Thoughts on Competitive Axie Gaming and Pi Network Hype
It’s now Day 5 in my journey as a fledgling Axie Infinity player. I’ve dedicated all my spare time to learning as quickly as possible, and I now have about 200 duels under my belt. My MMR is slightly above 1400 and my overall win-rate is 53%. Although I’m far from an expert, I think I’m starting to feel the grind, as it were.
I have some tournament experience with Magic: The Gathering and Hearthstone, so a lot of my initial impressions on Axie Infinity was shaped by those older games. What’s the biggest difference between these collectible card games, and other competitive games like Valorant or Fortnite or CS:GO? Here’s the simplest way I can explain it. When you lose a round in Counterstrike, you may blame the slow reload time on your AWP sniper rifle, but you can’t pay someone with real-world pesos to upgrade it. The delicate game balance of the FPS universe doesn’t allow its players to “pay to win” at the tournament-level.
There’s a frequent joke in the collectible card game world that is relevant here: What is the strongest card in the game? It’s called “Your Credit Card.” M:TG and Hearthstone make so much money because players spend inordinate amounts of cash buying randomized card packs until they can finally build the deck that will allow them to win. (Or so they think.) Axie Infinity has this too, and every time I lost a duel against a multi-aqua team these past few days I thought about visiting the marketplace. Of course, the limiting factor here is that axies are very expensive. So players like me, who may be feeling inadequate about their win-rate, can’t just go shopping at the end of a long losing streak. We have to suck it up and try to become better at the game instead.
Has it been profitable? It seems like it. Once you break past the 1300 level, a player receives 9 SLP per win, which is currently equivalent to 77 pesos. So far I’ve made over 5,000 pesos, as you can see in this screenshot from my BloomX account. That’s half of the monthly minimum wage in this country, after 4 days of sub-optimal gameplay.
(* In case you’re wondering, I didn’t actually claim my SLP from the game. A month ago I bought some SLP that I could use as a “trading buffer,” and stored it in my BloomX wallet. At the end of every Axie session, I look at how much SLP I’ve earned and immediately sell that much from my buffer. When I can finally claim my SLP from the game in two weeks time, I’ll use it to replenish whatever I had sold during that period. I’m doing it this way so I can capture the real-time exchange rate of SLP. The alternative is to wait two weeks and hope it’ll be at a good price when I claim my earnings, but this felt much safer.)
Can someone explain to me why Pi Network is suddenly so popular here in the Philippines? Their founder announced that they have 23 million users as of Aug 13th, but what does that mean exactly? You become a member of the Pi Network by downloading the Pi app and then basically you just sit there and watch your Pi balance go up slowly every few seconds. There’s also a chatroom, where inevitably most of the conversations are now in Tagalog instead of English.
I installed it this morning so you don’t have to. If you’re wondering what the point is: the founders are trying to get as many people as possible on board while they build out the mainnet of their blockchain. Once that’s ready, whatever balance each user has in the app will be airdropped to their real blockchain wallet. Everyone using the app is hoping that this project will eventually launch, and that Pi will have a real-world value at some point in the future. They are currently promising a mainnet launch in December 2021, although withdrawals will not be possible until 2022. Importantly, the project is not open-source, even though they built it on top of Stellar, making it impossible to evaluate any of their technological claims.
Is Pi Network a scam? Here’s that old saying that I like to repeat a lot when talking about fledgling crypto projects. “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by incompetence.” In other words, they don’t have to be scammers in order for their crypto project to fail, they could just be bad at their jobs. Part of the reason why I think that is because they’ve created an opaque situation where it’s (a) impossible to evaluate their code and (b) it’s impossible to evaluate the amount of allocated Pi.
But let’s do the math anyway. Let’s assume that those 23,000,000 Pi users all have 1,000 Pi each by 2022, and let’s assume that the founders intend to keep only 10% of the total supply to themselves. (Both of those estimates are extremely conservative btw.) That means that when they launch, you’ll see about 25 billion Pi enter the market for the first time. It seems far-fetched to assume that Pi would trade for $1.00, so let’s say it’ll be worth $0.10. At a $2.5 billion marketcap, it would be bigger than $DASH, $SUSHI, and $YFI. These are major projects with substantial developer support that have been generating real value for their users for quite some time. If that sounds like a believable scenario to you, then by all means, install the app now. Just bear in mind that even with this optimistic forecast, all you’ll have after waiting for a year is $100, which is coincidentally what I made playing Axie Infinity for four days.
Keep safe out there, cryptofam!