, learn how the cards work. Does it look fun? This is probably the first question you need to ask. It's not worth it if you don't find a modicum of fun from playing.
- Don't blindly assume you'll definitely make a set amount of SLP each month. Calculate your best-case and worst-case scenario and see how long it takes to make your initial investment back. For me, the SLP devaluing to this price was a worst case scenario. It took me longer than I hoped to make my investment back, but the risk was mitigated because I was able to consistently earn 9 SLP per match in my bracket.
- Research the meta before buying. Don't get axies with useless cards, no matter how tempting the prices are. Competitive axies will always be worth the added investment, because if you can't win games, you can't earn SLP, and the trend as it stands is to reduce SLP earning from adventure and pumping more incentives for players to earn in arena.
- Follow developer updates on their Twitter and Discord channels. Find out what they tweet to see where their heads are at. Developers can often hint at balancing updates that could negatively affect your rate of earning SLP, so pay close attention. For example, when they reduced the amount you can earn from Adventure, a lot of people complained because they were using Adventure-focused axies to earn, and this change cut their earnings in half.If you trust them, you'll trust that they won't change the rules of the game too much where you'll end up being in a bad spot.
- Evaluate the long-term future of Axie for yourself. Recently (as of November 2021), they allowed SLP to be exchanged for AXS and other tokens on their own network instead of relying on Ethereum. This was huge news in the community and made the price of SLP balance out. So it seems Axie Infinity is here to stay, but it remains to be seen just how lucrative playing it will be for newbies entering now (let me know your experience in the comments). Don't hope to catch it ahead of another hype-driven spike in prices - The hype's come and gone, and only the OG players remain.
That's all folks. Until next time.
To read my review of Axie Infinite back in July before I started playing it, click here.