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The developers of play-to-earn crypto game Axie Infinity have released a version of their newest game to Apple’s App Store which doesn’t require users to buy NFTs.
Axie Infinity: Origins is a card game that will initially give players free non-NFT “starter characters.” It represents a shift away from the original Axie Infinity game, which users had to either buy or rent NFTs to play.
“We have been in touch with Apple for about two years now,” Axie Infinity co-founder and COO Aleksander Leonard Larsen told Decrypt. “After a lot of trial and error, the current version is a lite version of Axie Origins with more to follow.”
Origins, which was previously available in limited regions through the Google Play store and owner Sky Mavis’s own Mavis Hub, is now rolling out to key markets in Latin America and Asia on the App Store.
It will be available for Apple mobile users in countries including Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Venezuela, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam.
He said that this free-to-play version begins with non-NFT Axies, the cute digital characters in the game.
“Starter Axies will remain as non-NFTs,” Larsen said. “But eventually as people buy other Axies in app we will want [to] turn them into NFTs.” He added that NFT holders will also be able to move their Axies into the app.
The game operates on Sky Mavis’s proprietary Ethereum-based Ronin sidechain, so owners of NFT Axies will be able to play them in the iOS release. Developers said in a blog post they believe this is the first time Apple has agreed to make an externally-purchased NFT usable on the App Store.
Following the launch, Larsen told Decrypt that the company hopes to introduce the studios that are part of its Ronin Network to Apple, potentially making it easier for their games to be accepted as well.
“The relationship with Apple is solid,” he said.
AXS up but still well below peak
The native token of Axie Infinity got a boost after the announcement. AXS was up 9.6% in the past day at the time of writing, priced at $7.44, according to data from CoinGecko.
This is still a long way off its all-time high of $164.90, reached in November 2021. In the time since then, Axie has had to deal with a wider crypto market slump, as well as the fallout from a $622 million hack of Ronin.
The in-game token for Axie, Smooth Love Potion (SLP) also got a small bump of 4.2% on the announcement but is still down more than 99% on its July 2021 peak.
The decline in the value of SLP led to a collapse in the original Axie game’s economy, prompting the company to make several changes to the tokenomics. Origin was soft-launched last year as part of a transition from play-to-earn to “play-and-earn.”