December 24, 2020 — Sky Mavis, the makers of Axie Infinity has launched a public testnet of Ronin, an Ethereum sidechain built for NFTs to address network congestion that are critical in any blockchain activity especially in games. This deployment follows a successful private Testnet phase and it also means Ronin’s mainnet launch is set to happen soon. The Axie Infinity team also announced its initial validators for Ronin, which include Binance, NonFungible.com. Animoca Brands, Sparq, and gaming giant Ubisoft.
Axie Infinity Milestones
The announcement comes at the back of major traction milestones for Axie Infinity. There are currently around 26,000 Axie holders. Data from Nansen.AI and Dapp Radar suggest it’s the number one game on the Ethereum blockchain based on monthly average users. It also recently released its Land demo, its new gameplay component, and has successfully launched AXS, the game’s governance token now with a $200 million market cap.
In a blog post, Axie Infinity said that in order for the game to become successful — to truly go viral and reach people outside the blockchain games and cryptocurrency ecosystem — it needs a scaling solution to help more people have access to the game.
Access to the game has been a key issue because of the preparation needed to play a blockchain-based game. This would include buying the cryptocurrency Ether, setting up the MetaMask wallet, and the actual purchase of Axie, which could be made expensive by high transaction or gas fees.
Play To Earn
Still, those who have gone through the process of onboarding and playing the game were rewarded for their time, effort and skill. Anytime players win a battle in Axie Infinity, they get rewarded with SLP, an ERC20 token that is a requirement for breeding Axies. Those who don’t breed Axies can sell these SLPs for ETH or even to Philippine Pesos (Php).
As the Philippines is actually one of the major markets with the most number of Axie Infinity players, many have benefited with earning SLP especially at the height of the current pandemic. Some players have earned to the point that they earned more than the minimum basic salaried worker in the Philippines.
One pain point identified, and one that has been prevalent in blockchain, is the network congestion. In Axie Infinity, buying and selling an Axie, breeding then, and purchasing and selling land, among other things, require transacting in the Ethereum blockchain. Any activity on Ethereum requires gas fees, which could sometimes be higher than the value of the Axie or Land being purchased or sold.
To address this, the Axie Infinity team built Ronin, an Ethereum sidechain built specifically for the game.
Key facts about Ronin, Axie Infinity’s Ethereum Sidechain:
- Ronin is an Ethereum sidechain built specifically for Axie Infinity. Each Axie is an ERC721 token represented as a unique digital creature that can be used in a variety of games. So far, there are Axie battles and a kingdom-building game centered around ownership of land plots (Project K). Land and items (artifacts) are also ERC 721 tokens. Small Love Potions (SLP) and Axie Infinity Shards (AXS) are ERC 20 tokens native to the Axie ecosystem.
- Ronin is currently a Byzantine Fault Tolerant proof of authority(POA) network operated by validators. Validators are appointed by Sky Mavis, the core developers of Axie Infinity.
- Blocks require approval from 2/3 of Validators in order to be approved Over time, Ronin will be upgraded to incorporate proof of stake elements as well as new layer 2 solutions such as ZK Sync and rollups. These are not production ready for NFTS yet.
- Validators are responsible for authoring and validating blocks, updating price oracles, and approving deposits and transfers of assets (ETH, ERC20, and ERC721) to and from Ronin. Validators also control the addition and removal of other validators.
A bug bounty program is ongoing to squash out any major issues. Running until the mainnet is deployed, 15,000 AXS is allotted for this program as rewards.
Ronin is crucial to the Axie audience in the Philippines
In a message to BitPinas, Jeff Zirlin, Growth Lead of Axie Infinity said:
The initial validators for Ronin include gaming giant Ubisoft, cryptocurrency exchange Binance, NFT bulwark Nonfungible.com, Animoca Brands, and Sparq.
The Medium post noted that Ubisoft has assisted the Axie Infinity team ever since it joined the large gaming company’s Entrepreneur Labs Program and that Ubisoft’s advice and feedback has been critical in the development of Axie Infinity.
Axie Infinity has worked closely with Binance for the initial exchange offering of AXS.
Nonfungible.com is a data provider focused solely on NFTs and maintains the largest database of blockchain gaming and crypto collectible markets.
Animoca Brands has participated in a seed funding round for Axie Infinity in 2019.
Sparq has experience running validators, a key participant in the AXS strategic sale, and has helped the Axie Infinity team build the Philippine community.
Check out the testnet here.
This article is first published on BitPinas: Axie Infinity Names Ubisoft, Binance as Initial Validator for Ronin Sidechain
Disclosure: The author of this article holds a small amount of AXS as material for research on governance tokens. Additionally, over the course of regularly playing Axie Infinity, the author naturally holds SLP, which is earned when winning battles in the game.