Recently I’ve met several fintech investors on LinkedIn who have teams of scholars in Axie Infinity. I haven’t set up a team of scholars myself, though, because I wanted to do some research first. The amount of money that your scholars earn depends on how well their axies perform in the arena. After recent changes to the payout system, your scholars won’t earn any money if their rankings are too low. So it’s important to consider the axies you’ll purchase for your scholars before you set up a team of scholars.
The Basic Axie Infinity Business Model for Investors
Many fintech investors are interested in Axie Infinity because they plan to set up a team of scholars who will play the game and earn money for them. For example, suppose you recruited 50 scholars. If you invested $50,000 to buy $1,000 worth of axies for each of your scholars, these players might earn $300 a month each by playing the game. You would receive $15,000 in cryptocurrency in your account each month. If you agreed to a 50-50 split of winnings with the scholars, you’d send them $7,500 each month and keep the remaining $7,500. At least, that’s the theory.
Investing $50,000 to earn $90,000 in a year would be a 180 percent return on investment. So you might be wondering “what’s the catch?” That’s what I plan to talk about. If you want to earn money by setting up a team of Axie Infinity scholars, the scholars have to win their games in the arena. And they might not win enough matches to stay above the 800 threshold. A scholar with a score in the 400 range won’t earn anything and the investor might take back their axies and replace them with a better player.
The in-game cryptocurrency smooth love potions (SLP) is worth about $0.07 right now. The game was a lot more lucrative when the SLP price was around $0.20 in the summer. It’s unclear what the price of SLP will be in the future so I’m assuming it stays around $0.07 per SLP in this analysis. This article’s about selecting axies, not speculating on the SLP price. And staking AXS (Axie Shards, the other in-game cryptocurrency) is probably a better investment than buying SLP.
Investing More to Earn More
If you give your scholars axies with bad cards, or floor axies, it will be hard for them to stay above a score of 800, let alone compete in higher brackets where they’ll earn significant income from arena wins. So floor axies are not as valuable now. It might look like you can purchase inexpensive axies and give them to your scholars to get a higher ROI, but that may be a mistake. If you want your scholars to win in the arena and earn more money, you might have to spend more to buy them better axies, which could reduce your return on investment. Of course, you could also get a better RoI if your scholars begin winning more matches after you’ve bought them better axies.
Floor axies can still finish adventures in PvE. And a player can earn about 50 SLP ($3.50) per day by just doing PvE and ignoring the arena, so it is still possible to earn money from PvE alone. A player that finished the PvE challenges every day and ignored the arena would still earn about $100 per month. They could earn another 25 SLP by completing the daily quest and winning 5 arena matches but there’s a risk that their ELO will drop below 800 if they do that. From what I’ve seen on forums, though, managers often expect scholars to earn 150 SLP ($10.50) or more per day and it’s not common for players to just play PvE matches.
It’s also possible that the PvE rewards will be reduced further and possibly eliminated in the future. This is a PvP game and the challenge and the fun come from beating other axie teams in the arena. You can beat the PvE battles by grinding to increase your axies’ levels so they have an advantage over their computer-controlled opponents. That’s standard gameplay for a RPG but winning the PvE battles that way doesn’t require much skill.
Game Design and the Pay-to-Win Argument
Some people have criticized Axie Infinity by calling it a pay-to-win game, but compared to many of the other gaming apps I’ve seen it’s not that bad in this area. You can’t buy in-game items that make your character invincible or items that instantly destroy your opponent’s monsters. Some axies do start out with better cards than others but if a card is clearly unbalanced, the game developers will nerf it. A large number of cards just had their attack and defense values adjusted recently because of balance issues, and aqua axies were especially penalized during this adjustment.
Floor axies are often axies that are missing important cards for their role. For example, a plant axie needs healing and shield cards to be a good tank. If it doesn’t have those it might be listed in the marketplace at a low price. And a beast axie needs cards that will allow it to set up combos to get critical hits and generate energy for the other axies on its team. So you don’t need to buy the best possible axies for your scholars but you do need ones with the cards they need to do their jobs. Most of the really expensive axies are status symbols with rare parts. Their prices aren’t based on their battle prowess.
Axies will also sell for a premium if they have higher stats than other axies. I’d say the most important stat is speed because it determines the order of attack. Axies can often kill another axie if they play 4 attack cards so it’s important to move first if you want to beat the opponent. So it’s often worthwhile to invest in faster axies. Having more health or more morale makes a smaller difference so it’s less important to pay a premium for that unless you need to have the very best axies.
The Scholarship Concept
Scholarships aren’t just about loaning out axies to scholars in developing countries who can’t afford to buy them themselves. The team manager’s also a coach who teaches their scholars how to play Axie Infinity. If you’re a manager, you’re expected to communicate with your scholars and give them advice about how to win arena matches. Many scholars are new to Axie Infinity and want to learn about the game before investing $1,000 or more to get started. If a team’s losing, it might be because the coach hasn’t taught the players effective strategies.
Because of the rock-paper-scissors design of this game, there are effective strategies for defeating any team of axies. But you don’t know what axies you’re facing ahead of time so sometimes you’ll have an unavoidable disadvantage against certain teams because their axies are highly effective against yours. And because of the randomness involved with drawing cards, a skilled player with a meta axie team could still lose an arena battle if they get bad card draws. It’s even possible for a skilled player to rank near the top of Axie Infinity players with a team of low-cost axies and this is especially true if they know how to find bargains in the marketplace.
I currently have a low rank in Axie Infinity but I think it’s because I’m relatively new to the game. I’m using floor axies but I don’t think they’re that bad. And I’ve seen other teams at low ranks that have high-quality axies with good cards. They’re still beatable because the scholars who are controlling those axies don’t know how to use them and they often make mistakes that waste their cards and energy. There are even Axie Infinity coaches who offer paid courses now, although in my opinion a manager should be providing free training to their scholars.
Buying the lowest-cost axies for scholars isn’t worth it because they’re often missing important cards that they need to perform their role on a team. Without those cards, these axies won’t be competitive in PvP, although a scholar could still use them to earn a lower amount of income in PvE challenges. And if the scholar uses them in PvP anyway there’s a possibility that their ELO could drop so low that they won’t earn any money.
This most likely means that you’ll be paying $250-$350 per axie, or more, to buy axies for your scholars. And to get a return on investment your scholars will have to win arena matches with these axies. Recently, I’ve been seeing forum posts saying that managers are placing more emphasis on experience when they select scholars. While more expensive axies are better than the cheaper ones, this is still more of a skill-based game than a pay-to-win game.