It’s like any other game: you gather a team of cute little monsters, compete with others, and if you win, you get points to create new and stronger creatures. only you enter axie infinity there are no points, but cryptocurrencies that are worth real money. And your investment for your first samples? That can easily be hundreds of euros.
It has been gold for years. axie infinity as the leading player in the crypto gaming world. Last year, manufacturers achieved a turnover of 1.2 billion euros. The promise: every player can earn a salary by playing games on a daily basis.
It seemed so. After months of financial problems, axie infinity hit by a major hack at the end of March: the perpetrators made off with around $600 million (552 million euros) in cryptocurrencies. All neatly paid off via a ‘blockchain’, the digitized ledger that forms the basis of crypto and NFT technology. Because experts can simply follow income and expenses through the blockchain if they know where the money is, the perpetrators can’t do much with it now.
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It was a deck the game just couldn’t use. Therefore, creator Sky Mavis quickly enlisted cryptocurrency investors like Binance to cover the missing money as much as possible.
To grow quickly, “we made decisions that made us vulnerable to attack,” Vietnam’s Sky Mavis sighed in a blog post. Hackers managed to get special rights to use a digital bridge that makes it possible to exchange Axie cryptocurrencies for the widely used cryptocurrency Ethereum. For several days they managed to funnel money into their own wallet.
Soon after, a much smaller game bridge. miracle hero hacked The authors stole about 300,000 dollars (276,000 euros). WonderHero’s coin price crashed.
In both cases, the hackers presumably gained access to critical infrastructure by tricking employees with a fake website or email, known as a phishing attack.
Decentralized internet dream
Humans thus appear as the great weakness of ‘Web3’, the vaguely defined dream of a decentralized internet based on blockchain technology. Web3 captures the economic value of all kinds of goods in a complex network of different ‘tokens’. On the one hand you have regular tokens, a kind of payment currency, like Bitcoin. On the other hand, you have ‘non-fungible’ tokens (NFTs), which are more like a kind of digital receipt, for example to prove that you have paid for an Axie monster. Everyone has their own part of the Internet and can act freely: together we become a huge network of people online. Central powers like banks, social networks and even governments are left behind. That is the ideal of the decentralized Internet.
For now though, Web3 is still the Wild West. On forums and YouTube videos, crypto experts try to warn each other about rogue projects designed to make a quick buck at the expense of unsuspecting investors. The Axie hack underscores that customers of well-intentioned NFT game companies are also at risk.
Even without the hack is a crisis ahead axie infinity† In order to maintain the value of purchased monsters, there must be enough players who need new monsters. But since the beginning of this year, the game has stopped growing. The price of Axie-pegged cryptocurrencies plummeted: in July last year you were still getting thirty cents on the dollar for one of Axie’s coins, now you’re penny rich with an ‘SLP’.
A collapsing bubble, or is it part of it? On YouTube, enthusiastic pundits shrug: crypto games are an investment market. If the deposit price goes down enough, new players will come, they reason.
Also read this column: Fighting with Web3
For a time, the entanglement between gaming and NFTs also seemed to pervade the gaming industry in general. Major game companies hinted last year that they were interested in the blockchain. But an open group of gamers see no point in NFTs – another way gaming giants are trying to get money out of their pockets, and now through risky speculation too, it seems. The angry reactions led to the premature end of ‘Metaworms’, an NFT series based on the popular Worms games. An introductory video about NFT in the game Ghost Recon Breakpoint became invisible after outraged reactions from fans. The thousands of NFTs that manufacturer Ubisoft eventually made available for free were only traded 96 times. Now Ubisoft will stop supporting the underlying game. Gun and helmet NFTs are pretty much useless.
Annoying for the owners? Well, they should be proud, the company reassured on its website. “You have left your mark on the history of this game.”