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4/10/2024

Introducing Immutable Nexus - The Ecosystem of Gaming Chains

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TL;DR

The interest in Immutable from the gaming industry has increased significantly since announcing Immutable zkEVM, powered by Polygon. While we’re currently focused on landing the Immutable zkEVM Mainnet in the market, we also recognize that many AAA game studios require their own chain due to the size of their games, the amount of transaction volume they expect to generate, and the level of customization they require. 

That’s why we’re incredibly excited to announce that Immutable will be offering Dedicated zkEVM chains with complete Immutable platform support. These game-specific chains, alongside the public Immutable zkEVM blockchain, a shared liquidity service, and a network of partners, will form Immutable Nexus - an ecosystem of chains with shared liquidity, accessibility, and security. 

What is Immutable Nexus?

Immutable Nexus is a system of interconnected blockchains consisting of the public Immutable zkEVM chain plus all of the Dedicated zkEVM chains on Immutable. Each Dedicated zkEVM chain will feature the same tech stack as Immutable zkEVM, but will offer unique customization options to meet specific game studio requirements. These options include dedicated block space, the ability to configure native ERC-20s for gas and staking, and turnkey blockchain hosting. 

Additionally, Immutable Nexus will include a set of ecosystem partners and a cross-chain liquidity service to ensure these chains are not operating in a silo and games can share in the powerful network effects that Immutable offers. The ecosystem partners (marketplaces, on-ramps, etc.) will enable consistent functionality across chains and empower games with critical services to fuel their economies. On the other hand, the liquidity service represents the set of APIs that move funds between all of the chains within Immutable Nexus, enabling users to have a simple, single balance in their wallets and lightening fast transfers between chains.

Chart showing what Immutable is building including Nexus

To onboard millions of players, we’re building an environment where players won’t even know they’re transacting across multiple chains: aggregated balances, no visible bridging, seamless interactions with contracts on other chains, and more. This unification of experience and liquidity across many chains is Immutable Nexus.

Why Immutable Nexus?

Immutable is more than just a layer 2 scaling solution or a suite of gaming products, it’s an ecosystem designed specifically to help games thrive. Therefore, we’re in a unique position where we can offer games exactly what they need at each part of the tech stack, from player onboarding solutions to game-specific blockchains, and save games from having to avoid identifying, sourcing, and maintaining different product integrations and partner relationships along their development journey. 

While Immutable zkEVM will be the right choice for the vast majority of game studios, more and more AAA game studios are expressing interest in operating their own chain. In order to support their needs, we’re making it easy for game studios to create their own zkEVM gaming chains. However, we also recognize the importance of enabling consistent user experiences, shared liquidity, and a secure development environment. 

For example, deploying your application on a blockchain is like opening a store in a city. If you choose a large city, you’ll have a small share of a larger market. If you start your own city in an attempt to dominate market share, you’ll have to do a lot of heavy lifting to acquire customers. Put simply, you shouldn’t create your own city to open a department store without high confidence that you could attract enough residents to make your store profitable.

chart showing how the liquidity service makes web3 gaming easy

Why choose a Dedicated zkEVM chain for your game?

When selecting where to build, there are generally three primary variables being considered: scalability, customizability, and monetization.

  1. Scalability - Scale is a frequent motivator for most studios considering app chains - if you are consistently exceeding the capacity of a public blockchain, the only short-term fix is horizontal scaling. As the only actor on this new chain, you won’t have to compete with anyone else for blockspace. Additionally, you can customize the validator set (i.e. fewer validators using better hardware), improving scale at the cost of decentralization.
  2. Customisation & Control - Running your own blockchain grants you significant customization opportunities, including:
    1. Validator set, block size, block period, gas token
    2. Sequencing (e.g. enforcing sanctions restrictions at the RPC layer)
    3. Security mechanisms (e.g. L1/L2/L3, data availability, zk proof period)
  3. Monetization - The ability to influence the native token is another option when operating your own chain. The additional utility this can give your token has been a core motivator for many teams announcing app chains. Using custom ERC-20s for gas and staking represents a significant monetization opportunity.
chart showing variables when choosing a dedicated zkEVM chain

Conclusion

Immutable Nexus ensures that games building on Immutable blockchains, regardless if it’s Immutable zkEVM or a Dedicated zkEVM, receive optimal liquidity, security, and accessibility. Dedicated zkEVM chains will allow Immutable to support the largest game studios in the world while maintaining product interoperability across all games building on Immutable. 

Ultimately, we encourage games to treat their choice of chain like any other technology choice - deeply assess the tradeoffs, and don’t optimize for the end game too early. In our experience, most games do not struggle because they run into scale limits on rollups, or because they couldn’t make a minor customization change to their underlying chain - they struggle because of UX challenges or their game not retaining players. For most games, the engineering resources and time they’d spend setting up a new chain would be better invested in building a better game. 

The recommendation we’ve made to many games is to start by building in a shared environment, and then to migrate all or part of your game to a Dedicated zkEVM when and if you actually need the scale or customization. By building with Immutable, you’ll be able to migrate without losing your connection to the best marketplaces, wallets, and ecosystem in web3 gaming. 

If you need help navigating the complexity of choosing blockchain infrastructure for your game, please reach out to the Immutable team.

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