Axie Infinity creator Sky Mavis launches new mobile app that doesn’t require the purchase of NFTs

Axie Infinity rose to fame as an NFT-enabled game that attracted millions of users at its peak, but in a mobile version released Wednesday, players don’t have to buy NFTs.

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According to Decrypt, the Axie Infinity: Origins mobile app is a card-based game where players receive non-NFT starter characters instead of having to purchase NFTs to play the original desktop version.

The need to own Axies, furry NFT creatures, to play the game led to an in-game economy that for a time attracted millions of players worldwide. Players from mainly developing countries like the Philippines rented NFTs from other players – mostly living in Western countries – to gamble and earn crypto, and the NFT owners received a share of the loot.

At the height of the game, some players — depending on the country — could be making as much or more than if they had a minimum-wage job, Fortune previously reported.

But over the past year, Axie Infinity’s popularity has plummeted. As crypto prices have fallen, so has the price of Axie’s in-game cryptocurrency, Smooth Love Potion (SLP), down 99% from its May 2021 peak.

The uproar has caused the company behind the Web3 game, Sky Mavis, to reconsider its moves. After the company’s co-founder, Aleksander Leonard Larsen, said at a conference in February that the company needed to do so, after initially moving from a term that had helped popularize it, “play-to-earn” in favor of the softer “play-to-earn” and-Earn” was doubled.

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“We need more tokens, we need more crazy experiments,” Larsen said at the time.

The new mobile app is definitely an experiment in expanding the player base. It’s also a test case for Apple, which has not been open-minded about NFTs in the past but recently approved Mythical Games’ blockchain-based NFL game NFL Rivals. Axie Infinity: Origins launches in Latin America and Asia on Apple’s App Store.

The story goes on

NFT Axies owners can use theirs in the app, Larsen told Decrypt, because the game is built on Sky Mavis’ Ethereum-based Ronin sidechain.

Axie Infinity’s native cryptocurrency AXS surged as much as 15% in Wednesday’s news. On Wednesday afternoon, it was up 6.5% to $7.23. According to CoinMarketCap, in-game cryptocurrency SLP is also up about 3%.

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