Will blockchain gaming scale to become a serious marketplace? Sidechains could be the answer

According to data from DappRadar, the once mighty Crypto Kitties has an average of just 300 daily users. This represents a huge decline since the height of the craze last December, when a single digital cat changed hands for a record $155,000. In this article, I’ll take a quick look at the roadblocks encountered by Crypto Kitties and the way that a new game, Axie Infinity, is using a sidechain to scale efficiently. Could sidechains help the blockchain gaming industry scale into a serious marketplace?

What happened to CryptoKitties?

The fact that the Ethereum gas fee is currently 50 times what it was last December when the game racked up 80,500 monthly transactions is an obvious culprit for the decline of a once great game. In common with all DApps, CryptoKitties has struggled with scaling as it has to compete with all other DApps as well as financial transactions for resources on the Ethereum network. The Ethereum fee market is essentially non-scalable; users have to pay more for gas to get Ethereum transactions confirmed faster. According to blockchain analytics site Bloxy, CryptoKitties has experienced a 98.4 percent decline in transaction volume over the past six months.

What is Axie Infinity?

Founded by Jared Psigoda (Forbes China “30 under 30”), Bitguild has developed a cult following for games such as League of Angels and Wartune, among others. Its latest release, Axie Infinity is centered around breeding, raising and battling cute pets called ‘Axies’. As with CryptoKitties, ownership of these digital pets is recorded on the Ethereum blockchain. Players collect teams of Axies to battle it out in digital areas, and can also trade, buy and sell Axies on the marketplace.

Where Axie Infinity differs from other Ethereum blockchain based games such as CryptoKitties is in its unique approach to scaling. It is using a sidechain called ZombieChain to help it scale efficiently.

Could sidechains help blockchain games with scalability?

If moving game data away from the Ethereum blockchain seems like a bold move, consider this: Why should a transaction related to a game item be treated with the same level of security as a transfer worth millions of dollars? Is there any need for gamers to be competing for resources with financial users?

For a game to succeed, it needs lighting fast transaction times. In all honesty, most gamers will move onto the next game when ‘transaction fees’ are even mentioned. This is where ZombieChain comes in. This EOS-like DPoS sidechain for Ethereum DApps can help games like Axie Infinity to develop without facing the same scalability issues that have plagued other blockchain based games in the past.

Why could ZombieChain be the solution to scalability?

ZombieChain is a DPoS dAppChain – a sidechain – that uses the Ethereum blockchain as its base layer. Created using the Loom SDK, ZombieChain is a sidechain on which Axie Infinity players can do battle with their Axies away from the constraints of the Ethereum blockchain.

To keep games fast paced, all the battles and actions in the Axie Infinity universe take place on a blazing fast sidechain, ZombieChain, with sub second block times. All the important details – such as the winning player – are transferred and stored on the Ethereum blockchain after the action has taken place.

Could Axie Infinity scale and succeed where other games have failed?

At present, the Loom Network will supply the nodes on which ZombieChain depends. If the game grows in popularity, the next logical step for Axie Infinity will be to create their own dAppChain, according to Axie Infinity COO Aleksander Leonard Larsen. This approach will help the game to scale as it grows in popularity and avoid the bottlenecks such as gas fees and slow transaction times that have hindered other blockchain games. This innovative use of sidechains could see blockchain gaming scale to become a serious marketplace in the near future.  

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Jonathan Deller is a writer-at-large for Block Telegraph based in the United Kingdom. A teacher with a background in English and Education, when he is not teaching, he is busy writing about cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, Blockchain and markets. He created AltcoinSheet to explain cryptocurrencies in simple terms that anyone can understand.

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