“There has been a security breach on the Ronin network,” the company said in a newsletter post. “We work directly with various government agencies to ensure criminals are brought to justice.”
Representatives for Sky Mavis did not immediately respond to request for comment.
Axie Infinity uses a “play-to-earn” system that combines finance and gambling, powered by NFTs, unique tokens that can be traced back to a user. Players purchase creature-centric NFTs to enter the game, then spend more crypto to acquire and breed various beasts that they can deploy in battles. NFTs have both in-universe and real-world value, adding a kind of digital cash buzz to traditional gameplay.
The blockchain is the public ledger of where cryptocurrency transactions take place, functioning as a financial nerve center.
Ronin hackers seized some 174,000 ETH, the currency associated with the Ethereum blockchain, and nearly 26 million in USDC; collectively, the two are currently worth around $625 million. USDC is a stablecoin, which means that its value is pegged to the US dollar.
Crypto hacks are becoming more and more common as the amount of trading activity increases. A hack of the Bitmart platform in December resulted in the theft of almost $200 million in currency, while last summer a hacker hit Poly Network, which allows blockchains to work together, for a number also exceeding $600 million, although he eventually returned the money.
Activists fear blockchain’s anonymity facilitates theft; while all transactions are recorded there, it is often unclear who owns the different addresses.
Axie Infinity’s trade was frozen on Tuesday following the hack, as enthusiasts and connoisseurs wondered if piracy could make companies and gamers more skeptical of play-to-earn games.
Sky Mavis dismissed any fears the hack would disrupt its business on Tuesday.
“We are here to stay”, Axie Infinity’s Twitter account job shortly after the announcement of the hack.
The game has occasionally caused controversy due to its high cost to play; the company has even launched a “scholarship program” that matches dedicated gamers who are short on money with people who have the funds but lack the skills or the time.
Since the value of tokens fluctuates, violations can have an effect on trading. On Tuesday, the crypto community was abuzz over the action of “Cobie,” an enigmatic crypto figure (real name: Jordan Fish). He generated an intense back-and-forth on Twitter when he said he took short positions on a large number of NFTs in the game last week because he perceived security vulnerabilities.
“I noticed Axie Bridge was mined for $600m 6 days ago so I shorted AXS with high leverage,” he wrote in a post, as some did the same while others asked about their statements.
It remains to be seen how much of Ronin’s hacked cryptocurrency will go into general circulation. Converting to traditional, or fiat, currency is seen as one of the biggest hurdles for would-be crypto thieves, who struggle to obtain real-world dollars without attracting the attention of investigators. Such realities over time might deter hackers, as they realize that stealing the money is only half the battle.
Last month, a New York couple were arrested and charged with money laundering after they tried to convert some of the billions from an infamous 2016 hack into real currency, helping investigators get to them.