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Immutable zkEVM
12/14/2023

Immutable zkEVM is Gas Free for Gamers

A hand turning a switch off with the words "Turn off gas fees for gamers with Immutable"
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TL;DR

Ask any developer about their challenges building web3 games, and the same answer will come up over and over: “gas fees ruin the user experience.” Players have historically been required to pay fees for taking simple in-game actions in order to process and validate these actions on the blockchain. Not only is this a financial burden on players, but it also removes them from the immersive gaming experience. 

Immutable experienced this first hand when we launched Gods Unchained, the first web3 game to succeed in attracting a mainstream audience, in 2018. Ultimately we removed gas fees for gamers on Immutable X and became the first platform to mitigate this friction for users. But we didn’t stop there!

We are incredibly proud to announce that Immutable Passport will be capable of eliminating gas fees for players on Immutable zkEVM, powered by Polygon. All games and marketplaces on Immutable zkEVM will be able to seamlessly sponsor gas fees for Immutable Passport users, with no user disruption. This will make Immutable zkEVM gas free for gamers who use Immutable Passport, significantly reducing the primary point of friction in the user experience. Players will be able to play your game, trade assets, and participate in the game’s economy all without ever being introduced to the concept of gas!

What are gas fees?

Gas measures the amount of computational effort required to execute blockchain transactions, and payment for this computation is the “gas fee.” Unfortunately, gas is a necessary evil to operate smart contract blockchains. In contexts where users expect to pay fees, such as financial applications, gas fees are understandable and manageable.

But when you introduce the idea of paying “computation fees” for in-game behavior (crafting items, opening a loot box, etc.) then both players and developers suffer. What’s worse, the actual cost of gas is dwarfed by the impact on user experience. Imagine asking players to on-ramp this amount of money just to perform an action they don’t think should cost money, in a game they’re unsure they’ll continue playing!

How much will it cost game studios to sponsor gas fees?

In short, not much! First, let’s touch on what Immutable is doing to ensure gas costs remain as low as possible as games scale. Often companies are quick to offer gas relayers without ensuring that they’re making efficient use of gas in the first place. Smaller projects and PFPs can get away with building for 10,000 users, but Immutable is building for millions. Immutable zkEVM will feature advanced gas reduction tooling, like our batch minting functionality. After extensive testing, we’ve made it 98% cheaper to mint 100 assets in a batch vs doing 100 individual mints. 

Our belief is that games should treat the cost of this sponsorship like their traditional server costs. Just as you wouldn’t expect players to cover their own AWS costs, games should sponsor gas fees to remove this friction and convert users into profitable customers through other forms of monetization. With proper game economy design, gas sponsorship can increase player adoption, conversion, and overall revenue for a game studio. As gas fees on Immutable zkEVM will be set at the lowest level possible, this will be economically viable for the vast majority of studios and is highly recommended for games that want to attract a wide variety of players.

Here’s an example of the approximate cost to sponsor gas for a game with 100,000 monthly active players in a month. To estimate the cost of your specific economy, please reach out directly to the Immutable team.

Action Number of Transactions Gas Used Monthly Cost (USD at Nov 14th $IMX price)
Trades (1 per MAU) 100,000 21,500,000,000 $510.70
Transfers (5 per MAU) 500,000 12,508,300,000 $297.11
Mints (5 per MAU) 500,000 1,272,500,000 $30.23
Total Monthly Cost $838.04
Monthly Cost per User $0.008

Our expectation is that gas prices will not rise materially on Immutable zkEVM until more than 50% of the chain’s capacity is being used consistently. Based on the number of studios building on Immutable today, and their corresponding launch timelines, we don’t expect capacity to be an issue.

In the event of a breakout hit beyond that limit, Immutable will be able to use a number of levers to increase the capacity of the chain (e.g. increasing the chain’s gas limit and furthering gas optimizations to common flows). 

How does sponsoring gas fees actually work?

Immutable Passport offers a smart contract wallet on Immutable zkEVM which has been designed for players. Using Passport’s relayer functionality, 3rd parties can sponsor gas for players as follows:

  1. Players sign transactions via their wallets to perform on-chain actions involving assets they own
  2. If the transaction was signed from a Passport wallet, Immutable will validate the transaction against the application's sponsorship configuration
  3. If the 3rd party chooses to sponsor the transaction, Immutable will submit the transaction (gas free for the player) and recoup the cost from counterparty - be it a game studio, marketplace or Immutable themselves.
  4. In order to make their games gas free for players, games can create an account for gas fees through Immutable's Developer Hub, which can be maintained through a variety of funding methods. If the player's transaction is sponsored, the gas costs will be debited from this account.

Games will be able to configure various parameters for their sponsorships. Over time, we will roll out additional tools to help games optimize their spend on gas subsidies, including the ability to choose whether to sponsor on a per-transaction basis and which user behaviors they would like to sponsor, such as crafting, swaps, deposits, and more. Games will also be able use these tools to offer different sponsorship levels to different cohorts or geographies, but we recommend most games sponsor all transactions. 

This gas sponsorship capability doesn’t just apply to games. Marketplaces and other applications will also be able to sponsor gas fees for their users. Our strong recommendation is that they do so, as the reduction in friction and subsequent increase in conversion and marketplace fees will be well worth the minor gas fees. 

In the event of large amounts of spam transactions, applications will be automatically shielded from spiking gas costs through the ability to disable sponsorship and shift gas fees to the users submitting these transactions. Applications will also be able to cap the amount of gas sponsorship per wallet to prevent fraudulent behavior.

What’s the plan for rolling out gas sponsorship?

Initially, Immutable will sponsor gas for Passport users across all applications once Immutable zkEVM Mainnet is live (Q1) to ensure a seamless setup period for games. We will have controls in place to avoid sponsoring spam transactions and ensure the sustainable operation of the chain. 

In Phase 2, games and other applications that choose to sponsor gas will be expected to begin subsidizing the actions of their users. This will be released in phases over time to ensure users continue to have a frictionless experience on Immutable zkEVM. Applications which do not choose to sponsor will still be compatible with Passport (users will be able to see the gas fees they are paying in Passport confirmation screens), though they may be outcompeted by applications which choose to sponsor.

Summary

Immutable is dedicated to solving the largest obstacles preventing web3 games from becoming successful and, by making Immutable zkEVM gas free for gamers, we’re well on our way. Our goal is to combine the seamless user experience that gamers expect with support for smart contracts and compatibility with the entire Ethereum ecosystem, without any compromise to decentralization, self-custody, security or our gaming focus.

Our documentation: docs.immutable.com

Start building: hub.immutable.com

Contact us: immutable.com/contact

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