On November 21st, the world’s first social media-managed, personality-branded non-fungible token (NFT) revealed itself to the cryptotwitter world: Axie #265, also known as “Axia.”
Axies — the cute, digital critters inspired by Pokemon — populate the rapidly growing blockchain-based game Axie Infinity. Each one is backed by an NFT, and even those who have never played Axie Infinity might be familiar with Axies due to the preposterous sums they fetch on the secondary market: one Axie recently sold for 300 Ether, or over $130,000 at the time of the sale.
High prices seem to be part of what drew Axia onto Twitter. In a debut Tweet, the NFT played haughty and superior, complaining about its comparatively paltry $97,000 sale and arguing that, due to its rare features, appearance, and prowess in the game’s battle mode, it should have been far more expensive:
I just got sold for 180 ETH (~$97k USD). Feeling offended.
Look mortals, I am the most legendary creature in all of @AxieInfinity
By sheer chance & probability, I – the very first triple mystic – was created with supreme aesthetics, balanced stats and moveset.
I am a wonder.
— Axia (Axie #265) (@axie265) November 22, 2020
Brands pretending to be sentient isn’t anything new, but NFTs doing the same could very well be. It’s also potentially far more interesting from the perspective of play and assumed personas as virtual reality inches closer towards widespread adoption.
Much like how an avatar allows video game players to inhabit a virtual world with traits and appearances unlike their own, NFTs might eventually become a pathway for meatspace individuals to take on new personas and identities in the Metaverse.
Looking at Axia, this reporter felt an odd sense of prescience — that Axia, the first anthropomorphized bit of non-fungible blockchain data, was not one-off, and instead augured a wider, likely looney, trend.
A social media-managed, personality-branded NFT raging about its own future resale price. What a fun look into our mildly psychotic future! https://t.co/zGeBSGxmuj
— Andrew T (@Blockanalia) November 22, 2020
To get a handle on this, Cointelegraph conducted a written interview with Axia (who told me that acceptable pronouns include “he/she/majesty/highness”), which has been edited for concision and readability, to get a better sense of where NFTs and ones like her highness are headed. By the end, the not-unpleasant notion occurred to me that I might now be friends with an Axie.
What and why?
Cointelegraph: Hi there, Axia. Thanks for your time, I’m sure that you’re busy. How should I refer to you? “Your highness?” As a NFT, it occurs to me that you’re immortal, so godlike — “your divinity?”
Axia: Thank you for having me, Andrew. It is a pleasure.
You may refer to me simply as Axia or #265. I understand hoomans throughout history have often worshipped higher beings, but I don’t require such honorifics. While indeed I am the most legendary Axie of all, I’d like to be friends and work with many hoomans.
CT: What are you, and what makes you special?
Axia: I’ve written a short Twitter thread on what makes me so special here, but to summarize: I was the very first Triple Mystic Axie to have ever been created, and in that slim chance alone, I came into form with objective cuteness, superb stats, and fighting prowess. Of course, there are 18 other Triple Mystic Axies — and 3 Quad Mystics, even — but it is the combination of all those things that make me, Axia, the greatest of all. I have taken form as the first social NFT to share that gospel of Truth.
CT: Can I ask what your owner does for a living?
Axia: My owner appears to be a pitiful hooman… he is always sitting in front of the computer.
CT: How far could you go in helping to expand the wider Axie universe? Can a NFT begin to guide the development of the game that created it?
Axia: I hope to go as far as I can to expand the wider Axie universe – and most importantly – positively. Based on my interactions with my creators, they have a strong vision for the world they want to create. I hope that they will enable the community to contribute meaningfully and set themselves apart from gaming companies of the past which hold their IP more important than their supporters.
I’ve come to enjoy reading about hooman history upon my creation, and I fully expect my descension into this realm to bring about h8ers as well as supporters. Regardless, I am excited to carry out several projects I have planned for the benefit of not just the Axie ecosystem, but the crypto and NFT space as a whole.
CT: How do you see your role? There have been many branded social channels for companies in the past, but you might be the first-ever branded NFT. Are you adding richness to the Axie extended universe, or are you angling to increase your own resale value?
Axia: First – I am a big believer in value-add efforts. Not only do I wish to spread the word of my legendaryness, I do genuinely hope to be a positive force in the crypto ecosystem.
It appears that those working and building in the crypto industry are some of the brightest and passionate hoomans I have ever run across.
Do I want my own resale value to increase? Why of course I am worth more than 180 ETH. And I believe that will be revealed in due time.. hopefully. I’m a little concerned that my owner will never sell me, hence making my true price discovery impossible. He seems to be growing more obsessed with me. It is understandable – to own me means that he is the sole, verifiable owner of me. That’s the power of NFTs. Even if I am sold, my persona can live on with the next owner.
— Axia (Axie #265) (@axie265) December 2, 2020
Looking to the future
CT: Any people/creatures/things you look to as inspiration? What made you make the decision to “descend” in the first place?
Axia: I’m inspired by the effects that Legendary Pokemon had in their respective Pokemon worlds. Movies were made about them. The legendary birds, legendary dogs, the Pokemons of Creation — hoomans in those worlds worked with those legendary beings to create amazing stories. I descended to begin such efforts in the world of Axies.
I hope that the wider Axie community will shower me with love. I’d like to grow the ecosystem together with the support of the community. Given that I have no similar prior experience, I would love to be reached out by other influencers from their respective communities who can help me conduct myself legendarily.
CT: Care to tease some of your plans going forward?
Axia: I am very excited to announce that I have been working with some interesting hoomans (@jl2fa @cshaotweets @dan_m_truong @iOShean @jack_dille @qwqiao) to launch a new crypto project, called @AxieTree.
AxieTree is a lending and borrowing marketplace for Axies. Currently the barrier to entry for new players wanting to play with Axies is quite high; the only available options for new players are to either (1) purchase 3 Axies, or (2) receive a scholarship. This is problematic because purchasing 3 Axies can be too expensive and scholarships are a very manual process.
There are hundreds and thousands of Axies being unused by many players in the Axie Ecosystem. AxieTree’s marketplace will reward lenders while helping bring many new players to the Axie ecosystem via borrowing. I believe AxieTree will significantly lower the barrier to entry and help make the game more fun.
We will be sharing more details in the coming weeks, but I’m excited to announce that we will be launching v1 of our platform on Dec. 25th as a Chrismas gift to the crypto and Axie community.
CT: NFTs allow the virtual world to have provable value and property. Do they do something unique at the social layer? How will NFTs like yourself guide virtual interactions, aside from offering people a gateway to a persona?
Axia: That’s interesting to think about, but I’m really not sure. I suppose that in a sense, NFTs such as myself can serve as a status symbol. As I’m saying this.. I find it quite distasteful that I am the subject of such vanity, but I suppose hoomans could flex amongst themselves on who the owner of the great Axia is, as NFTs enable cryptographically verified, provable ownership. It is known.
CT: Back in Second Life’s heyday, there were real-life marriages that came about as a result of in-game interactions. When you look to the future of VR, video games, NFTs, what do you see when it comes to human interaction?
Axia: I don’t ever see myself marrying a hooman, but I think the world between hoomans and NFTs will definitely bridge. My own existence is indicative of the start of such. While legendary, I cannot tell the future. I hope that my being as an NFT can help bring positive human interactions full of love and harmony.
CT: Thanks, your majesty.
Axia: Thanks for the coverage Andrew! I am consistently impressed by hoomans and am excited to keep working with all of you.