Yield Guild Games and Axie Infinity: The Journey So Far
In this article, we revisit the milestones and key events that were important in creating the impact the duo had on web3 gaming, the open metaverse, and on communities around the world.
In 2022, the Philippines was recognized as a global epicenter of web3 adoption. While the country has long been a leader in blockchain innovation, as the home of pioneering digital asset exchanges such as Coins.ph, much of the recent adoption momentum can be attributed to a long-standing friendship between Yield Guild Games and Sky Mavis’ Axie Infinity. Together, they have made a major impact on the foundations and continued growth of the local and global blockchain gaming industries, paving the way for many subsequent innovations in the web3 space.
Philippines, 2018: Jihoz speaking on a panel with (L-R) Atty. Raf Padilla, YGG co-founder Gabby Dizon, Matthew Campbell from Loom Network, and Peter Ing at a BlockchainSpace event
In 2018, Axie Infinity was recognized as the answer to the question: What will be the next CryptoKitties? The game was launched by Sky Mavis, a fledgling web3 startup, on a US$1.5 million seed led by Animoca Brands. This was when Axie Infinity had less than 100 players daily.
Gabby Dizon, a game developer, entrepreneur and skilled Axie breeder, was one of those players. He met Jihoz in May 2018 at a gaming conference Through their shared enthusiasm for blockchain games, Gabby and Jihoz quickly became friends. Together, they were extremely early advocates for the utility of NFTs — well before NBA Top Shot, Beeple’s “Everydays” and Bored Ape Yacht Club cracked the mainstream.
Growth of Axie Infinity
In late 2020, amid the COVID-19 lockdowns, Axie suddenly became the breakthrough blockchain game of what would be known as the “play-to-earn” revolution. As seen in the award-winning short film “Play-to-Earn: NFT Gaming in the Philippines” (May 2021), Axie Infinity was an income-earning opportunity for Filipinos who found themselves locked down, out of work and struggling to feed their families. As the demand for these NFTs skyrocketed, the upfront cost needed to play became unaffordable for many.
In response, Gabby Dizon, Beryl Li and Owl of Moistness co-founded Yield Guild Games (YGG), a decentralized gaming guild that would acquire the needed NFTs so new players, called “scholars,” could borrow them at no upfront cost. This made NFT games much more accessible.
See also: Sponsor-A-Scholar - a program allowing organizations and individuals to help scale the positive impact of web3 games by contributing funds to cover the cost of the NFT assets needed to play
At its peak, Axie counted over 2.7 million DAUs (daily active users), with nearly half of the entire playerbase coming from the Philippines.
Another major growth driver was the launch of Sky Mavis’ Ronin sidechain. The introduction of Ronin not only drastically reduced the costs associated with breeding Axies and unlocked the game’s exponential growth, but it also created a dedicated payment rails for the entire Axie community. Soon, local merchants were readily accepting payments in SLP.
Axie Infinity’s Developments and Hurdles
Despite the lowered cost of breeding Axies thanks to the introduction of the Ronin sidechain, the significant price drop of SLP and AXS still made Axie’s virtual economy unsustainable. Because of that, Sky Mavis began to sunset their first title, Axie Infinity: Classic.
In March 2022, the bridge between Ronin and the Ethereum blockchain was targeted by North Korean hackers, Lazarus Group, siphoning US$625 million in Ethereum and stablecoins. In the wake of the attack, Sky Mavis raised a US$150 million round for the purpose of reimbursing affected users. Sky Mavis also strengthened the Ronin network by adding more validators to the node pool, including YGG among others.
Sky Mavis has since focused on Axie Infinity: Origins, a new version of the original game with a gameplay and economy revamp.
Axie’s Evolution to P&O and Axie Core
With the gameplay and economic revamp, Axie has shifted from P2E to Play-&-Own, which enables players to own the in-game assets that they purchase and can generate real-world rewards for their in-game activities. The P&O philosophy focuses on players being able to have fun playing a game while also owning their in-game assets.
This philosophy is seen through Axie Core, a user experience designed to strengthen the emotional bond between a player and its Axies, similar to how a pet and its owner have a strong relationship in real life. Through Core, the connection will be cultivated and strengthened through collectibility, ownership - Axie raising including feeding and petting Axies, tokenomics and gameplay.
The Evolving Guild Model
The guild model has also had to evolve and adapt to changing market conditions. Throughout the crypto winter, YGG has moved to support a range of upskilling and education initiatives to help its guild members uncover income-earning opportunities in the open Metaverse.
These developments include:
The launch of the Guild Advancement Program
The YGG subDAO model
YGG has also expanded its reach by establishing regional subDAOs that take a hyperlocalized approach to address the needs of the global YGG community.
Axie Infinity Esports Tournaments
Philippines, June 2022: Axie players compete in Baguio City, the first stop of the YGG Pilipinas Roadtrip, a roadshow event that held play-to-earn tournaments for casual players.
YGG and Axie Infinity recognize the potential that web3 esports can bring to professional players, content creators and shoutcasters. In this regard, they continue to cultivate an esports scene for Axie Infinity.
Here are some notable Axie Infinity esports events this past year:
Learn more about YGG’s vision for web3 esports here.
The Philippines as the Epicenter of Web3 Adoption
Philippines, November 2022: The week-long Philippine Web3 Festival took place in BGC, Metro Manila, on November 14-18, bringing together games, guilds, projects and VCs from all over the world to the epicenter of web3 adoption.
Their impact on the Philippines has made it an epicenter of web3 adoption, and the journey they have traveled together continues as the web3 ecosystem develops further. Leading the community into the future, the guild and its first and oldest ally will continue to provide value and meaningful experiences to the players who have dedicated their time and passion to exploring the open metaverse.
Read the Medium article for a more detailed piece on YGG and Axie Infinity’s journey.