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Playing Axie Infinity vs Minimum Basic Salary in the Philippines

A recent article suggests we can earn top money with Axie Infinity. I checked and yes, we can. Just a little perseverance, effort, and basic understanding of blockchain games.

An article on Coindesk mentioned how Mr. Ijon Inton earns Php 10,000 per week playing Axie Infinity, the hit blockchain game. Is it possible? If yes, how does this money fares with the current minimum basic salary of the average Filipino? I researched some information from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and realized that yes, there is serious money to be earned but it will take some perseverance. Just like anything worth undertaking – playing Axie Infinity and earning money from it still requires some effort from the player.

Update: May 2021: Check out our new articles:

PLAY-TO-EARN | NFT Gaming in the Philippines | Subtitles

Nevertheless, if there is one thing I would like you to get from this article, it’s this — it is better to play Axie Infinity than doing those ridiculous “typing captcha jobs!”

I knew about Axie Infinity after GameFest 2018, which I attended on behalf of BitPinas at SM Mall of Asia. Organized by Altitude Games’ Gabby Dizon, the event showcased blockchain game development and featured some of the biggest games and personalities in blockchain gaming. Anyone in the gaming scene would have been ecstatic being on the same venue as Maarten Noyons, the founder of the International Gaming Awards, as well as Mr. Dizon himself and his team at Altitude Games, who developed some of the games that put the Philippines in the gaming industry map.

One of the speakers at GameFest is Jeff Zirlin, who is now Growth Lead at Axie Infinity. I was just a few seats behind him and I noticed him playing Axie Infinity while waiting for his time to speak. He talked about the importance of community engagement in this nascent industry.

My Introduction to Axie Infinity

I thought Axies are cute. Take it from me, who chooses his Pokemon based on how they look (sorry, Muk). I initially planned to play Axie Infinity casually. But lo and behold, I found out soon enough that it was more complicated than what meets the eye.

It’s definitely Pokemon on the blockchain.

You can play casually and enjoy the sight of Axies fighting each other. Alternatively, you can carefully choose the Axies you buy and breed in the same way you persevere to EV and IV train your Pokemon to play competitively.

I never went beyond playing casually to organizing a battle-ready Axie team. (Actually, I lost my Metamask password, so I purchased new Axies in 2019.) I was turned off that I need to pay gas fees every time I want to play. That I need to wait a few hours before my Axies can fight again. It was frustrating. Metamask sucked. I left my Axies, thinking I would never play them again.

It’s 2020 – Checking Out My Axies Again

A year has passed, and I found out Axie Infinity now has a mobile version, something Mr. Zirlin was teasing on Twitter for some time, and an important milestone that he talked about at Gamefest. This “Community Alpha” can be downloaded on the Axie Infinity website. Of course, you first need three Axies to play. So here are the steps:

  1. Add Ether on Metamask
  2. Go to Axie Marketplace
  3. Buy some Axies

After buying the Axies, download the Community Alpha, bind it with your email and Metamask address, and then install it on your mobile phone. The email address will bind the account so that you don’t need to interact with Metamask on your phone. The process is now more seamless through the use of QR code. I do not need to use a dapp browser on mobile to play Axie Infinity. I can install the game as a standalone app. Good times.

Upon playing the game on my mobile phone, I realized Axie Infinity is now different from how I remembered it. What were once ‘moves’ that Axies automatically use in battle are now cards you can deploy. In the past, everything was purely auto-play, dictated by the moves, the Axies’ speed, their stats, and their field position. Now, you can control something – the moves – your Axies do in battle.

Play To Earn

Axie Infinity always had a play-to-earn element in its system. (By the way, play-to-earn was also discussed at GameFest) Depending on the Axies you bought or breed, you can have one that can fare well in competitive play. There are also Rare Axies, such as those Axies with mystic parts, as well as Origin Axies — those that are sold during  the pre-sale. These are valuable to collectors who would pay top ETH, such as for this one currently being sold 272 ETH. When fractional ownership also became a thing, one of Mr. Dizon’s rare Axie was valued at 40 ETH.

You can say that the value of Axie just depends on people’s perception — on what one person thinks its value should be. But that has always been the case for games — and even art — for a long time now. If Nintendo can sell its old Super Mario games ported to the Switch at $60, then it is all right if the players themselves — collectively in the market — will decide what the price of an Axie should be.

It was very good. I’m playing in between writing this article. I counted it as “research” in my timesheet.

Play To Earn For a Living

It never crossed my mind that this value, which is dictated by the market, could actually help people earn a living around the world, especially here in the Philippines. Take for example Ijon Inton, an Axie Infinity player in Cabanatuan City. According to this article by Ms. Leah Calon Butler on Coindesk, Mr. Inton just stumbled into Axie Infinity after watching a YouTube video discussing its play-to-earn elements early this year. Intrigued, he tried playing the game and is now earning close to around Php 10,000 per week.

Coindesk Article Response

When my Twitter app notified me of the article, it was already viral on this side of the world. It also reminded me of another tweet from Mr. Zirlin, when an Axie player named Nichola told him that playing the game allowed her to pay for her tuition fees.

The kicker is that when Nichola was mocked by his friends for playing the ‘cute game,’ she retorted back — “Your two week’s income, I earned it in 2 days,” she told her bewildered friends. That’s impossible, they might have thought.

The article went viral because not everyone expects anyone to earn a living exclusively playing a game. Most of the time, people earn from games when they developed it, when they sell it at 2nd hand value, when they used another platform like Youtube or Facebook Live to stream the game, when they stream themselves playing it, or when they developed content around it. Esports players earn money from playing games competitively.

Mr. Inton’s story is different because he earns SLP, which can be converted to ETH and withdrawn in Pesos (Php), exclusively by playing it. And while Php 10,000 per week (roughly $200) is nothing in the developed world or even to the average crypto investor. In the Philippines and to the everyday Filipino, that money is everything. Php 10,000 a week or Php 40,000 a month is nothing to scoff at. It’s top dough even in Manila, the Philippine capital.

Let me just quote what I think is the most important part of that article:

“To a crypto investor, gaining $300 or $400 a month might not mean that much, but for these people it means the world,” said Gabby Dizon, the Filipino co-founder of mobile app development company Altitude Games. “It’s food on the table, it’s money for their families and it’s saving them when they cannot even leave the house during this pandemic.”

Crypto Community Reactions

The Filipino crypto community and the blockchain gaming community celebrated the story.

Altitude Game’s Gabby Dizon has been in the forefront of blockchain gaming in the Philippines and has helped many Filipinos get on-boarded to blockchain games like Battle Racers (his company’s) and Axie Infinity. In the Axie Infinity Discord’s Filipino channel, I saw him one time, at around 2:30 am, alerting everyone of the reduced transaction fees. (We’ll get into “gas” fees later in this article.)

In the Coindesk article, Jeff Zirlin, the Growth Lead at Axie Infinity, was first alerted of Inton and his family playing the game after he found multiple accounts playing Axie Infinity in just one IP address. In other games where rules are not flexible, this could result in an immediate and permanent ban. Mr. Zirlin, after finding out the reason, did not.

Colin Goltra’s previous stint as head of cryptocurrency at mobile wallet Coins.ph was marked by significant milestones, including 5 million users (which represents 5 million potential crypto investors in the country). During his time at Coins.ph, the wallet began supporting more cryptocurrencies like Ether and XRP, as well as launched Coins Pro, a cryptocurrency order-book exchange.

The writer of the article, Leah Callon-Butler, has been writing Philippine-focused stories in Coindesk. One mission of her company, Emfarsis, is to tell these stories that do not often get awareness in mainstream crypto publications, let alone in the national media. In my opinion, stories like this should also start appearing on our national papers, to present the good side of cryptocurrency and to drive interest in blockchain games.

Mr. Inton’s Earnings

While others in the crypto space are busy yield farming, Mr. Inton plays Axie Infinity and farms Small Love Potions or SLP. SLP is a requirement to breed and produce new Axies. When I began writing this article, 1 SLP is Php 4. I logged into Axie Infinity, played for a few minutes, and now I have 22 SLP. I think a person can earn at least 50 to 100 SLP in a day on average or casual playtime.

It so happens that Mr. Inton plays Axie Infinity day in and day out. The Coindesk article said he and his wife play a total of close to 20 hours a day, switching from time to time, to collectively earn 1,500 SLP per day. At Php 4 per 1 SLP, that’s a solid Php 6,000, all in a day’s play.

Of course, the value of SLP changes every second, so let’s use the Coindesk article’s original premise of Php 2 per SLP. Farming 1,500 SLP would yield:

  • Php 3,000 per day
  • Php 15,000 per week (5 days)
  • Php 60,000 per month.

Mr. Inton said he’s averaging Php 10,000 per week. So that’s:

  • Php 2,000 per day
  • Php 10,000 per week
  • Php 40,000 per month

Those are the figures if SLP stays at Php 2 for the entire month. The reality is that at its lowest, 1 SLP is 15 centavos and at its peak, 1 SLP is Php 11.

Luck and fate could also be on Mr. Inton’s side. Just as how Bitcoin went from $4,000 in March to $12,000 this September, SLP went from 15 centavos to Php 11. SLP is driven by speculation and is a requirement for breeding Axies. SLP would always be used because anyone wanting to breed Axies need them. Serious breeders could produce Axies with better “body parts,” inherited from the parent Axies, and this would dictate what moves the offspring Axie would have.

So there’s demand for SLP, the token being farmed by Mr. Inton. And for farming 20 hours a day, he gets compensation of around Php 10,000 per week.

That’s top money, and If you don’t believe me, let’s look at some stats below:

Playing Axie Infinity vs Minimum Average Salary Per Region

(Note that this does not count the initial investment for having 3 Axies, just as it did not count the taxes, the cost of equipment, transportation, etc. It’s just the earnings.)

The minimum salary per day in Manila is Php 500. In Laguna, it’s Php 303 to 400. In Cabanatuan, where Mr. Inton resides, that’s php 304 to 420.

Taking the minimum salary per day per region and compare it with playing Axie Infinity daily:

Photo for the Article - Playing Axie Infinity vs Minimum Basic Salary in the Philippines
Data is from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)

The data is pretty straightforward and you might want to download Axie Infinity now.

We are just looking at the chart above with data that is  constant. We assume minimum salary stays as is and we should assume that the job is stable. We can never assume that SLP will always be at Php 2.

(I could argue that while minimum salary stays the same, jobs do not. The recent COVID situation resulted in millions of Filipinos losing their jobs, and therefore, their earnings as well.)

Still, the charts above confirms one thing: there’s money to be earned in playing a blockchain game, especially Axie Infinity.

SLP can be earned by simply playing the game. And that’s it.

Playing Axie Infinity vs Playing Other Mobile Games

So what better way to spend your time on your mobile phone than to play Axie Infinity? Sure, you can watch on Netflix, you can play other mobiles, or maybe  you could take your Axies to the arena and earn SLP?

Let’s check how much on average can a person earn from playing other free-to-play mobile games.

Photo for the Article - Playing Axie Infinity vs Minimum Basic Salary in the Philippines

It’s pretty straightforward and I don’t need to explain this. In fact, I don’t even know why I need to present the chart above than to get the point across that putting your Axies in battle can give you cash.

You would say, hey, I play mobile games to enjoy and pass time, not to earn money! This is the opinion of many people who, unfortunately, still think blockchain games are just another version of gambling because of its earnings element. Still, as Mr. Gabby Dizon once said in a blockchain gaming meetup, we can enjoy playing games while at the same time earning money! 

Playing Axie Infinity vs Solving Captchas

Pero sige, let’s compare earnings potential in Axie Infinity vs. the most popular “typing job” available and regularly offered online – solving captchas! Assuming we type captcha for 20 freaking hours straight just as Mr. Inton and his family play Axie Infinity for the same number of hours:

Photo for the Article - Playing Axie Infinity vs Minimum Basic Salary in the Philippines

(At this point, let me remind you that solving captchas is unethical.) Data from this Reddit discussion.

How About Playing Axie As I would A Part-Time Job?

Of course, not everyone can play 20  hours per day like the way Mr. Inton and his family do. Let’s say you play just a solid 4 hours of Axie Infinity with the sole mission of farming SLP. Your immediate goal is just to earn extra cash on hand. We use 4 hours because that’s the normal work hours for a part-time job.

If your earnings potential is Php 2,000 for 20 hours of playing, that’s Php 400 for 4 hours, or extra Php 400 per day.

Photo for the Article - Playing Axie Infinity vs Minimum Basic Salary in the Philippines

Here’s when you play a mobile game for 4 hours vs playing Axie Infinity on the same time frame:

Photo for the Article - Playing Axie Infinity vs Minimum Basic Salary in the Philippines

Assuming you will play 4 hours for 20 days, here’s your potential earnings vs minimum potential earnings if you only work for 4 hours at a regular job with minimum daily pay:

Photo for the Article - Playing Axie Infinity vs Minimum Basic Salary in the Philippines

This sounds like a solid plan of using our ample time.

The question remains: is it really that easy? Let’s check out some counterpoints to the incentives mentioned above:


What if everyone starts playing the game?

Of course not everyone will be able to play Axie Infinity like the way Mr. Inton does. But clearly, the opportunity exists. It is just that not everyone knows of it yet.

Another counterpoint is that when everyone in the world is playing Axie Infinity, then maybe the value of SLP could drop because there would be more supply vs. the number of people who want to breed and produce Axies.

Maybe we can start worrying about decreasing SLP value once the game is readily available everywhere via the App Store and Google Play Store. But there’s an answer to the problem of future SLP value. I interviewed Mr. Zirlin (can be read at the latter part of this article) and it seems Axie Infinity has something in store already for this eventual problem.

I heard you need good Axies?

Upon playing Axie Infinity for some days now, I realized I need good Axies to win, progress, and ultimately have fun (This is a game after all).

Photo for the Article - Playing Axie Infinity vs Minimum Basic Salary in the Philippines

I have forgotten how much I paid for my Axies but I knew that when I was buying them, I only considered an Axie that has one defensive move and another Axie that can heal the Axie in front. In a blog post, Mr. Zirlin suggests one tank Axie with 2 defensive moves and 2 attackers should be a good enough team, so we check out his own Axie marketplace, which I believe contains good Axies to start playing the game.

At 0.09 ETH per Axie, we’re looking at 0.27 ETH for 3 Axies, or Php 6,034 as total initial investment for playing the game.

If that deters you from playing the game, you can also jump to Axie Infinity’s Discord and there would surely be people there who would give you free Axies.

What about Gas fees?

Finally, syncing SLP back to the Axie Infinity website would require gas fees. Currently gas fee prices are ridiculous, you should be syncing a lot of SLP to justify those fees. Finally, there is also a fee when converting SLP back to ETH. At its current state, there’s absolutely no way to escape these transaction fees. Many, like me, hated it. Yet others think these fees keep the network secure and legitimize the Ethereum blockchain as important and valuable. But that’s a story for another time.

Which leads to one final hurdle — at least a minimal understanding of cryptocurrencies, blockchains, wallets, transaction fees, etc.

An Interview with Ijon Inton Himself:

Photo for the Article - Playing Axie Infinity vs Minimum Basic Salary in the Philippines

With all those questions, I asked Ijon Inton on how to play Axie Infinity if the goal is to earn and farm SLP.

What should we do with transaction fees?

Ijon: Do not sync SLP if you only have a few of them. Next, do not swap SLP when the transaction fee (called gwei) is high.

Do we need need to know blockchain and crypto?

Ijon: Understanding blockchain and cryptocurrencies, including how they work, is still needed. These include how to check transaction fees and how much is the current  SLP-ETH trading pair. I actually taught my family and everyone here in our community playing the game on how to trade using Uniswap. At the end of the day, it is not complicated, but still everyone must have a ready budget for the gas price.

How Much is Your Initial Investment?

Ijon: I bought 3 Axies for Php 500.

Do You Recommend Buying the Lowest Priced Axies?

Ijon: The player should have a basic understanding of Axie Infinity by checking out https://axieworld.com where you can check card effects, etc. This is because there are Axies in the market that are low priced but could prove very strong in battles. The right combination of Axies should also be observed.

So yes, it is not necessary to buy a high-priced Axie.

How important are the basics and the current meta?

Ijon: They are important but the player would gradually learn about them as they continue playing the game.

Supply & Demand of SLP – Interview with Jeff Zirlin

Finally, the last important question is the future value of SLP. SLP is required to produce Axies and it can be earned simply by playing the game. Mr. Zirlin noted that there was no pre-mine for SLP, allowing players to have full control of the SLP economy. We’ve seen SLP go up to Php 11 at some point. By law of supply and demand however, if more players enter the game to farm SLP while demand for SLP from breeders decreased, the value of SLP could collapse.

“The number of people it can scale to is limited by speculative demand for SLP + demand for SLP from breeders,” Mr. Zirlin told me on Twitter. One solution, he said, is the eventual launch of a governance token sometime before 2021.

On Twitter, Mr. Zirlin said this governance token would be backed by network fees in the future that people can play to earn for. Scaling this would be much harder but it will create a healthier token economy for Axie Infinity.

There’s not a lot of information right now about this upcoming feature in Axie Infinity. By the way, governance tokens are a hit right now, just take a look at this one token called YFI.

But until then, we can all farm some SLP.

Final Word

If there’s one thing to get out of this story, it is that there’s value in blockchain for everyone. That cryptocurrency is not just scams. As the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said, cryptocurrency is neither good or bad. And Mr. Inton’s story proved it can help people, especially during these troubled times.

I asked Ms. Callon-Butler on what she thinks made this story interesting, and it’s probably the original reason why she wrote the Coindesk article in the first place.

“I think a lot of people still believe that blockchain is technology without a use case and crypto is good for little more than speculation and dark market transactions. Ijon’s story demonstrates that a rather complex blockchain game has achieved impressive user adoption with an unlikely group of people in the rural Philippines, empowering them to be their own boss and earn for themselves, changing their lives for the better.”

I do think what Mr. Inton is doing could not be possibly done by everyone, but everyone can also do it and achieve what he did. There is the opportunity. I asked Ms. Callon-Butler for a final word and what she and her company is  doing to make sure stories like this continue to surface for awareness purposes.

“It’s important to shine a light on real world use cases to show how emerging technologies are being embraced by people all over the world. Emfarsis is committed to telling those stories and to inspire innovators to think about leveraging technology to deliver positive impact. Many of these inspiring stories come from emerging economies, that are not always visible to the developed world. We want to encourage more people to join the conversation and be part of the solution to some of the world’s most awful, stubborn, systemic issues.”

This article is published on BitPinas: Playing Axie Infinity vs Minimum Basic Salary in the Philippines

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