A community in Cabanatuan City, Philippines resorts to playing Vietnamese startup SkyMavis’ NFT game Axie Infinity as a way to make a living amidst the multiple lockdowns in the country brought upon by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Axie Infinity allows players to obtain non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and cryptocurrencies that can be converted into fiat currency. They earn an income by breeding, trading, and battling the game’s digital pets called Axies.
It was after Coindesk published an article about the game in August 2020 that it gained traction. Detailing how Axie Infinity has helped Filipinos during the ongoing pandemic, the article boosted the player base to approximately 60,000 gamers.
Last May 11, crypto consulting firm Emfarsis and gaming company Yield Guild Games released a short documentary ‘Play-to-Earn’ narrating the experiences of several Filipinos in playing Axie Infinity through their Youtube channel.
‘At first, I’m not convinced that this game is actually earning by playing, but I tried it. Due to the pandemic, we have no means of earning money. That’s why it spread here in Cabanatuan City,’ Filipino gamer Art Art stated in the documentary.
‘What matters is having money so we can eat, avoid debts and get through every day. Axie Infinity sustained our daily needs, paid our bills, and debts. I was thankful to Axie because somehow it helped us,’ Zabrina, a player and a mother of three, added.
Axie Infinity Head of Growth Jeffrey Zirlin shared that the game was inspired by the popular video games Pokémon and CryptoKitties.
‘As long as you have phone and internet access, you can play,’ Zirlin said. ‘Axie is its own economy. It might have swings like any emerging market based on macro factors, but long long term we believe that our digital nation will experience high GDP growth which will spur our in-game economy.’
With the high unemployment rate, many Filipinos found interest in playing the game in exchange for some income. In an analysis conducted by data provider IHS Markit on April 9, the Philippines is one of the many countries that suffered from a deep economic recession due to the pandemic.
‘To a crypto investor, gaining $300 or $400 a month might not mean that much, but for these people, it means the world. It’s food on the table, it’s money for their families and it’s saving them when they cannot even leave the house during this pandemic,’ Altitude Games company co-founder Gabby Dizon stated.
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