As an investor dedicated to driving the mass adoption of Web3, we are delighted to see the partnership between two of Newman Capital's portfolio companies - Immutable X and Polygon. This partnership will allow Immutable X to roll out their zkEVM solution through Polygon, further solidifying their commitment to providing a gamer-friendly experience for developers, as gaming has been gradually becoming one of the major driving forces for Web3 adoption. This article explains how the technologies behind the two will benefit developers and gamers in the long run and why it's essential for Web3's mass adoption.
Immutable X Overview
Immutable X saw the fastest-growing curve for Web3 gaming in 2022. One of the biggest challenges facing blockchain gaming is the high transaction cost. With traditional blockchain solutions, every action in a game, such as buying, selling, or trading items, requires a transaction on the blockchain, which can be expensive due to high gas fees. Immutable X solves this problem by providing instant, gas-free transactions for players, making it possible to create more engaging and immersive game experiences without worrying about the cost.
Immutable X resolves several significant issues that have plagued the NFT and P2E space, such as high gas prices, scalability & security issues. It aims to improve both the experience of users and developers by offering seamless gameplay, lightning-fast transaction speeds, and gas-free, fully carbon-neutral NFT minting. IMX wallets also accept credit card purchases, lowering the entry barrier to the market for mainstream players significantly. It's no secret that many NFT blockchain games aim for the mainstream market. A sizable audience of casual gamers still needs to be active on Web3. Game creators are taking the chance to cash in on this booming market, migrating to the IMX ecosystem due to a few reasons:
Massive speed and responsiveness
Pay with credit card
No need to hold tokens to pay for gas
Some of the prominent games built on IMX include:
GODS UNCHAINED: The strategic card game Gods Unchained has over 450,000 registered users. The former director of Magic, the Gathering's card game, is working on it.
GUILD OF GUARDIANS: The fantasy action RPG game has a player base of over 300,000. More than $24 million in NFTs have been purchased since the release; it has also formed alliances with prominent game firms The Sandbox and Ubisoft.
ILLUVIUM: A Play-to-Earn take on the classic role-playing game adventure genre with AAA production values.
EMBER SWORD: A Social Sandbox MMORPG taking place in a player-driven universe where the adventure finds you with more than 70,000 players.
Other companies building on Immutable X include GameStop, TikTok, Opensea, GreenPark Sports, and Gary Vee (Vee Friends).
Technology of Immutable X
Immutable X is an L2 scaling solution for non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on Ethereum, with instant trading, massive scalability, and zero gas fees for minting and trading with shared security with the Ethereum mainnet.
Immutable X is developed with StarkWare's STARK prover and rollup technology. It currently uses StarkWare's implementation of zk-rollups technology to batch transactions off-chain and submit a validity proof generated by the zk technology as a statement that the transactions were executed correctly. This allows for faster and cheaper transactions, as most of the computation is done off-chain.
On March 20, 2023, Immutable announced the strategic partnership with Polygon to kickstart Immutable zkEVM, a new EVM-compatible zk rollup powered by Polygon technology. We will briefly explain zkEVM and why it is important for Immutable X.
What is zk-EVM?
Source: Miden VM
ZkEVM is a specialized solution that aims to run the entire Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) on Layer-2. It runs on the same concept as zero-knowledge proofs, which allow a party to prove a statement's validity without revealing any information about it. A zkEVM is EVM compatible, meaning developers can use the same programming languages to create zkEVM-based smart contracts. It adds an additional layer of privacy and security by using zero-knowledge proofs to ensure that sensitive information is not leaked to unauthorized parties.
Zero-Knowledge proofs (zk-proofs) require an “algebraic circuit” of the computational statement they are proving. These algebraic circuits can be turned into a proof system like SNARK (Scalable Non-Interactive Argument of Knowledge) or STARK (Scalable Transparent Argument of Knowledge). These proof systems produce succinct proofs that can be verified quickly, even for extensive computations, thus completing the zero-knowledge rollup for a batch.
ZkEVM allows for more complex smart contracts to be deployed on Layer 2. In addition, since zKEVM uses an EVM-compatible execution environment, it can support the same programming languages and libraries as Ethereum's mainnet, making it easier for developers to port their applications to Layer 2.
ZkEVM also supports more intricate state transitions. zkEVM can support state transitions involving more complex logic and dependencies between various transactions because it uses zero-knowledge proofs to validate the validity of transactions.
Vitalik Buterin’s zkEVM analysis framework:
Source: Vitalik Buterins’s Blog
Vitalik Buterin has identified 4 or 5 types of zkEVM frameworks, where type 1 is “Fully Ethereum-equivalent” to type 4 is “high-level-language-equivalent.” Each type listed above has its benefits: as we go higher in number, Ethereum compatibility decreases with a faster execution time.There are a few ways to construct such EVMs that can perform the above procedures. Let's discuss one of the most popular platforms that have its zkEVM.
IMX is now on Polygon zkEVM
Polygon is a Layer 2 scaling solution for Ethereum that aims to address the high fees and slow transaction speeds on the Ethereum network. It is a sidechain connected to the Ethereum network, allowing faster and cheaper transactions to be processed. Polygon zkEVM is a recent addition to the polygon ecosystem, which combines the Ethereum Virtual Machine with zero-knowledge proofs (ZKPs).
Polygon’s approach on zkEVM is to create a custom virtual machine (VM) for generating the zero-knowledge proofs and provide opcode support which converts EVM bytecode directly into bytecode for your VM.
This approach is termed an “opcode-based approach” with its core challenge being recreating every EVM opcode in their virtual machine to convert the code base from EVM bytecode to zkASM (zero-knowledge assembly code). These zkASM opcodes are executed in the VM, generating a STARK proof. These proofs are faster to generate but bigger in size.
So instead of submitting these on-chain, a SNARK proof is submitted, which attests to the correctness of STARK proofs. The above classification categorizes Polygon as a type 2-3. With faster proof generation, we have a zkEVM that is EVM compatible.
Benefit of using the IMX / Polygon zkEVM
The Immutable X/Polygon zkEVM offers many benefits for the gaming industry, making it an ideal choice for developers creating highly scalable and secure gaming experiences. As it is Ethereum compatible, developers can seamlessly leverage existing developer kits and established tools to build cutting-edge decentralized applications (dApps) without learning a new ecosystem from scratch. This compatibility is further bolstered by a staggering 90% reduction in transaction costs compared to traditional Ethereum platforms, allowing the zkEVM to handle up to 2,000 transactions per second (TPS), significantly improving scalability, and accommodating the growing demands of the gaming industry.
Moreover, the zkEVM facilitates the deployment of more complex and sophisticated code, satisfying the ever-evolving needs of developers in creating immersive and interactive gaming experiences. This feature enables the development of advanced in-game mechanics, economies, and virtual worlds, fostering innovation and pushing the boundaries of what is possible in decentralized gaming.
Privacy is also a key advantage of the zkEVM. The zero-knowledge proofs integrated into the platform ensure that sensitive information remains confidential while still allowing for the verification of statements. This improved privacy is crucial in gaming, as it protects player identities, in-game assets, and transactional data, fostering trust and security within the gaming community.
Lastly, provable smart contracts are another notable feature of the zkEVM. These smart contracts minimize the risk of bugs and vulnerabilities in the code, bolstering the overall security and reliability of the gaming applications built on this innovative technology. Provable smart contracts also enhance the transparency and auditability of in-game transactions and mechanics, ensuring that games operate fairly and under their intended design.
ZkEVM could change the way developers and gamers use Ethereum. Zero-knowledge proofs give developers additional security and protection for the smart contracts deployed and the user data stored, which is important for many applications. The lower gas fees and scalability make it affordable and beneficial for developers and gamers.
Gamers can have ownership of their in-game assets which can also be used to make decisions when smart contracts enable new gaming experiences like decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs). Moreover, the Data Availability layer on the zkEVM with Validium mode can provide much cheaper storage and data privacy which will not be published publicly on Ethereum but instead on DAC (Data availability committee).
The Data Availability layer on the zkEVM with Validium mode can provide cheaper storage and data privacy that will not be published on Ethereum but on DAC (Data availability committee), which consist of reputable parties like ConsenSys, Chainstack, and Starkware.
Disclaimer: This material has been shared solely for information purposes, and must not be relied upon for the purpose of entering into any transaction nor investment. Newman Capital is not an investment adviser, and is not purporting to provide you with investment, legal or tax advice. You are always advised to DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH before making any investment decision. Newman Capital is an investor in Immutable X and Polygon.