Trend Alert | Axie Infinity

Izzy Hall

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Trend Alert introduces you to the latest trends that are impacting the daily lives of 16-24s.

Gaming is one of Gen Z’s favourite pastimes, with 67% of UK 16-24s playing console games and 77% playing mobile games at least once a week according to research we conducted last month. As an entrepreneurial generation always looking for ways to turn their passion into a career, it’s no surprise that the idea of making an income from gaming would appeal. You might assume that only a select few successful esports stars and Twitch streamers are able to make a living from gaming, but actually there’s a new trend that is creating a huge new cohort of professional gamers.

In a recent UK and US Youth Trends Reports (available now on Voxburner+), we shine a spotlight on the metaverse: the concept of a virtual world where you can interact with others and do activities as a virtual character or avatar, such as play games, watch live performances and make purchases. The creators of several of the most popular games among young people, including Fortnite and Roblox, have stated that their vision is to build a metaverse. In some metaverse-style games, players can not only make purchases but trade or sell virtual items based on their value in virtual currency. One example is the extremely fast-growing game, Axie Infinity.

Inspired by a combination of Pokémon and CryptoKitties, a cute cryptocurrency trading game we wrote about back in 2018, Axie Infinity was created by Vietnamese tech CEO Trung Thanh Nguyen. Following a spike in growth this year, the game reached the milestone of 1 million daily active users in August 2021. This might seem small compared to Roblox’s 43 million, but it’s highly impressive considering the cost and complexity of becoming a player. There are seven steps involved according to this guide, which include downloading multiple digital wallets and purchasing at least three characters (NFTs known as “Axies”), worth several hundred US dollars each.

Paying over $1000 to join a game might seem extreme, but it’s proven worthwhile for the millions who have signed up so far – the bigger the game grows, the more value their Axies accrue. Sales of Axie Infinity characters reached $42 million in June, making it the world’s most expensive collection of NFTs. So far, Axie Infinity is most popular in the global south, where many users have given up their day jobs, relying on trading Axies as their main source of income. The game blew up during COVID-19 lockdowns, where people were looking for new forms of work that could be done from home.

With research from YPulse showing that 60% of Gen Z are interested in investing in cryptocurrency, this combined with their passion for gaming shows the huge potential of Axie Infinity and other NFT games. However, the involvement of large sums of money in the game, and the risk of losing it, can pose a danger to young people who – as we reported last week – don’t feel well educated on finance. The ethics of marketing a game like this to young people are debatable. The creators of these games have a responsibility to provide clear support and guidance to all users, and implement strict safeguarding measures to prevent minors from participating, which will be increasingly difficult as their user bases grow.

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