People in the Philippines earn cryptocurrencies playing NFT Axie Infinity video game

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit the Philippines, people in the city of Cabanatuan, north of Manila, found a unique way to ease the difficulties caused by the closures: play video games.

The game, however, is not just for fun. Axie Infinity, created by SkyMavis, allows players to earn income through non-fungible tokens, or NFTS, and cryptocurrencies by raising, fighting, and trading digital pets called Axies.

A new mini documentary, released Thursday on YouTube by crypto consulting firm Emfarsis Called “Play to Win,” it follows several Filipino people who play the game: a mother, three young entrepreneurs, a recent college graduate, a pedicab driver, an elderly married couple, and one of the first people in town. Cabanatuan to discover Axie Infinito.

The phenomenon that began last summer exploded after a Coindesk article published in August significantly boosted the player base, according to the documentary. Nearly 60,000 people are now playing Axie Infinity, Axie’s head of growth Jeffrey Zirlin told CNBC.

While digital gaming knows no borders, it has really taken off in the Philippines, which has been hit hard by the pandemic. GDP contracted 9.6% in 2020, the largest annual drop on record since data collection began in 1946, according to IHS Markit. Several cities saw an increase in cases towards the end of March, resulting in new mandatory closures. The same research found that around 26 million people, nearly a quarter of the population, were affected by those latest closures.

“At first I’m not convinced that this game makes money playing it, but I tried it,” said one player in the documentary called Art Art. “Due to the pandemic, we have no means of making money. That is why it spread here in the city of Cabanatuan ”.

An elderly couple of shop owners also play games even while working. “While I’m at the store, I’m playing games,” said her husband Lolo, 75. “Even when I’m losing, I’ll just play.”

Axie Infinity uses NFT for the rights of every pet that is purchased. To grow these pets, you buy or grow SLPs or Little Love Potions. You can sell these pets or SLPs for cryptocurrencies and then exchange them to your respective currency.

“When you are in the game, it is like playing chess. It’s a strategic game, ”Howard, a recent college graduate, said in the documentary.

Axie Infinity was inspired by Pokémon and CryptoKitties. The latter was one of the first games to popularize cryptographic video games.

“As long as you have access to the Internet and a telephone, you can play,” Zirlin told CNBC.

A common criticism of the game is the volatility of cryptocurrencies. Since players “sync and trade” their money through Ethereum, the price action causes some players to get distraught. Ethereum is up almost 65% in the last month, but is down 7% during the trading day on Thursday. Tesla CEO Elon Musk made an appearance on “Saturday Night Live,” prompting a 30% drop in the trading price of Dogecoin.

“Axie is its own economy. It could have changes like any emerging market based on macro factors, but in the long term we believe that our digital nation will experience high GDP growth that will stimulate our economy in the game, “said Zirlin.

Zirlin predicts that more games will be added in concert with Axie Infinity, creating something of a metaverse, as well as wider access via computers rather than just mobile phones.

“What matters is having money to eat, avoid debt and get ahead every day. [Axie Infinity] he sustained our daily needs, paid our bills and debts, “said a mother of three in the documentary.” I was grateful to Axie because he helped us in some way. “

Tagalog, Spanish, Portuguese, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese versions of this documentary are available. here.

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