This report is written by Xangle and translated and jointly published by LianGuaiNews.
For a game, both entertainment and advanced infrastructure are equally important. The gaming industry has been striving to keep up with technological advancements and achieve maximum growth within the available resources. The same goes for blockchain games, as this vertical sector has been continuously improving user-friendliness through technological advancements. These efforts are reflected in protocol-level enhancements (such as scalability and security) and platform-level enhancements (such as wallets and marketplaces). In particular, when people saw the popularity of the Ethereum-based game CryptoKitties causing severe congestion on the Ethereum network at the end of 2017, developers started paying attention to scalability challenges and searching for more scalable alternatives, which gave rise to game infrastructure projects like Immutable.
Immutable is a leading Web3 game project in the industry, simplifying the creation process of Web3 games through pre-built solutions. Since its mainnet launch in April 2021, the data performance of games released on the Immutable platform, such as “Gods Unchained” and “Illuvium,” has consistently remained at a high level. The growth of Immutable is evident as it has established a series of partnerships with mainstream Web2 entertainment companies, the most notable of which are Gamestop, Disney, and TikTok. In 2022, most of the blockchain game funding flowed into Ethereum, Immutable, and Polygon, indicating that crypto investors and game developers are heavily betting on Immutable.
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So why do Web2 and Web3 companies prefer Immutable? Developer interviews revealed the advantages that attract them to use this platform. In this article, we will explore the advantages of Immutable and briefly discuss how its recent developments will shape its ecosystem in the coming years.
Why do game developers choose Immutable?
What makes Immutable the preferred choice for game developers? Immutable was launched in April 2021 as an Ethereum-based NFT minting/trading zk-rollup protocol. It adopts Starkware’s ZK-STARK technology to provide high scalability with over 9,000 TPS, robust security, and integrated cross-game liquidity.
Advantage 1: High Scalability, Gasless NFT Minting and Trading
Immutable aims to address significant challenges in the Ethereum NFT ecosystem, where Ethereum can only process 3-5 NFT transactions per second, and NFT fees are particularly high. Immutable takes a different approach by not charging Gas fees for NFT minting and trading. It achieves high scalability of over 9,000 TPS through zkRollup, far exceeding other mainnets, laying a foundation for accommodating higher transaction volumes that may come with more game players in the future.
Game developers are keen to ensure smooth transaction processing, especially when a large number of players join. The scalability of Immutable becomes a significant advantage in this regard. Additionally, NFT transactions on Immutable have no Gas requirements, simplifying the onboarding process for players unfamiliar with Web3 transactions. In fact, many game developers who choose Immutable, such as Ember Sword and Deviant Faction, consider its scalability, gasless NFT transactions, and improved user experience as the platform’s primary advantages.
Advantage 2: Strong Security of ZK Rollup
The security of ZK Rollup has also caught the attention of game developers. Some game projects choose to launch their own blockchain or sidechain as a means to enhance the scalability limitations of Ethereum. However, these alternative solutions do not inherit the security of Ethereum, which makes their security and decentralization lower than Ethereum. Independent blockchains or sidechains typically transfer assets to Ethereum through cross-chain bridges, but after a series of vulnerabilities were exploited, security issues arose. Ronin, the sidechain of Axie Infinity, is a typical example. In March 2022, the Ronin Bridge connecting the Ronin chain and Ethereum was hacked, resulting in a theft of over $600 million. The price of AXS also plummeted from $64 to $17, a drop of over 73%, causing significant damage to the ecosystem. Unlike Web 2 games, Web3 games allow users to own and trade their in-game assets, making secure storage of user assets an urgent need.
Immutable has confidence in the network effect of the Ethereum ecosystem. The company does not launch its own blockchain or sidechain to enhance scalability, but builds its platform around zkRollup technology, inheriting the security of Ethereum. Unlike Optimistic Rollup, which takes 1-2 weeks for withdrawal, zkRollup achieves instant withdrawals through validity proofs. Therefore, game developers who hope to connect to the Ethereum ecosystem and seek scalable solutions tend to use Immutable, which perfectly meets the requirements.
Advantage 3: Protocol-level Order Book Integration of Liquidity
With technological advancements, there may be other new chains like Immutable that have high scalability and security. However, even with more advanced technology, users are unlikely to switch from one chain to another unless there are special advantages. This is due to the network effect, which becomes more apparent as more users join. This emphasizes the importance of initial user adoption, which Immutable demonstrates through the launch of proprietary games like Gods Unchained.
Immutable also provides cross-game integrated liquidity by introducing order book functionality built at the protocol level. This functionality allows players to have their buy or sell orders for assets listed on all NFT markets supported by Immutable. These markets span across the United States and Canada, including the NFT market of the US video game retailer GameStop and game markets registered on Immutable. Listing NFTs from newly launched games on existing game NFT markets is a powerful marketing advantage as it significantly increases their exposure. This cross-game liquidity integration is particularly attractive to new developers.
Thanks to the protocol-level order book, the trading volume and revenue of game NFTs doubled compared to the previous year in 2022. With the development of the ecosystem, the accompanying network effect is expected to further promote liquidity integration.
Immutable: A Growing Ecosystem
Platform Activities Show Active On-Chain Data
Building on the advantages mentioned earlier, Immutable has launched games such as Gods Unchained and Illuvium, both of which have generated stable income. After reaching approximately $1 million in revenue in December 2021, Immutable experienced a significant decline in the second quarter of 2022. However, it has since recovered and generated $500,000 in revenue over the past year. As Immutable confirms 2% of the NFT transaction volume as revenue, this indicates a high level of activity on the Immutable platform.
Since the launch of the IMX token, both trading volume and the number of holders have been steadily increasing. It is worth noting that the surge in trading volume coincided with the launch of highly anticipated games or NFTs, bringing new holders to the platform. The most recent surge in trading volume occurred on July 31st when the RPG game Ember Sword launched its Alpha Land Sale. Ember Sword garnered wide attention, with over 12,000 players participating in the alpha game testing from more than 50 countries.
In addition to Ember Sword, the Web3 game Cross the Ages has also been popular in Web2, ranking first in strategy games on the French App Store and maintaining a top 5 position for over 4 weeks. Immutable continues to launch interesting games, bringing new users into the ecosystem.
Over 150 Games Launched
The aforementioned advantages facilitate the introduction of numerous games to the platform, and Immutable itself is also developing Web3 games. In addition to Web3 games, Immutable has partnered with top Web2 companies such as GameStop, Warner Games, iLogos, and Mineloader to bring Web2 games to the platform. These new additions include IMVU, which has 7 million monthly active users, Cross the Age, which consistently ranks first on the App Store, Undead Block, Kiraverse (beta version), Aglet, and Immortal Game.
The ecosystem consists of over 150 games, covering a wide range of genres, including RPGs, FPSs, and various other types.
Continued Development in the Crypto Winter
Even during the crypto winter, Immutable remains actively developing new products and has announced a collaboration with Polygon to develop a zkEVM compatible with the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). Immutable is also committed to improving user UI/UX, which remains a continuous barrier to mass adoption of Web3 games.
Introducing Game-Specific zkEVM to Enhance Connectivity with Ethereum
In March 2023, Immutable announced its plan to develop a second game expansion solution called Immutable zkEVM, while continuing the development of the existing Immutable zk rollup based on starkware. zkEVM is a rollup technology that uses zero-knowledge proofs to ensure strong EVM compatibility. zkEVM allows developers to seamlessly build games on Ethereum without making extensive code modifications. Immutable’s zkEVM is a specialized solution tailored for game development, offering unique features not found in other zkEVM solutions, including on-chain royalties.
Currently, over 90% of DeFi TVL is generated by the EVM ecosystem, and there are more Ethereum developers in the Web3 ecosystem than any other mainnet. With the release of zkEVM, the integration of the Ethereum ecosystem is expected to further enhance the Immutable ecosystem.
Currently, more than 7 projects have announced plans to build games based on zkEVM. These include games developed by MagmaByte, which has 15-20 years of game development experience, and Weracle, known for games like Endless Frontier and Metal Slug, with a cumulative download count of over 35 million.
Optimized user solutions for gaming
Improving technology at the protocol level is only part of ensuring the success of Web 3 games. Equally important is a user experience that is familiar and enjoyable for Web 3 game players. Immutable not only continues to develop the aforementioned blockchain protocols, but also develops a range of products that can provide a Web2-like user experience. Key features in this regard include the wallet infrastructure LianGuaissport and the payment solution Checkout. The Global Orderbook feature is similar to the integrated liquidity described earlier and is also part of the Immutable product.
Immutable LianGuaissport: Wallet solution optimized for gaming experience
Immutable is preparing to launch Immutable LianGuaissport, a solution that addresses the current challenges related to wallets and achieves a better gaming experience. Currently in testing, Immutable LianGuaissport supports passwordless login and automatically generates a wallet for users when they start playing games, greatly simplifying the user login process. Users can also use a single Immutable LianGuaissport wallet to trade cryptocurrencies in all markets and games.
Checkout: Providing seamless transaction experience for users
To create a payment method familiar to mainstream gamers, Immutable will launch an integrated payment solution called Checkout. Checkout provides a user-friendly interface where users can link their wallets, manage balances, and bridge their assets. Immutable supports various payment methods from over 100 countries worldwide, aiming to simplify the interaction of global gamers on the platform.
The future plans of Immutable include the development of Smart Checkout, an automated feature that analyzes users’ wallet balances and transaction requests. If a user’s wallet balance is insufficient to pay for gas fees or purchases, Smart Checkout will automatically guide the user to fiat gateways, exchanges, or bridges to ensure fund security. This automated system will handle tasks in advance, allowing users to purchase specific assets without the need for manual fund management.
The launch of zkEVM is expected to expand the ecosystem
With its high scalability, strong security, gasless NFT minting and trading, and integrated cross-game liquidity, Immutable has successfully brought numerous games to its platform. Currently, there are over 150 games of different types being built within the ecosystem.
Excellence in games goes beyond content; the infrastructure that facilitates the enjoyment of the content is also crucial. The release of zkEVM demonstrates that Immutable has been actively developing products even during the crypto winter. This new development will once again drive the growth of the Immutable ecosystem. Unlike the current Immutable protocol, the lack of EVM compatibility has hindered the importation of Ethereum Solidity code, limiting the ecosystem’s expansion. The introduction of zkEVM aims to address this limitation and allow Ethereum developers to seamlessly deploy games using Immutable’s zkEVM. With a continuous influx of users, the release of zkEVM will bring more games to this ecosystem, further promoting the platform’s long-term development.