The game, inspired by Nintendo’s Pokémon series in which you collect and pit monsters against each other in combat, has around 350,000 daily active users, according to the Vietnam-based company behind it, Sky Mavis.
Forty percent are in the Philippines, followed by Venezuela and the U.S.
In the Philippines, the game started to boom during summer last year as the Covid-19 pandemic kept people home, urging them to find new ways of entertaining themselves and earning money.
This year, growth in the Philippines has exceeded expectations, with the company expecting the same interest across the rest of Southeast Asia, especially in Malaysia, said Andrew Zyori Campbel, head of esports and content at Sky Mavis.
A woman plays Axie Infinity while holding a baby. Photo by Lorcan Gaming.
But making money in the game is not easy, as players need to start with an investment of $1,200-1,500 to build a team starter team featuring three monsters known as Axies.
They also need to be familiar with trading the Ethereum cryptocurrency used to purchase Axies.
There are tens of thousands of Axies for players to purchase, each of them priced from a few hundred dollars to $10,000.
“A player may need to spend a month on research before training their Axies to boost their strength rankings. Only then can they start thinking about making money,” said Anh Vu, who has been playing the game for over a year.
It would take one or two months for a player to recoup their investment, said Vu, adding fluctuations of Ethereum also impact profits and loses.
“Many people I know have poured big bucks into the game only to suffer losses.”
Data from cryptocurrency website Coingecko shows by spending eight hours a day playing the game a user could earn around $1,665 per month in the Philippines and Malaysia.
Some Vietnamese players say they earn $1,300-1,700 a month.
Another way for players to make money is to “breed” Axies. The most expensive Axie ever bred was recorded at the end of last year and was sold for 300 Ether ($120,000) at the time.
Since the beginning of this year, the trading value of Axies is worth $170 million a month on average.