zilliqa blockchain gaming

I believe gaming will be one of the first major breakthroughs of blockchain technology. We already saw the first hints of a breakout when Cryptokitties took the blockchain world by storm in late 2017. So much so that it nearly brought down the Ethereum blockchain.

The ability to own and trade one-of-a-kind digital items makes blockchain gaming a truly unique proposition. Couple that with virtual reality worlds and secure blockchain technology; it’s a revolution waiting to happen.

But there’s a problem. No blockchain platform is yet powerful enough to support high-quality games and millions of users.

Ethereum is the obvious candidate, but as we saw with Cryptokitties, there are serious issues with scaling. Ethereum ground to a halt when too many users flooded the system. The Ethereum scaling roadmap now extends to 2025 to address these issues.

So what else is out there? Zilliqa.

Zilliqa has the potential to scale significantly faster than Ethereum, and the team is putting gaming at the heart of their mission. I spoke to Xinshu Dong, CEO and co-founder of Zilliqa to find out more. First things first:

What is Zilliqa?

Zilliqa is a blockchain platform similar in focus to Ethereum. It gives developers a platform to build games, decentralized apps (dApps), and projects. The key difference to Ethereum is speed and throughput. Zilliiqa can handle 2,828 transactions per second compared to Ethereum’s 15-30.

xinshu dong zilliqaIn Xinshu’s words, “Zilliqa is an open, high-performance, high-security blockchain platform. We aim to make decentralized blockchains the building block of future applications while tackling the limitations in scalability and security in order to enable real-world usability across a variety of industries.”

Why has progress been slow in blockchain gaming?

There are a handful of innovative blockchain games out there right now. But we’re a long way from seeing anything as ambitious as Fortnite or League of Legends on a blockchain. The main reasons for this, Xinshu explains, is “poor user experience (UX) and a lack of concrete user value-add.”

The issue is also rooted in a lack of technology on which to build blockchain games. “It is difficult for developers to fully address this without a stronger tech stack to enable a better user experience.”

Zilliqa aims to fix these issues by establishing a platform that is friendly for gamers to use and powerful enough for developers to build ambitious games upon.

Zilliqa blockchain gaming

Improving blockchain gaming UX

The problem for gamers starts with a complicated on-ramp. To play blockchain games, you often need to download a browser extension and load up a wallet with the correct cryptocurrency.

“Gamers are confronted with high barriers to entry,” Xinshu says, “due to a complex setup process, such as getting a wallet and an upfront cost to pay for gas fees. This becomes a deterrent for new gamers in the space.”

The games themselves are often slow and cumbersome due to the low transaction rates on Ethereum. 

“Blockchain games are slow and the lack of immediate finality results in users waiting for their transactions to finalize, which can often take a few minutes. When compared to mobile, PC, or console games, this is a poor gaming experience. Zilliqa’s higher transaction throughput and lower gas fee can help to address some of these issues. We’re also exploring features that can help developers design more user-friendly games, such as the ability to offset gas fees to developers rather than to users.”

Blockchain Games Leave Ethereum For Zilliqa

Zilliqa made headlines in the crypto world last year for luring the popular game Etheremon away from its home on Ethereum. I ask Xinshu why Zilliqa is a better fit.

Etheremon zilliqa

Etheremon, a decentralized app built on the Ethereum network, experienced high gas fees and transaction congestion due to scalability issues. This led to poor UX for users and Etheremon was forced to move the in-game battles off the blockchain, demonstrating the structural limitations of existing infrastructure and the need for alternative, innovative solutions.”

Zilliqa’s faster platform provides an instant UX boost for gamers and developers. However, speed, UX, and decentralization is just the first step. For blockchain games to truly take off, Xinshu admits, we need a killer game.

“Games Need to be Fun”

“While some gamers may be attracted to the decentralized manner of buying and selling items within the game, ultimately, the game needs to be fun to attract gamers. If the game is not in high demand, to begin with, the items themselves will have little value.

“As a whole, blockchain gaming needs to be designed from the ground-up to maximize the value-add of blockchain as opposed to copying existing mobile gaming paradigms. Zilliqa is actively looking to partner with game developers who are committed to this, and we strive to provide technical solutions to support them.”

Could Virtual Reality Be The Answer?

One of Zilliqa’s partners in the gaming world is Decentraland; a virtual reality platform that supports games and even virtual real estate. Xinshu tells me more about the potential of virtual reality’s interplay with blockchain.

Decentraland-Review-The-Blockchain-Virtual-World
Decentraland: a vast virtual reality world on the blockchain

“VR is one of the areas of gaming that has strong synergies with blockchain. In games where users can create their own items, artwork, and worlds, giving them ownership through the blockchain makes a lot of sense –– for example, Cubego, the new game by the Etheremon team, emphasizes user generated content. 

“When looking at the entirety of the virtual world on a blockchain, there’s an immutable record of ownership when a user creates these items and eventually, creations can be traded and monetized safely. Although it’s possible to do all of this in a centralized manner, the decentralized nature of building a virtual world on blockchain can breed a stronger sense of community and ownership across the members of that world.”

Let’s get technical…

So far, we’ve addressed Zilliqa’s commitment to the gaming industry. But how does the technology work behind the scenes?

“Zilliqa uses sharding to attain greater scalability while maintaining high standards of security. Our entire mining network is divided into multiple consensus groups – shards – that are capable of processing transactions in parallel. Our network also allows for on-chain linear scalability – this means that as the network grows and the number of nodes increases, the faster our network runs. Though we are able to attain a higher transaction throughput, this does not occur at the expense of the number of nodes available to process transactions.”

Zilliqa sharding
Zilliqa is one of the first to implement experimental sharding technology to achieve huge throughput

Sharding: Zilliqa’s silver bullet for scaling

Zilliqa’s technical solution to high speeds and lower fees is sharding. Sharding is also being explored by Ethereum’s development team, but Zilliqa will likely be the first blockchain to implement the technology.

In simple terms, sharding partitions the blockchain into smaller “shards” in a bid to relieve congestion. It’s one of many proposed solutions for scaling blockchains. But why did Zilliqa put sharding at the heart of its technology?

“We’ve found that sharding is a viable layer 1 solution that allows us to strike a balance between decentralization, security, and scalability. Security is a priority for us and preserving decentralization ensures that our blockchain is secure through the consensus of public opt-in nodes and offers third-party censorship resistance of transactions. By opting for a layer 1 scaling solution, we’re able to scale securely as the blockchain operates with the full security guarantee provided by itself. Moreover, scaling on layer 1 will allow us to explore more solutions for layer 2 scaling further down the line.

Though we believe that sharding is currently one of the best options to tackle the scalability problem, we intend to continue to innovate beyond that as we develop our platform.”

What’s next for Zilliqa?

Zilliqa’s mainnet is scheduled to go live on 31st January. A successful launch could lure even more dApps and game developers to the platform. As Xinshu explains, gaming is just one industry on the platform’s roadmap.

“In general, Zilliqa wants to enable any DApps that can bring a strong user value-add, realize the true potential of blockchain, and benefit from our high throughput platform. We also want to focus heavily on use cases, specifically in digital advertising through our partnership with Mindshare, and in financial services and insurance. 

A strong user experience with low barriers to entry coupled with a clear, concrete user value-add, will help to make DApps more popular among mainstream audiences.”

Zilliqa’s mainnet launches on 31st January.

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best blockchain games

Edit: this list of blockchain games was updated on January 11, 2019, to include new developments in blockchain gaming.

Blockchain games are nowhere near as ambitious as Fortnite or Skyrim or Call of Duty. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t huge innovations in the works. Blockchain gaming, while exciting, is still in its infancy, often based around collectibles (you’ve all heard of Cryptokitties, right?) Our aim is to begin tracking the world of blockchain gaming as it develops and see what new ideas are out there. Delton Rhodes explores. 

What Are Blockchain Games?

As the name suggests, blockchain games are any games that use blockchain technology to power some or all of the gameplay. 

It might be as simple as storing gaming items on a blockchain,  often Ethereum. Or as vast as building an entire blockchain gaming universe (see Decentraland and CryptoSpaceX below). 

Why Blockchain Games vs. Traditional Games?

Blockchain games are considered more transparent and secure than traditional games. In traditional games, everything is stored on the gaming company’s servers. 

With blockchain games, your items and progress can be stored safely and transparently on a public blockchain. 

For the first time ever, it also means you can own 100% unique digital items. Before blockchain, every digital item (like a weapon or trading card) was just a copy of something else. 

Now you can truly own something digital in a game – which opens up tons of new gaming and collectible options.

Curious? Let’s dive into some of the best early blockchain games out there.

Top Blockchain Games

The following are some of the best blockchain games out there (or in development). Some of the games in this list can’t be considered true blockchain games in the sense that they don’t yet rely solely upon blockchain technology. However, many in this list do utilize blockchain for every aspect of gameplay.

Age of Rust

Age of Rust blockchain game

Age of Rust is a dark sci-fi adventure game set in the vast expanse of the universe in the year 4424. In the game, you can explore abandoned space stations, mysterious caverns, and ruins on far away worlds. You can unlock puzzles and secrets throughout.

One of Age of Rust’s most innovative features is its blockchain-based peer-to-peer rental market that allows anyone to rent in-game assets for specified periods of time. 

The anticipated launch date for Age of Rust is late 2019, meaning it will have undergone two years of development. 

SpacePirate Games, the creators of this game, have already released a text-adventure version of Age of Rust which features Rustbits as the in-game currency. The beta version of Age of Rust offers the equivalent of four BTC in prizes. Eventually, Rustbits will be converted to ERC-1155 tokens using Enjin Coin’s smart contract to enable this functionality.

How to play: On PC when it’s released next year

No Man’s Sky

No Man's Sky crypto gaming

Okay, so this isn’t technically a blockchain game, but it does have a unique cryptocurrency twist…

No Man’s Sky contains an enormous universe for gamers. This game includes 18 quintillion randomly-generated planets for players to explore. Since the game launched in 2016, the creators have continuously added new features like base building, better ship customization, and improved graphics.

In 2018, No Man’s Sky also added multiplayer functionality. The game is available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.

Although this is not technically a blockchain game, it does have in-game cryptocurrency rewards. What’s most interesting, though, is that the game’s creators didn’t add this. Instead, two avid fans (Jon Creasy and his brother) hid two clues in separate locations within the game.

The first player who can find both will have the ability to access the secret phrase (seed) needed to unlock a wallet containing around $30 worth of BTC.

How to play: purchase for PS4, XBox One, and PC

Gods Unchained

Gods Unchained

Gods Unchained, mentioned in our recent article about dapps, continues to gain attention from gamers.  According to the project website, Gods Unchained is the first-ever blockchain esport. This game has a multiplayer mode where users can battle each other as well as trade, sell, and store gaming cards. 

According to the future roadmap, there will be a Gods Unchained world championship sometime in the near future. As of November 13, 2018, around $370,000 has been raised for this event. 

Gods Unchained just released a trailer to show us what the action will look like:

How to play: start by purchasing cards online (requires Meta Mask to access and ether to make purchases)

CryptoSpaceX

CryptoSpaceX blockchain game

CryptoSpaceX is a game where you can explore the universe. The game is built on the blockchain, and all in-game elements are assigned digital ownership to the players.

Users can engage in detailed and strategic planet vs. planet battles to loot stardust. With this game, you can also build new starships as well as upgrade and customize your star fleet.

Players can also compete in various challenges and tournaments in a special arena and travel to Vegastar (built in the Fabula galaxy) to win special prizes.

Episode I of the game launched in June 2018. Episode II is expected to be ready to launch by December 2018. According to the project website, the game will eventually include support for mobile gaming functionality.

CryptoSpaceX is unique due to its extreme scarcity of tokens. While similar games might have millions or even billions and claim to be scarce, CryptoSpaceX will only ever have 4000 SpaceX tokens. 3,700 were available in the presale which ended in Ju

ne 2018; however, only 773 were sold then. To avoid centralization of the token supply, each user was limited to a maximum of 10 SpaceX tokens.

How to play: As part of Episode I, purchase starships online (requires MetaMask)

CubeGo

CubeGo

CubeGo is a game in which you can use 3D building blocks to build your very own personalized 3D models called Cubegon. 

The mission of this game is to enable players to ignite their creativity and imagination by building 3D characters. According to the project website, “They will be the soldiers standing by your side in the face of all adversary and earning you significant rewards.” 

With CubeGo, as with most blockchain games, you have full ownership of your creations. Similar to collectible games, each Cubegon (3D model) is unique. The game even provides blockchain-backed copyright ownership for creators. 

CubeGo players can use arenas as the playground for demonstrating the power of their Cubegons through 3D battle experiences. 

The token presale for CubeGo starts on November 24, 2018. In December 2018, CubeGo will launch Cubegon Building & Marketplace. For 2019, there are several anticipated milestones in the future roadmap, including arena opening and ranked battles. This project has established several big partnerships. Some include Kyber Network, Zilliqa, and Coinbase Wallet.

How to play: register for presale

EOS Knights

EOS Knights blockchain mobile game

EOS Knights is the first mobile game (available on iOS and Android) that runs on the EOS blockchain. This game allows users to complete tasks like collecting materials, crafting items, adopting pets, and trading items using EOS. 

Even though the game only launched in September 2018, the team behind it has been busy making a variety of major updates. 

For example, in November 2018, EOS Knights is adding much-improved functionalities like multi-play boss content (four players), additional boss content, six-level Items (Destructive), and set items (new category). 

How to play: download on the Apple App Store or Google Play

Axie Infinity

Axie Infinity

Axie Infinity draws its inspiration from Pokémon and Tamagotchi games. It is a decentralized game that runs on the Ethereum blockchain. Axie Infinity allows you to breed, raise, and battle fantasy creatures known as Axies. 

Similar to other blockchain games, Axie Infinity utilizes scarcity as a key component. The four levels of rarity are Common, Rare, Ultra Rare, and Legendary.

There are more than 500 Axie body parts available, with additional ones being revealed later. Axies’ body and parts are grouped into classes including Beast, Plant, Bug, Bird, Reptile and Aquatic. 

This means the combinations are limitless. Axie Infinity also features a 3v3 battle mode. As of November 13, 2018, there have been close to 11,000 Axies created and over 93,000 battles.

How to play: online (requires Meta Mask)

Decentraland

Decentraland

Decentraland is not a game as such, more a platform for lots of future virtual reality (VR) blockchain games.

Decentraland provides a VR platform for creating, experiencing, and monetizing content and applications. Unlike most projects that are making blockchain VR games a more distant goal, creating a VR world is Decentraland’s main focus.

Decentraland has just partnered with Altitude Games to build Battle Racers – an arcade racing game.

According to the project website, Decentraland users can also go to a casino, watch live music, attend a workshop, shop with friends, start a business, test drive a car, and visit an underwater resort within the game.

Decentraland even provides an SDK (software developer’s kit) that allows anyone to start developing games and applications for the platform.

The Decentraland protocol features three layers: consensus layer, land content layer, and real-time layer. Designers can use SketchUp and/or Blender to create models before importing them to Decentraland. This project has been around since 2015 and uses MANA as its in-game currency.

How to play: start developing games and building virtual worlds online

 

Beyond the Void

Beyond the void blockchain game

Beyond the Void is a unique combination of strategy, action, and one-on-one competitions. This game brings the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) genre with its real-time strategy (RTS) origins back together in outer space.

Beyond the Void uses Nexium (NXC) as its in-game currency. Within the Nexium ecosystem, you can find games developed and/or published by B2Expand (creators of Beyond the Void), a decentralized shop for all in-game items, and Ethereum tools for developers.

B2Expand is actively working to expand collaboration within the blockchain gaming space. One cool fact is that, if you own a Crystalibur ship in Beyond the Void, you also own an Amaranthe card in the Spells of Genesis.

B2Expand also organized the first annual Blockchain Game Summit in Lyon in France in September 2018.

How to play: play on Steam

EtherQuest

Etherquest blockchain game

EtherQuest is a fantasy role-playing game powered by the blockchain. Mighty warriors from multiple worlds clash in a struggle for supremacy. The warriors range in rarity, from “common” to “legendary.” Each rarity type comes with a unique combination of stats and bonuses. 

Game activities include summoning, arena, and tournament. To play this game, you’ll need to have a MetaMask wallet. Luckily, for new players who want to get started learning this game, EtherQuest provides a comprehensive gameplay guide.

How to play: online (requires Meta Mask)

Spells of Genesis

spell_of_genesis blockchain game

Spells of Genesis is a mixture of various game types. It is a trading card game (TCG) that involves deck collection and strategy as well as arcade-style gaming elements. With this game, you can collect, trade, and combine orbs to build the card decks.

Then, you can put your orbs to the test against various opponents while exploring the fantasy realm of Askian.

BitCrystals (BCY) are the digital assets that serve as the game-fuel and the premium in-game currency of Spells of Genesis. 

Compared to other blockchain games, this currency is relatively well-established. The BCY crowdfunding campaign took place back in summer 2015. Spell of Genesis cards are digital assets based on Counterparty, which is a platform that allows developers to create custom tokens for the Bitcoin blockchain.

How to play: on PC, download iOS app, download Android app

FirstBlood

FirstBlood blockchain game

Not a game as such, but FirstBlood is aiming to change the future of esports betting. Most notably, FirstBlood provides a platform for players who want to automate their tournament play and payout distribution. In fact, this blockchain-based platform even automates registration, bracket management, and scorekeeping via technologies like smart contracts and oracles. 

Why is this a significant step forward for esports? Essentially, this platform reduces (or even eliminates) the groundwork involved with launching an esports tournament. This means that FirstBlood can support small tournaments with low buy-ins on any given day as well as large-scale, high-profile competitions. The best thing is that this can all be organized via a trustless environment.

DreamTeam

DreamTeam is another popular option for esports. According to ICObench, “DreamTeam will offer esports player and teams recruitment and management tools for the most popular PC titles CS:GO, LoL, DOTA 2, PUBG, Overwatch and more. Amateurs and professionals can create accounts for players with rankings taken directly from their games.” 

It’s also important to note that every transaction on the platform will eventually require the use of DreamTeam tokens. 

As of November 2018, the DreamTeam platform still hasn’t launched key features like its management tool or the ability for players to earn funds through gameplay. 

Nevertheless, DreamTeam is aiming to use its native token for smart contracts that can facilitate tournament prize payouts as well as paid platform features (i.e. premium accounts). The native token could also potentially be used for other things like buying games, software, hardware and more via the DreamTeam platform.

What’s Next for Blockchain Games?

In the early days of 2019, some big names are entering the world blockchain gaming. Square Enix, the publisher behind Tomb Raider and Final Fantasy, announced it was making blockchain a big part of its strategy this year.

Blockchain project TRON recently announced a $100 million fund to power a blockchain gaming ecosystem. The building blocks are in place.

Conclusion

It might take some time before large-scale applications like real-time video can be powered by blockchain. Therefore, to move popular multiplayer video games like Fortnite into a blockchain-based game, some serious technical advancements would need to be made. 

However, there are already a few companies trying to do just this. For example, MagnaChain is a separate blockchain being developed specifically for video games. The company behind the project claims its network is capable of handling up to 100,000 transactions per second. Earlier in 2018, its testnet handled over 13,000 transactions per second. 

It will be interesting to see how the future of blockchain gaming plays out. Will the user adoption of blockchain games ever surpass that of traditional games? This might be too early to tell. As blockchain scalability increases, we could very well see the emergence these and other innovative blockchain games that offer improved user experiences over traditional games.

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