Scaling Sorare on Ethereum with StarkWare

Pierre Duperrin
Sorare
Published in
4 min readMay 19, 2021

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At Sorare, we’re building an open platform where fans, players and clubs can connect around the most followed sport in the world: football. The technological standard on which Sorare cards are built, Non-Fungible Tokens (also known as NFTs), have the potential to revolutionize the way we collect, play and engage with cultural norms. This technology gives Sorare cards superpowers: digital scarcity, true ownership, authenticity, and interoperability.

Blockchain protocols are still young. Building our cards on this nascent technology is a decision that we’ve taken so that our community can benefit from these superpowers. But it comes at a cost. As seen in recent months, the Ethereum Blockchain has been a victim of its successful ecosystem: the network is saturated leading to very high transaction costs and delays.

Since 2020, we’ve been exploring the best path forward to scale Sorare to millions of fans around the world. We’re excited to share that we’re partnering with Starkware to further build on Ethereum with Zero Knowledge Proof (a.k.a. ZKP) technology. We’re working together to launch with this new infrastructure by the end of July 2021. Sorare’s ecosystem will benefit from instant transactions, practically no gas costs and the ability to add many new exciting features to onboard millions of football fans to Sorare.

Why choose Ethereum with StarkWare’s ZKP scaling technology?

Out of transparency, we’ll outline our thinking on choosing the best possible solution to scale Sorare’s blockchain stack.

Should we migrate to another blockchain?

Over the past year, we’ve been approached by many projects. Their blockchains are generally more scalable than Ethereum today. However, this increase in throughput (transactions per second) comes at the expense of security and decentralisation. This tradeoff is also known as the scalability trilemma.

We decided against compromising the security and the utility of Sorare cards for our community. Ethereum offers the interoperability and network effects that no other blockchain project can. It is the most “neutral” infrastructure, with no for-profit organization controlling it. Ethereum is the natural path to scale our vision for an open platform where anyone can own their game, build new games and third-party applications on top of our cards and open API. We believe that true digital ownership on open platforms boosted by network effects will win.

Should we move to a Sidechain?

When we launched Sorare in 2019, our vision was to bring mainstream football fans to crypto through a compelling football game. To achieve this, we needed an infrastructure that could achieve thousands of transactions per seconds. That’s why we initially built Sorare on the Ethereum sidechain Loom. Whilst Loom initially focused on supporting consumer facing applications on Ethereum, their strategy subsequently changed to support mainly B2B businesses. We had to change plans and decided to move to Ethereum (you can read why here) as no other sidechain had a big enough track record, adoption and maturity.

Today, some sidechains are seeing rapid adoption. However, they don’t offer the same level of security and decentralisation as Ethereum.

Layer 2 solutions make no security compromise

Layer 2 solutions directly inherit from the security and decentralisation of Ethereum. They increase throughput by taking heavy computation off-chain. Layer 2 built with ZK proofs are the most performant in terms of scalability and cost. They batch a large number of transactions together, generate a validity proof that is committed on-chain to update the state (who owns what).

As Vitalik Buterin puts it:

In the medium to long-term ZK rollups will win out in all use cases as ZK-SNARK technology improves

After extensive due diligence, we identified that ZKP powered Layer 2 is the only solution capable of scaling without a compromise on security.

StarkWare ZK technology is production ready and has been battle tested. More importantly, they have an incredible R&D team and a similar philosophy around building an open ecosystem (code, interoperability, etc). We believe we’ve chosen the right solution and partner for years to come. In a next blog post we’ll outline the technical design decisions we’ve taken with StarkWare.

What does this partnership mean for current and future Sorare managers?

Instant transfers, payments and rewards on Sorare

There won’t be any more gas-related delays on Sorare. All card transfers will be instantly confirmed. You won’t have to wonder where your card is, when that transfer will be settled or when rewards will drop. The Sorare experience will be more consistent for you, enabling us to concentrate on what matters: creating more magical moments for our growing community of passionate football fans.

Fund your Sorare accounts in seconds at near to no costs

We’ll work with our existing partner Ramp to make sure that funding your account on Sorare is near instantaneous with no costs related to the Ethereum blockchain. It’ll also enable us to add a new stable currency on the platform, making it more accessible and understandable to mainstream audiences globally.

Exciting new possibilities

Moving on a Layer 2 will help us integrate the great benefits of NFTs (scarcity, ownership, interoperability, transparency) without new players needing to understand or use blockchain-related tools. It’ll help Sorare become much more accessible with the possibility of integrating micro-transactions.

Building the future of collectibles on Ethereum is difficult. But it’s worth it. With our new scaling infrastructure powered by StarkWare, we’ll develop new collectibles, a better game experience without compromising the open ecosystem of Ethereum. We can’t wait to hear your feedback and see what you’ll be building with Sorare, as we embark on this quest to make NFTs mainstream through the global game.

If you’re interested in building on cutting edge tech check out our open positions here.

Play Sorare today and join the community on:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SorareHQ
🔥 Discord: https://discord.com/invite/TSjtHaM
🎨 Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sorare_official/
📭 Telegram: https://t.me/SorareFC
🖨️ Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/Sorare/

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