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Impossible Finance

Impossible Rambles — Edition 1 | Calvin’s Axie Infinity Obsession & The Impossible Metaverse Thesis

~Not investment advice, just a Saturday afternoon-turned ramble that would mean the world to me if it can get a lot of people thinking about what’s “Impossible” in crypto on a weekend.

This is the first article in a editorial series for Impossible.finance and research into potential sectors and opportunities for the soon-to-launch web3 incubator, launchpad, and swap.

Who knew cute little NFTs could be Alpha?

Foreword (Skip if you want less overall alpha but higher alpha-to-minutes-spent reading ratio — )

Hopefully you haven’t told your boss or significant other yet that you’re spending your weekends reading about NFTs, or better yet, on corporate job company time. But alas, here we are.

A bit on my fascination of NFTs: As a sports-obsessed kid, I bought tons of sports collectible cards, autographs of players that ultimately didn’t pan out nearly as well as I thought. I collected many sports, followed thousands of players, and collected dozens of autographs. One of my largest investments that drove me to work hard in small summer jobs and hustles, was to collect jersey cards and autographs of one of my favorite athletes at the time, Paul George. I had spent a few summers of work as a high-schooler, just to collect these rookie cards, which tend to command a higher premium for stars because the supply of those cards is far more rare than the production of cards for a star once they become famous. The more unheard of the player is, the less he gets featured early on, creating a scarce supply.

Sadly for me, not Annual Recurring Revenue

Unfortunately for me, Paul George ended up breaking his leg in Olympic training in one of the most gruesome injuries in recent sports history. Outside of the obvious decline in performance from potentially being a championship-winning star, the market for collectible cards has its seasonality, portability, and lack of liquidity. After school, pretty much every day I was scouring ebay for deals, and shipping costs, rating costs, and more would eat into any possible returns on these investments. Then comes the biggest issue — trust, centralization, and rarity. Supposedly, the cards were numbered to be /10 limited supply, with jersey patches of his last name and a fast-fading Sharpie autograph right on each letter. But I had to trust the company that was producing the cards that they didn’t mint more, or that they wouldn’t make as much after his rookie year. And the longer Paul George’s career got, the more assets of unique value to the Paul George collection there became. Then you get to the issue that some collectors may not care about this line, because it doesn’t feature George in their favorite NBA team’s jersey (Indiana Pacers, Oklahoma City Thunder, or today’s LA Clippers), instead, it was produced by a relatively smaller line SP of Upper Deck, which does not hold the official rights to produce cards for NBA players — instead, Panini does (and they’re working on some NFTs now as well).

Real-world collectibles have existed forever, but now, cardboard sitting in the basement of my parent’s place while I tap away at this laptop 13 timezones away, the years of hardwork in my collection, probably to be unearthed when someday my parents move. Talk about cold storage…

So we have touched on activated fanbases, trusted scarcity, the “rugpulls” and risks of illiquid assets, and the “costs of storage” in the collectible worlds. In this thesis, I’ll touch on why I think cryptocollectibles are actually incredibly interesting, and why

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Before I joined Binance, when I was in college teaching myself how to code, I helped write the solidity for the first forks of Cryptokitties: blockcities.co, with Preston Attebery, an incredible designer who had done some incredible sketches of buildings, and we thought — why not take the breeding logic of CryptoKitties to let people build mix-matched buildings — maybe combine the iconic Sears Tower of Chicago, where I was born, with the iconic zig-zag lights of the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong, where I would visit my grandma as a child. We didn’t have the term metaverse to describe what we wanted to see, but what we were thinking about was how real life people could express themselves in a digital first world.

During my last quarter at UChicago, Preston actually flew over to my apartment in Chicago, and slept on my couch while roaming the city of Chicago, taking the L (elevated trains), absorbing the inspiration to draw and design more of the city. We took some calls with some investors, thought about just selling some buildings, and seeing where it’d take off. Graduating school a year early, I didn’t have anything planned and fully expected that I wouldn’t get a job.

It just so happened that before I graduated, I got a call from my would-be boss at Binance, and had two options: go and build something on my own or join a fast moving exchange that was topping the exchange volume charts. I obviously chose the latter and quite honestly left Preston hanging — he put in a lot of effort to grow Blockcities and would continue on building it for a few years, with the NFTs living onchain well beyond just a front-end minting interface might show. Only 3232 were ever minted, if the collectors out there are interested: https://blockcities.co.

Of course, I learned a lot while being at Binance, and I don’t think I would’ve ever been able to find the confidence to tell my parents that I was taking my $75,000 a year degree and going to build a game on the blockchain, but sometimes in hindsight, I wonder what would’ve happened had I taken leap of faith around that time to focus full-time into NFTs have done quite well for themselves — see: Opensea’s $1.5B valuation this week, and the Cock Foster twins over at Nifty Gateway (owned by Gemini) doing some great things as well.

Now at Impossible Finance, while it isn’t just focused on NFTs and Metaverses, I really believe it’s important as a incubator, launchpad, and also a builder ourselves of onchain products, that we think about everything that can be built in the onchain world, and uncover every opportunity. It’s easy to just brush off “games” as things for kids and not real defi or fintech innovations, just like it was easy to brush off “ETH scaling solutions” in 2018 when we chose teams like Matic, Elrond, Celer, Harmony, and more as projects for our Binance Launchpad pipeline — heck, gas was barely 10 gwei back then, with ETH a lot cheaper too. It was pretty crazy when we picked a handful of Cryptokitties-enthusiasts-turned-game-studio — a team that would become known as “Sky Mavis” — behind the Axie Infinity game, to do a Binance Launchpad too.

Sidebar: Launchpads

A side note on Binance Launchpad: It’s kind of crazy that a team of just a handful of researchers on our team at Binance would within the span of a year end up picking now 3 three teams in our Binance Launchpad that didn’t have the most jaw-dropping seed investors, or the most star-studded teams, that have already become crypto-unicorns (Polygon, nee Matic, 18th Marketcap Rank, $5.9B circulating marketcap, Axie Infinity, #43 MC, $2.5B circulating marketcap, and Elrond, #56 MC, $1.6B marketcap). It was picking teams that were hustling, waking up earlier than us every day and working so late that we didn’t know anymore what timezone these founders were based in. It was picking products that could have a use-case for both today and tomorrow (Polygon started with some features for real-time notifications tools to read Ethereum events & started to explore the Plasma scaling world, Axie started as a crew of Cryptokitties enthusiasts that set out to create a larger economy around a collectible game and eventually added its own chain, Ronin, and Elrond started out with proving its scaling solution by attempting to build on a blockchain-powered fork of Brave/Chrome). But it’s funny we talk so much about the Softbanks, the Paradigms, the huge funds that have made profits for its investors and participants, we never talk so much about the brand that let its millions of users worldwide invest in 3 projects at marketcaps under 30M fully dilluted and just $1–2 million circulating. Every single user who simply staked BNB 3 years ago, participated in Binance Launchpads, and held the allocations they earned, would have received a return of 1000–6000X EACH their investment from just these three deals alone. It wasn’t some gated community or circle of insiders, it was an ecosystem that if any individual were interested in participating, they could’ve, and that because anyone could participate, these launchpads grew bigger and bigger and these projects became bigger and bigger, because of this permissionless participation in 3 of the biggest deals in crypto history.

TLDR: At Impossible, we have our work cut out if we want to become a platform that can offer projects a scalable platform to help launch their projects, as well as provide meaningful investment opportunities for users — it’s gonna be an uphill battle to be able to be the next platform or entity to find 3 unicorns, but we’re going to have to be creative to be able to pull off the same.

To be creative, we’re not just going to limit ourselves to simple products. It’s not easy to go off the beaten path of replicating traditional finance products, be it exchanges, lending platforms, and more, but sometimes it has been the most lucrative in crypto to particularly solve problems in a web3-first way. If you told me that oracles, which solve a defi-first need of pricing reliability, would be worth billions of dollars, I would’ve thought you meant that Oracle company that sponsors the Golden State Warriors arena, not some “Link Marines”.

As a web3 incubator and launchpad, it is incredibly important to embrace ideas and themes that aren’t just the tried and true formulas, but also pursue any unorthodox thesis that people with LPs (read: not their own money) have a hard time doing. Behind every Michael Saylor is an open-minded board that lets someone passionate about an idea to go about execution. For us, this was part of the reason why we didn’t want to just set up a fund, and make money for some select LPs — we want to push the boundaries of what’s possible in building in a decentralized world, and create an open launchpad platform that’s here to stay.

The Axie Infinity Thesis and the Alpha Framework for hunting opportunities

Professional baseball player Willie Keeler was famous for the phrase: “​​Hit ’em where they ain’t”. In investing and building, a lot of people mention the “blue ocean” strategy — find a niche in a market that is uncornered and corner it yourself. In crypto, this is easier said than done. You start as a lunatic, and then you become slowly surrounded by “apes” — people with high risk tolerance to embrace the notion that you might very well fail, but they like the upside the opportunity presents. But what keeps you building on or investing in something and hustling to create something even when everyone thinks you’re more than just a bit weird?

Teams like Delphi looked crazy when they spent $159K on 6 Axie Infinity assets, throwing capital “where they ain’t just yet”, even more crazy when Multicoin was so bullish on Solana and BNB, two of the top performers in 2020. It’s clear that crypto pays people for being bold, but being bold alone doesn’t make money. It’s about understanding a combination of the economics, psychology, and scalability of the matter at hand to understand the implications of what are the possible upsides and outcomes of such a bet. So before trying to jump into buying, shorting, or doing anything else related to the Axie Infinity ecosystem, it’s of utmost importance to understand what it is in the first place.

At its core, Axie Infinity features a three-part token system:

AXS as its core governance token, SLP, the asset earned by players and used to breed new Axies, NFTs that are needed to assemble 3-axie teams in order to participate in Axie’s Play-to-earn system. Taking inspiration from other games where one might earn experience points or other in-game currencies, Axie became the largest platform to embrace a mashup of e-sports tournament style play with earning relevant, on-chain assets in a semi-permissioned, semi-permissionless ecosystem to offer users the ability to turn their love, sweat, and tears into real on-chain assets.

Axies have a “bonding curve” that implies a digital scarcity that Cryptokitties failed to capture — that each axie can only be bred up to 7 times, with an increasing marginal cost denominated in SLP each time the axie is bred. An Axies’ breeding cost for the first three births of its parents is the (sum of each of its parents’ breed counts plus 2) times 150 SLP. Thus, an axie bred from two virgin parents costs currently 300 SLP. However, an even higher cost is levied on Axies once breeds get past 3: an axie bred from two six-birth parents would cost 6300 SLP. Additionally, a flat fee denomianted in AXS is also levied to each birth. This has both ensured that the Axie pool of assets out there has a very high rate of diversity (useful for a turn-based card game, where each Axie’s traits imply different moves and combos), and also create a significant cost for overbreeding that reduces velocity of both Axie tokens. In particular — this is an incredibly elegant application of Coase Theorem — creating incentive alignment for breeders and nonbreeders. Typically in some NFT game, there are few things stopping power users from taking advantage of new players or other less-active players, and so bots and larger entities tend to mint or grab a larger “market share” of the assets in the game. However, Axie solved two major problems in cryptoeconomics: decentralization of asset holders and rewarding users for both passive and active actions. Because all SLP used for breeding is burnt, this increasing breed fee essentially an incredible externality tax on power users who increase the supply of Axies as they mint more Axies to play with. This burn is powerful in offsetting the constant minting of SLP — the in-game currency earned from winning Axie matches. For the months of June and July, the amount of SLP burnt to mint Axies actually outpaced the amount of SLP being minted as rewards for players by over a million SLP per day (source: Axieworld, shoutout to Jeremy Ong of Delphi Digital for scraping the data), becoming an incredibly deflationary asset as more players stumbled upon the play-to-earn concept. Thus, players who were playing this game to earn SLP saw a significant wealth-shock to their income streams as SLP made its climb, while active breeders contributing to the supply of axies were also rewarded with their efforts in providing opportunities for players to get their feet into the game. For many Axie Infinity players, the product built by a team spanning multiple continents became a lifeline where their local earnings potentials, combined with the worldwide effects Covid has had on people -

A few powerful things had to happen all at the same time for a positive flywheel effect not seen since defi-summer — compounding rewards with multiple mechanisms to reward early adopters as well as newcomers to participate in an evergrowing trend. At first, all trends look like bubbles, but what made Axie’s near-impossible rise possible?

Early on, the game, sitting on mainnet Ethereum, started experiencing some growth as players stuck around in an open community to collect some of the rare assets, such as the Mystic Axies that Delphi took the plunge with, as well as assets such as Land. However, Axie quickly moved to the Loom blockchain and SDK to provide users with a more scalable, low-gas fee environment to handle some of its land and item assets. As gas fees increased on ETH mainnet, its implied breeding costs to mint new Axies became greater and greater, forcing only real enthusiasts to participate while racking up millions in MEV. At many points during defi summer, it cost much more in gas to mint an Axie than to even pay for the minting or to purchase one on a marketplace.

Pattern Searching

When the Axie Infinity team brought the assets over to their own gated EVM-compatible chain, Ronin, they actually unlocked the same effect that Flashbots has brought to MEV on on-chain arbs — allowing power users to start scalably participating in more opportunities with less “loss” going to miners. They unlocked the same effect that BSC and Polygon were able to capitalize on: userbases that were seeking a lower-friction environment to transact within their ecosystem — trading off some decentralization for that convenience.

Even today, Axie’s Ronin bridge holds nearly $100M USD worth of Ethereum and almost $500M of its AXS and SLP ERC20s, just showing the tip of the iceberg of what has been ported over to the chain. Over the last 7 days, Axie’s two ERC20 assets, SLP and AXS, rank amongst the top 10 in unique receivers, displaying just a fraction of the ecosystem’s activity in a non-cheap environment of ETH mainnet.

Data courtesy of Etherscan

We haven’t gotten into the most interesting part. In the last 30 days, over 1 million Axies have been sold on the official Axie Infinity marketplace (and more sold in OTC deals), with 267,296.4 ETH (current value of $576.7 million USD) changing hands. Many outsiders immediately jump to the notion that this is fake volume, and it’s no surprise that people do make this assumption given many exchanges’ transaction mining and wash trading-laden incentives. Axie is not one of them. With a 4.25% marketplace exchange fee that deters anyone from profitably wash trading (if you calculate a buy and a sell, that would be 8.5% total for both ways). But this is the economics behind how Token Terminal has calculated that over $120M in revenue has been accrued to the Axie Infinity Treasury, which is currently accumulating these fees. Most impressively, $115M of this revenue has come in just the last 7 weeks. Put into perspective, this amount on a daily mark comes in to be 4 times the amount of fees the entire Bitcoin network has paid daily over the same period. So it’s no surprise that many quantitatively driven folks have started to barrel in to AXS long positions while many Twitter faces and paid groups have started leading audiences into shorting the multi-billion dollar token that’s “just a game”. What has magnified this effect is that as more individuals short an asset — funding rates on futures platforms swing towards significantly negative marks, incentivizing more institutional money in a low-yield environment to seek hourly funding rates on positions of Axie assets that routinely imply 100–1000% APRs and even higher APYs when compounded

However, it is expected that within the next quarter or so, Axie’s team will convert these revenues to institute a new buy-back and/or staking rewards system to put these revenues back into the hands of AXS holders.

Intertwined & Stratified Markets For Efficient Economies

Part of Axie’s own little flywheel is how connected and purposefully disjoint each of its markets have been in the past, and what has been done to further align all the stars in the right places.

Firstly, Axie’s “SLP grind” is the perfect example of the “attention economy”, famously coined by Li Jin — with Axie’s strong stance against automation of gameplay to level the playing field for human players, the supply-side of attention and user metrics has come primarily from lower-income regions such as the Philippines. For outsiders, they often cite the expensive costs of Axie assets as a major hurdle in preventing players from entering the game — who would spend thousands of dollars on a few gifs? However, much as Uber drivers don’t typically all buy their own cars, most Axie players don’t own their own Axies. Instead, many players, who started out “gaming teams” and “scholarships” out of passion for the game, created what became full on clubs and organizations to purchase Axies and take the market risk of the underlying NFT, and then share them with players in a revenue share model such that brand new users with any Android or Windows device could earn a steady stream of revenue simply from playing a game. Be it stay-at-home mothers, workers disenfranchised due to COVID, and more, Axie provided a very unique value proposition for people stuck at home around the world. Some of these scholarships can be found here on Coingecko’s list, with leading teams such as Hooga Gaming, Newfound Nation, P2P Guild, and Yield Guild Games having purchased hundreds to thousands of ETH worth of assets to sponsor players performing for their teams and splitting 60–75% of gaming proceeds, denominated in SLP to their players.

This unique entwinement of “pseudo-institutional” participants alongside retail is actually a combo that Binance really tapped into — providing incredibly liquid venues for users to trade assets while attracting HFT firms around the world to start paying attention to crypto. Axie has been no different, by opening the door for such teams to pop up and bear the risk of the underlying assets while opening up earnings opportunities for everyday players.

With this SLP in hand — the timely move over to Ronin chain meant that larger-scale teams minting Axies could pay less gas fees to mint an Axie — ceteris paribus, the “MEV” lost to mine Axies on Ethereum mainnet instead allowed some consumer surplus to return to the SLP asset:
First, we must consider some no-arbitrage conditions that exist in Axie’s fairly complex economics. If an Axie cost say $120 on the marketplace, but just $100 of ETH to breed in defi summer, with 50% going to gas fees, most users would choose to still mint their own Axie and eat the gas fee, despite only $50 stemming from SLP value. A team of three Axies cost $300, and a player playing 8 hours a day could easily earn 300 SLP (at a price of $0.0333, would be $10 a day), meaning that a player owning their own Axies could break even in a month, and a gaming team could break even in about 2.5/3 months, a very reasonable breakeven period compared to the year-long breakeven periods for many traditional proof-of-work mining operations.
However, with the same game mechanics ported over to Ronin sidechain, assuming that individuals are still interested in an investment opportunity that could return the principal in 3 months, and even with a price drawdown of 75%, 1 year, investor-led momentum to invest in purchasing Axies and breeding Axies was still a rational economic choice.

Without the exorbitant tax that Ethereum mainnet presented as a gas fee, the gap in “MEV” deadweight loss meant that there was more producer surplus (in the form of SLP value) to capture in the production of Axies. Thus, SLP could theoretically command the minting value of $120 to maintain the no-arbitrage opportunity condition of purchasing an Axie directly on the marketplace of $120, 2.4X the “occupied value” that it had from the Axie minting mechanism before. Why this matters is that this occupied value directly translated into a higher “hourly wage” for players of the game and investors of the gaming teams, leading to a 2.4x shortening of the breakeven times and more players around the world attracted by median salaries that surpass many countries today (data courtesy of JX).

Source: https://twitter.com/jx_block

Sidebar: doing good

I first got into crypto when I was building a microfinance app with a few of my college dormmates. Some of the biggest crypto players like SBF are effective altruists. I knew that something powerful was happening in Axie at the beginning of defi summer, when the UNI retroactive airdrop dropped thousands of dollars for many users around the world, but in particular, also included users who sold SLP on Uniswap, the only permissionless market that was open for trading for thousands of players. Though Binance was the first centralized exchange to list the token, many of the games earliest users had no option to sell their tokens anywhere else. So when thousands of players saw such a large positive wealth shock, I was certain that there would be more positive impacts to come. There have been documentaries like the Play To Earn released in both English and Tagalog.

As we’ve seen more and more teams and projects making money, we’ve seen a lot of people give back to those less fortunate and empower them, literally teaching them how to fish rather than just giving them an Axie. We’ve seen players pay for groceries with their earnings, and teams giving back to support their top players. There will be infinitely many more great stories that come out of an economy that empowers every individual to earn.

As the value of breeding increased and more players entering the game, the Axie team actually had to increase breeding fees twice during Q2 2021, first going from 1 to 2 AXS on May 20th, then increasing from 2 to 4 AXS on July 1st. This has further siphoned AXS collected in the breeding process and driven even more accumulation of in-game assets in its ecosystem.

With breakeven times to operate teams becoming shorter and shorter, more and more investors poured into the market, from both existing Axie Infinity holders, to newcomers as well. Uniquely, Axie’s already invested userbase also started selling rare assets that they previously did not offer on the market at any price, allowing for again, more trading fees to be accrued in the marketplace. They instead sold these valuable, speculative assets such as land, mystic Axies, and in-game items for working capital to purchase the increased value of AXS, SLP, and Axies needed to start breeding more teams to meet the demand of players. It’s interesting that these long-time believers of Axie’s ecosystem, rather than selling their “jpegs” for lots of dollars and cashing out, actually decided to reinvest in the ecosystem, furthering the momentum already built up at the bottom of the game.

While many users have analyzed Axie Infinity’s “play-to-earn” economy, I see it as an incredibly empowering “trickle up economics” — boosts in rewards for the regular guy which attracted opportunities at scale for institutions. The adoption and user bases of motivated labor within the economy saw positive boosts to their income, driving more individuals to participate, and then providing a significant catalyst for deeply-entrenched market participants to further their positions within an ecosystem and begin building robust infrastructure for scaling a metaverse economy. It all starts from giving users a form of “Universal Basic Income” (UBI) — pretty much anyone with an internet connection and a connected device can participate in Axie Infinity — owners of Axies can share a QR code to players to provide “play-only” access to their accounts without sharing custody or private keys with players in a fairly seamless blockchain-powered but not blockchain-exposed experience. In blockchain and cryptocurrency, still a relatively nascent field, a game that brought hundreds of thousands of avid players and supporters alike, stands out as a very unique investment. With teams like FTX purchasing products with large user bases like Blockfolio for $150M , and many other user-facing products seeing hefty valuations such as Coinmarketcap’s $400M acquisition by Binance, it’s no secret that eyeballs are incredibly valuable in the blockchain space. That’s why many defi protocols such as MakerDAO, Aave, Kyber, and more have co-sponsored in-game prizes and rewards to players that finished atop the Axie leaderboards. These rewards, in addition to a rising AXS price, provided even more rewards and values for top players to get deeper into the game and spend more on higher powered Axie NFTs, akin to the increasing yields that came about asset-denominated rewards from defi summer yield farming.

In short, partnerships and investors provided injections of capital to a growing userbase

Meanwhile, more no-arbitrage conditions led to incredible value accrual in the market. If an Axie was cheaper on the marketplace than the average breeding cost implied by a higher SLP price, it would be very quickly “sniped” and subsequently bred, leading to more trading volume in the Axie marketplace. As more and more activity picked up, retail players and institutional teams started devoting more resources into clearing arbitrage conditions and breeding, leading to more fee accrual in the marketplace and more axie teams created. Today, over 2.5 million Axies have been bred, with over 1.5 million coming just in July alone! In the next phases, we will see the rise and fall of different breeds, traits, and characteristics, which will lead to small trends (such as floor Plant increasing, leading to floor Aqua increasing, etc. etc. in a minature game of Rock Paper Scissors which leads to even more in-game volume and differentiation amongst various NFT assets and investments in the game).

Why am I still so excited about Axie Infinity when its governance token sits in the top 50 in market cap rankings? Because the so-called institutionals that I mentioned are simply just people passionate about playing the game, about creating scalable infrastructure that balances meaningful earnings opportunities for hundreds of thousands of families playing around the world and investors backing their teams alike. In a utopian version of “Ready Player One”, perhaps the future IOI enterprises are actually owned by the players and fans themselves. I don’t see the arbitrage firms of the world like Jump entering Axie just yet to become VIP traders- I haven’t seen FTX purchase naming rights to teams like they did with TSM for $210 Million, I haven’t seen even crypto influencers and founders of projects, or even rappers change their profile pictures to Axie .jpegs. As with the best opportunities, you have to be just crazy enough to embrace things, and apply your understandings of the world to try to understand it. The most valuable resources in the world have yet to really try to understand some of the incredibly interesting economics that are happing in a 3v3 turn-based game.

Where’s the next Axie Alpha?

The answer of course depends on your risk tolerance, your illiquidity tolerance, and your interest in the metaverse. The most complex games create the biggest demand for power users and builders in those ecosystems. While there have been many opportunities on ERC20 tokens listed on major exchanges (please be careful when trading with leverage!), the real alpha remains to be in less liquid assets, if users have

Shards

For collection hunters, rare Axies like Mystic Axies and the Agamogenesis Axies, the 3 Axies that started them all, may be interesting investments. Further, some such as Candy (CANDY), Almace (ALMX), and more have been tokenized via platforms like NIFTEX. These allow individual investors to purchase small holdings in more expensive in-game items.

Land

With teams like Republic.co’s Realm beginning to deploy capital into on-chain metaverse lands — verifiably scarce, publicly accessible assets that may bring revenue sources from online players around the world, it seems like a big play in the next step of this trickle-up economy is trying to obtain more assets in digital lands. Maybe we’re too early. But also, why would you want to buy a physical storefront that only thousands of people can visit when you can buy digital land that millions can connect to and view each day? Another note is that Axie’s land was on Loom’s chain the whole time of Defi Summer, meaning that people who made money farming YFI and SUSHI could buy Cryptopunks off Larvalabs’ website and Opensea, but could not purchase land unless they paid gas fees to bridge into a layer-2 to use Axie’s official marketplace. It never saw the rapid tokenization, fractionalization, and integrations with other protocols and projects that Cryptovoxels, Somnium Space, Decentraland, and more have captured. While many other ERC20, BEP20, and Matic20 tokens have seen significant price appreciation over the last month, lands in particular and other individual NFTs are harder to purchase by nature, thus meaning that they have been less discovered by the average trader. Instead, these land assets remain more correlated in the long run to ETH, rather than the far faster pace of accumulation that AXS has seen. With Axie’s landplay coming out within the next few quarters, expect to see even more adoption from players and investors alike who see land as useful for capturing profits from games, collecting in-game powerups and items that boost the chances for users of winning and consequently the increased expected value of winning games in a play-to-earn economy. Think Hunger Games, but you own the land where everyone is hustling to pick up resources. That’s a surefire win in an attention economy.

Assets

While teams like the aforementioned Yield Guild Games and Hooga Gaming, as well as Mao DAO have already started stockpiling assets, there’s still a lot of value and metagames to be played within the Axie world. It’s also interesting to note that some of the first teams to adopt these strategies are primarily Asia-centric, having a younger, more tech-native average audience in an environment of lower average economic pay, so that only some teams have come to play in the Axie Ecosystem. With few institutions with massive treasuries to purchase assets, we have yet to set a widespread premium on “estates” — connected parcels of lands, even though the concept of premiums for connected lands in games like Monopoly are very obvious. Further, cornering certain classes of Axie characters that may become incredibly powerful in battles, or items that power up Axies in battle could be a very lucrative play as more pieces of the Axie game become unveiled.

AXS & Ronin

Axie also has yet to fully open up its Ronin chain, meaning that the power of Defi, fast swaps, lending integrations, and permissionless ideation has yes to be unleashed in one of the largest creative economies in the world. Finally, currently, 100 transactions are delegated free to every user on the chain currently each day — nodes are run in a centralized fashion currently — in future, if the chain is to decentralize, it will likely need AXS holders to stake into nodes to earn RON to pay for transactions. If this happens, AXS holders will have another reason to HODL, and another dimension of permissionless innovation can happen upon one of the most robust metaverses out there.

Without a doubt, a common strategy in the last few weeks has been to pile in to other blockchain-enabled games, and certainly it’s been very lucrative. However, it’s not so easy to replicate a userbase and carefully designed economics. It’s also important that investors and players in each camp do not start the same tribalism that occurred with Bitcoin maximalists and Ethereum maximalists as more products came about this space. Instead, hopefully, more teams hope to build upon some of the recipes that Axie has laid out, with new twists, and players around the world embrace the Metaverse vision, much like the direction Mark Zuckerburg is leading Facebook towards. Any such new projects building in the metaverses should certainly reach out to Impossible to apply for our NFT, Gaming, and Metaverse Launchpad track — feel free to message us anytime via email at contact@impossible.finance or ping us in our social communities such as Discord, Twitter, or Telegram.

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Guest Writer Disclosure: Calvin has holdings in many metaverses, such as, but not limited to, Axie Infinity, Illuvium, Aavegotchi, Cryptovoxels, CryptoPunks, CryptoPhunks, Artblocks, Binance Punks, Little Moon Rockets, & too many other projects that will be added here if he can remember after writing these 11 pages. Calvin is not planning to sell any NFT related assets for the next 30 days, unless it is to onboard a verifiably new player or institution that is interested in learning more about the economy. Some of Calvin’s friends and relationships in the metaverse came from selling assets at floor prices for assets such as CryptoPunks to welcome more participants in the ecosystem, and that he continues to be more than willing to do so to help educate more folks within the NFT, gaming, and metaverse ecosystem.

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A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store