Fresh out of the studio, Aleksander Larsen, co-founder and chief operating officer of Sky Mavis, the studio behind the first successful blockchain game, Axie Infinity, joined us to discuss the origin story of the company and how it jumpstarted the NFT and play to earn games to life. Aleksander shared the early days of Axie Infinity and explained why they ended up building the Ronin side chain to launching the decentralized exchange, Katana. Last but not least, Aleksander offered his thoughts on how Axie Infinity will contribute to the metaverse conversation in the years ahead.
"And right now the internet is the metaverse to an extent. The only difference here is that it's not truly decentralized and you didn't have ownership on the internet before now you have ownership through the blockchain. So that means that the internet is now becoming more metaverse like, because people can own their own assets. They can interact with the blockchain through their web explorer for the front ends to where the metaverse are right now." - Aleksander Larsen
Here are the links and show notes for this episode:
- Aleksander Larsen, co-founder of Sky Mavis, the company behind the leading crypto game, Axie Infinity (@Psycheout86, Linkedin).
- As it is our tradition for first time guests to tell their origin story, how did you start your career that eventually led you to just before Sky Mavis?
- What are the key lessons from your career journey that you can share with my audience?
Axie Infinity and the Play to Earn Metaverse
- Axie Infinity is a trading and battling game launched in 2018 created by Sky Mavis, a gaming studio from Vietnam in Southeast Asia. One key innovation is based on the concept of a blockchain-based play to earn model, which could create more aligned incentives between game creators and game players for the long-term. The company has recently raised US$152 million at a nearly $3 billion valuation led by the famous Silicon Valley venture capital firm: Andreessen Horowitz (Reference: Venture Beat).
- To start, what is the inspiration behind Axie Infinity and how did you and your other co-founders come together and build it into its present form?
- Before the Axie Infinity team reached rocket-like growth, what are the early days like and what are the key things the team have done to hit the tipping point?
- Can you share the concept of what play to earn means, and how it means money flows through the Axie Infinity ecosystem?
- How does this play to earn model enable financial inclusion? Can you talk about how AXS helped gamers in the Philippines during the COVID-19 pandemic?
- Can you describe at a high level on the game mechanics of Axie Infinity for anyone out there who wants to get into playing the game?
- Can you explain why there are the two tokens: Axie Infinity token (AXS) and Smooth Love Potion aka SLP and their functions that power the entire ecosystem?
- How do non-fungible tokens aka NFTs enter into Axie Infinity?
- Specifically, AXS leverages the Ronin blockchain which you have to build from scratch. Can you talk about the rationale behind why your team decided to build your own chain instead of relying on the ethereum chain?
- How do other partners, for example, Yield Guild Games (YGG) build on top of your system?
- Recently, you launched Katana, a decentralized exchange or DEX where players can gain liquidity easily or trade on the Ronin side chain. Why not leverage on the existing DEXes out there instead of building one?
- In your perspective, how do you see the concept of metaverse from the perspective of Axie Infinity?
- One common fear in most games is that early adopters or players gain an advantage in power level before everyone comes into it. This creates a power level instability which we often talk about even in games I used to play for example, Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, Magic: the Gathering and World of Warcraft. I do recall that Magic: the Gathering figured out how to deal with this type of instability. Do you think that this type of instability will become an issue for Axie Infinity in the future?
- What does great look like for Axie Infinity in the next three years?
- Any recommendations that have inspired you recently? (For example, a book, podcast, game or movie)?
- Aleksander's recommendations: Age of Empires IV and Dune by Frank Herbert
- How do my audience find you?