The creator of the world’s most popular blockchain-based game has just raised another US$152 million in an investment round led by the world’s famous crypto investment firm.

Andreesen Horowitz (a16z) led the Series B round into Axie Infinity creator Sky Mavis, a 19-employee game studio based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The raise values the startup at US$3 billion, according to The Information.

Some two million people around the world are playing Axie, Sky Mavis said, up from just 38,000 in April.

The Pokemon-like Axie battle creatures are by one measure the most successful NFT project ever, with US$2.2 billion in sales on Sky Mavis’ proprietary marketplace.

“When Axie was born in February 2018, almost nobody knew what an NFT was, let alone an Axie,” Sky Mavis said in its announcement.

“Today, NFTs have permeated mainstream culture and Axie is the largest NFT project of all time.

“Together, with our community that spans every corner of the earth, we’ve started a movement that will redefine the nature of work.”

People in the Philippines and other developing countries have found the game so profitable to play some have been quitting their jobs and using Axie Infinity to sustain themselves during the pandemic.

“It’s been a dream come true to hear stories of communities transformed, individual lives changed, and players helping each other succeed,” Sky Mavis said.

“Our loyal players have become Axie’s strongest champions with some sporting tattoos, creating esports teams, making educational content, developing tools, and personally onboarding their friends and family.”

Sky Mavis last month rewarded 10,000 early supporters with an airdrop of 800,000 AXS tokens worth a total of US$100 million.

The ERC-20 (Ethereum) token was this afternoon trading at US$130 – up 90 per cent in the past seven days – making it the No. 23 crypto.

Redefining work

Sky Mavis said the funding round would let it fuel the “play-to-earn revolution” x bring in incredible talent from around the globe.

In a bold manifesto, the Vietnamese company said it foresaw a future where work and play were blurred together and players and game developers “live, work, play and build together”.

“What Axie Infinity has unlocked is the ability to play the games you love, have fun, but also participate in the financial upside of the community,” said a16z partner Arianna Simpson.

“This is an incredibly powerful idea: it means that games are no longer pure entertainment, but cross over into the realm of work.

“Axie Infinity is transforming communities around the world and replacing traditional forms of employment, changing people’s lives as players of the game help each other succeed.”

Paradigm, Accel, Standard Crypto, FTX, Libertus Capital and Not Boring Capital also took part in the funding round, according to Sky Mavis.

Formerly ASX-listed Animoca Brands was one of the first investors in Sky Mavis, injecting $610,000 to lead a $2.1 million round in November 2019.