Aleksander Larson: A 100 percent player-owned, real-money economy is the way forward for the games industry

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The implementation of blockchain technology has introduced a whole new way for users to interact with their games and for developers to monetise their product.

We spoke to Sky Mavis‘s Aleksander Larson about the changes that blockchain technology has brought to the games space, how the company adapted to the changing industry, and where the games space is heading.


Firstly, can you please introduce yourself and briefly explain your role within your company?

I’m Aleksander Leonard Larson, Co-Founder & COO of Sky Mavis, the creator of Axie Infinity. As one of the Co-Founders, I lead the business side of the company.

I also serve on the board of the Blockchain Game Alliance, and I’m a venture partner at the South-Korean VC firm, Hashed.

What would you say has been the biggest change in the industry since you entered into it?

I would say the biggest change is how quickly P&E was created and ultimately adopted. Axie Infinity went from 38k DAU to 2.5M in a matter of months with zero marketing spend.

Did you see the above mentioned change coming? If not, how did you adapt to it?

We knew this day would come, but we were surprised by how quickly it came. We had to identify solutions to scale faster than ever when experiencing explosive growth, and ultimately we created technological infrastructure, like the Ronin Network, so we could scale the game in the future.

Axie Infinity was initially deployed on the Ethereum blockchain, and we experimented with Loom Network, a scaling solution for Ethereum before we landed on creating Ronin Network.

Ronin is now an industry-leading blockchain for gaming. It optimises for near-instant transactions and negligible fees that allow for millions of in-game microtransactions to occur seamlessly. Ronin has processed 3x more NFT trading volume than all other chains, barring Ethereum.

Thinking back over the past couple of years, what is the biggest hurdle you’ve faced?

When Axie Infinity was born in February 2018, very few knew what an NFT was, let alone an Axie.

Sky Mavis was on a bleeding edge of an industry that didn’t really exist and had a responsibility to define it and educate the market.

Aleksander Larson

Sky Mavis was on a bleeding edge of an industry that didn’t really exist and had a responsibility to define it and educate the market. The team had to build through a bare market in 2018, learn how to collaborate cross-culturally at the founder level, and navigate a hack by one of the most sophisticated groups in the world in 2022.

Today, NFTs have permeated mainstream culture and Axie is the largest NFT project of all time. We are more battle-tested than ever before and overcame challenges by always uniting together to find solutions to the problems at hand.

Many app/game developers have moved away from in-app purchases in favour of subscription models. How do you feel about the current state of monetisation in the industry?

Blockchain technology is reinventing old-school monetisation models like in-app purchases and even subscriptions. These old-school models don’t reward the players for the value they create.

Play-&-Earn is a new business model that embraces the concept of an open economy and provides ownership of assets that can be traded and is turning the gaming industry on its head.

At Sky Mavis, we create digital property rights for gamers by building games that are owned and governed by the communities that play them and make sure they are rewarded for their contributions.

Where do you think the mobile gaming industry is headed in the next few years?

In traditional gaming, the publishers and the distribution platforms have all the power. The distribution platforms take roughly 30-40 percent of the cut and the rest goes to the publishers and game developers.

By leveraging blockchain and tokens, Sky Mavis is disrupting the traditional model in the games industry which doesn’t reward gamers for their valuable feedback and contribution to the growth of the game. I believe that a 100 percent player-owned, real-money economy is the way forward for the games industry.

Technologies like AR and location-awareness are becoming increasingly mainstream. Which, if any, technology excites you most?

Naturally, I’m bullish on blockchain technology. It is a revolutionary technology because it can provide digital property rights for gamers by giving them ownership of in-game assets, ultimately reconstructing the gaming industry in order to make it fair by sharing the value in a more equitable way.

Other than blockchain, I’m a big fan of anything that adds value to the player in a new way. AR would be an example of something which I think has immense potential but we are not quite there yet.

Edited by Lewis Rees

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