From Axie to Pixels: the continuing rise of Ronin

In its 2023 recap, Ronin boldly claimed it was “the fastest growing gaming blockchain in the world”.

Whether this is defined in user numbers, community growth or third-party games onboarded, there’s no doubt Sky Mavis has recently reached some key milestones.

At the beginning of 2023, the company was still largely associated with its native title Axie Infinity: Origins. Somewhat in the shadows were Axie Infinity: Homeland early access and Axie Infinity: Raylights, neither of which generated much activity.

As for active wallets on Ronin, the numbers show it had just under 12,000 daily active users (DAU) on 1st January 2023, down 99% since its all-time high of 1.1 million daily active accounts at the end of 2021. Conversely blockchain activity has peaked at just under 900,000 DAUWs on 19th February 2024 and is currently running at around 750,000.

Although the most significant leap in users is down to Pixels’ migration to Ronin in October 2023, many factors contribute to the revamped network and its growth. Regarding Axie Infinity: Origins, its daily activity has more than doubled, up from less than 7,000 active user wallets in April 2023, to just over 15,000 DAUWs in February 2024.

In terms of the value of AXS token, it’s down 94% from its all-time-high, and 18% in the last year, but the project still has a current market cap of $1.1 billion, which makes it one of the top blockchain gaming projects, and the RON token is one the best gaming performers, up 650% in the past four months.

Ronin welcomes third-party games

Eleven months ago, Sky Mavis dropped the news that it was widening its network to include games from third-party developers.

One of them, topdown PC shooter The Machines Arena from Icelandic/Chinese developer Directive Games, is currently in closed beta season 3. No blockchain is yet integrated in the game, but its skins will become mintable on Ronin from 29th February. The Machines Arena is also available via Epic Games Store.

Another developer joining Ronin was South Korean mobile game startup Bali Games.

A year on since the announcement, the team recently launched PVP match-3 puzzle game Axie Champions which leverages the Axie IP. It’s currently available for Android APK, and expected to hit the app stores later in 2024. 

Ronin has announced a partnership with Tribes Studio and its social open-world MMO Tribesters: Island of Solas. Its first playable, titled Tribesters: Keeper of Secrets, will be released in April 2024. Described as a single-player RPG, Keeper of Secrets features quests including six different tribes around which the community-driven narrative is based. Players are encouraged to actively contribute to the game’s lore and gameplay, while also being granted a chance to collect NFTs and other rewards. The NFTs will serve as tokens unlocking additional opportunities to earn a character for the forthcoming MMO.

Another partner developer is Singapore-based, which has brought its cricket-based mini-games, currently available via Google Play and Apple App Store, to Ronin.

About two months later, in May 2023, Battle Bears Heroes became the first third-party game to launch on Ronin. A top-down shooter utilizing the Battle Bears franchise’s 2010 classic mobile game BB GO, the game is in soft launch via app stores, and currently limited to users in UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South East Asia and Latin America.

Migrating games find a home in Ronin

By now we’ve grown so used to games announcing their moves and expansions to other blockchains we hardly consider it news anymore. This was not the case in the summer of 2023, when high profile Ethereum NFT collection CyberKongz announced it was launching a proportion of its anime-style Genkai NFTs on Ronin, in addition to migrating its Play & Kollect on-chain community from Polygon to Ronin. The team also revealed it was working with Sky Mavis to develop a Genkai-themed game.

As mentioned, Pixels leaving Polygon to launch on Ronin in October 2023 was the big breakthrough in terms of daily activity on the network. And although the move overshadowed much else of the action, it coincided with other developers also announcing they were onboarding the ecosystem.

In September, mobile game developer Zillion Whales announced it was working on forthcoming mobile-based card-collecting RTS Wild Forest. The game is scheduled for full launch later in 2024, but open beta is available until the end of Q1 2024 via Google Play and iOS TestFlight. Recently, Zillion Whales also minted its first NFTs on Ronin, including game packs with a chance to get one of 1,000 Lord NFTs. Evidence of its momentum, the packs sold out in 7 minutes.

Another developer announcing its migration from Polygon to Ronin was ACT Games with its PC/mobile web3 TCG Zoids Wild Arena. Currently available in beta world wide – excluding Japan, China, and Korea – the game utilizes the Zoids IP from toy company Tomy. In addition, ACT Games is working on a web3 game based on the Hello Kitty brand, set to launch on Ronin sometime in 2024.

To end the year in a similar fashion, in December Singapore-based developer Foonie Magus announced it was migrating its roguelite card-battle god-game Apeiron from Polygon to Ronin. Following its recent play-to-airdrop event, the game currently has 24,000 DAUWs.

At the back of its achievements in 2023, crowned Ronin Gaming blockchain of the year, and Sky Mavis landed number 2 among our Top 50 Blockchain Game Companies of 2024, and so far the company has started the new year in the same spirit.

2024, and beyond

So far in 2024, Japanese entertainment and game company GMonsters announced it was partnering with MIXI to bring a series of three Fight League games to Ronin, starting with roguelike arcade game Fight League Survivor. Ronin users can expect to be able to join the game’s closed beta, as well as an NFT drop of Survivor Genesis Fighters, during Q1 2024. In addition, GMonsters is also working on PVP turn-based card game Fight League Medallion and loot-collecting ARPG Fight League Missions.

Most recently, Gadget-Bot revealed that its story-driven RPG Kaidro, which was initially announced to deploy on Immutable, will instead launch exclusively on Ronin.

But it’s undoubtedly Pixels that is Ronin’s brightest star. According to DappRadar, its daily wallet activity is 248,000, while following the launch of its PIXEL token, project CEO Luke Barwikowski claimed it had 318,883 daily players on 21st February.

In addition, Sky Mavis has its community-based Greenlight Mavis Hub builder program, which consists of nine Axie themed games in various genres. Its own social adventure RPG Project T also launched in 2023, as did its NFT marketplace Mavis Market, while the original game Axie Classic underwent a revival.

As a gaming ecosystem then, Ronin certainly has strong momentum in early 2024. And as more of its games officially launch in the coming months, it would be a surprise if overall onchain activity doesn’t break its previous 2021 high.

Of course, with the likes of Immutable, Beam, Arbitrum, Oasys, Skale and many more, Ronin has fierce competition to claim the title of “King of the Gaming Chains”, but with the bull market in full force, you’d be brave to bet against its further rise.

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