An Overview of Blockchain Gaming Backbones
We take a look at some platform options that are available to cryptogame developers
Blockchains are not inherently designed for games; they’re far too slow. The main platform for smart contracts, Ethereum, can only perform 15 tps on-chain. This puts a serious hamper on popular game studios as any games they produce have a popularity cap. Cryptokitties is the quintessential example: a game that grew too quickly and actually clogged the entire network. Game developers are largely creating games with the idea that scalability should improve over the next couple years, but there are developers that claim solutions to these problems. Blockchains and second layer solutions alike are working on scalability improvements, and some specifically for gaming. Projects like the Loom network, EOS, and Wax are building blockchains that will be able to process enough transactions to provide gamemakers the ability to create efficient economies in their games. While BitGuild will be using the Ethereum network initially, as it is currently the go-to platform for smart contracts, they have previously stated they are open to exploring other options at a future time. Let’s look at each of these options individually.
The Loom Network describes itself as, “EOS on Ethereum.” This is an apt analogy, as it uses sidechains on top of the Ethereum platform to improve scalability. Out of the box, Loom uses the same consensus platform as EOS, delegated proof-of-stake (DPoS). Because fewer people have control of the network, fewer nodes have to be queried in order to confirm a transaction, resulting in a massively improved performance speed. It also allows developers to use any consensus algorithm they want in case their performance goals are slightly different. This allows the Ethereum network to handle applications that it previously would have been flooded by. It also is secured by Plasma, an alternate scaling solution that allows users to exit sidechains in the event of foul play. If a staking member running the chain starts censoring transactions, the user can send a proof and take their tokens back to the Ethereum blockchain. This means that they will be expensive to trade, but also more secure.
Loom prides itself on its ability to deliver products, and as such it has already planned games to demonstrate its platform’s effectiveness. Recently the team announced their kickstarter for “Zombie Battleground”, a collectible card card based on zombies. The project has already raised $173,000 of its $250,000 goal and will be ready by May 2019 if funded. In theory, the Loom network will enable large numbers of trades between players allowing them to effectively utilize their gaming assets. They are also sponsoring a game hackathon for their network in July, looking to increase use of their network and token.
EOS has been in the news a lot recently for its public launch. The network went live a couple days ago after a couple hiccups, but has claimed speed in the millions of transactions per second. This has excited many game developers, as it could provide the infrastructure for massive multiplayer online games. While Loom can also do this on Ethereum, this scalability will come out of the box for EOS, and not require a third party application on top of the network. The account system for EOS will also make it easier to keep track of identity on the platform. In EOS users can register with human-readable names and set specific permissions for transactions. This will make it easier to create gameplay that requires joint action by multiple players. This could be used to create clan governance structures or cooperative strategy games directly from the blockchain. So far there have been few games to announce development on the chain aside from Wizard.one, a collectible wizard battling game. As the launch was relatively recent, we can expect to see far more games being published on the EOS chain soon.
Wax, an acronym for Worldwide Asset Exchange, is a blockchain designed for trading gaming assets from any game. Wax itself is being developed by the same team that created the asset exchange website OPSkins.com, originally a website for trading CounterStrike weapon skins. The site has expanded to provide asset trading for 13 games, including the cryptokitties collectibles mentioned earlier. They have also partnered with CryptoSpaceX, another blockchain based game, to sell their assets on Wax. The developers of this platform hope to create a digital asset marketplace that will allow any game to plug-and-play with their in-game items. They have already integrated their token ‘WAX’ with their website and it can be used as a payment system for items, it is unclear however whether or not they will require use of their token in the future.
Interestingly enough, Wax recently announced that their blockchain will actually be a fork of the EOS software. This means Wax will be operating with the same protocol efficiencies as EOS. Wax will also not have the same drag on its performance as EOS, as it will likely be specialized for gaming and not have other large applications hogging computing power (though it will most likely have a lower maximum load due to its network value).
Another almost all too obvious mention is of course TRON, also known to many as TRX. Having launched the first iteration of their chain not long ago, and with a huge following of their highly popular coin, the TRON foundation is well poised to take the spot of the Ethereum blockchain in the not so distant future. By the end of the month, all TRX coins should have been migrated to their own chain, known as the “main chain”- It just remains to be seen if usable products find a home to thrive in there.
Many of the cryptocurrency gaming backbones are trying to solve the same problem, scalability. This is why each of the aforementioned platforms are all using the same consensus protocol, delegated proof-of-stake. Ultimately, however, the winner will be decided by who brings the best games to life. Each of these platforms has a unique take on the future of blockchain gaming, but one thing is always consistent: the ability for true gaming asset ownership.