Game development is going through fundamental changes, with zkEVMs playing a central role this decade. But what are zkEVMs? Join us in this first installment of our series about the revolutionary technology set to change the face of gaming as we know it.
Web3 gaming is at an inflection point.
Most AAA gaming studios have in-house teams currently working on web3 game development. The company behind Eve Online, CCP, has recently raised $40 million dollars to enable the full-scale development of a new AAA web3 game set in the Eve universe.
And 75% of game developers expect to work on web3 games, with over half believing it will revolutionize the gaming industry.
Now, the groundbreaking innovations web3 brings to gaming – decentralization and true ownership – are ready to enter the next phase of web3 game development.
The era of zkEVMs has arrived.
Scaling Web3 Games With Zero-Knowledge
Let’s jog our memory before we dive into zkEVMs. What is zk technology?
If web3 gaming is to fulfill its promise of bringing decentralized games to the masses, it must be able to operate at the scale of games like League of Legends and Fortnite. These games attract millions of players, each carrying numerous game items in their accounts, and making thousands upon thousands of transactions per second.
Ethereum is the current go-to blockchain for web3 gaming, boasting unparalleled security, successfully settling billions of dollars worth of real-world value daily. But that security comes at the cost of scalability, as Ethereum can only process up to 30 transactions per second on average today — nowhere near enough for massive web3 games.
Fortunately, the challenge of scalability has been directly addressed with the use of zero-knowledge (“zk”) rollups. A zk-rollup batches transactions off-chain, only submitting the proof of the transactions to the main network. This dramatically increases transaction capacity into the thousands of transactions per second, significantly lowering transaction fees, while still backed by the robust security Ethereum offers. This technology currently powers Immutable, and we already have over 150 quality games building on our zk-rollup built specifically for gaming.
Unleashing Smart Contracts in Web3 Games with zkEVM
Not every game needs all game mechanics to happen on-chain, nor does every game developer want to work with smart contracts. It’s perfectly fine to build your game and its mechanics on your own game server, while letting Immutable X take care of web3 foundation, such as minting and trading of NFTs, and delivering core benefits like true ownership to players with zero gas fees.
Now with Immutable zkEVM game developers can leverage custom smart contract capabilities, opening up brand new ways for web3 games to be built.
A zkEVM is a zk-rollup that is compatible with the Ethereum smart contract system ("EVM" = Ethereum Virtual Machine). With smart contract support, sophisticated in-game mechanics like crafting, forging, and evolving game items and characters can also all happen verifiably on-chain and secure. English/Dutch auctions, staking and renting/lending also become possible in games built on zkEVMs.
This unlocks a new concept we like to call ‘forever utility’. Because game mechanics and rules are hard-coded into smart contracts, in-game items retain their utility and history in perpetuity, even beyond the game it originated from.
This smart contract compatibility also enables deep interoperability between games. While zk-rollups do allow for interoperability at the asset level, zkEVMs allow for interoperability at the codebase level. Just imagine a vibrant gaming universe where smart contracts are interlinked. In this gaming universe, value circulates between game economies, and players have a stake in each other's game economies by way of this interconnectivity.
Not only that, zkEVMs simplify the web3 game development process. Developers can leverage existing developer kits and tools, easing the transition into web3 game building. Moreover, the support for the same programming languages and libraries as Ethereum's mainnet streamlines the porting of games to trusted EVM-compatible scaling solutions, like Immutable zkEVM.
Immutable zkEVM, powered by Polygon
Most zkEVMS currently operational are generalized solutions. The Immutable zkEVM is built specifically for game development. It is also the first web3 game development platform with enforceable on-chain royalty fees, ensuring game developers can protect and grow their revenue.
By combining Polygon's ground-breaking zero-knowledge technology with Immutable's deep gaming knowledge, orderbook technology, player onboarding solutions, and a community of millions of players, game developers can leave patchwork solutions behind and instead leverage our one-stop-shop for web3 gaming infrastructure.
Join the Revolution
Our laser-focus on building the best full-stack solution for web3 game development has resulted in games building on Immutable receiving over $1 billion in 2022 (making it the number 1 gaming platform outside of Ethereum).
These innovations are why web3 gaming is the fastest growing emerging tech industry in history, garnering the most funding of any category within the blockchain industry.
Over the next few weeks we’ll be diving into zkEVMs and their impact on game development. In the next part of our series, we'll dissect how zkEVMs unlock new game design and mechanics, enabling the dream of truly interoperable sandbox games.
We’re excited to take you down this brand-new tech tree. Will you join us?