Immutable: For Gamers, By Gamers

Sun Lee
Research Analyst/
Aug 09, 2023

Translated by Lani Oh

Table of Contents

1. Immutable, a Platform Built for Gamers

2. Why Do Game Developers Choose Immutable?

3. Immutable’s Growing Ecosystem

4. Immutable Continues to BUIDL

5. zkEVM Launch Looks Set to Expand the Ecosystem


1. Immutable, a Platform Built for Gamers

For a game’s success, advanced infrastructure is just as crucial as the entertainment it offers. The gaming industry has strived to keep up with the pace of technological advancements and maximize growth within the limits of available resources. This is also true for blockchain games, where technological advancements are constantly introduced to improve user-friendliness. These efforts are visible in both protocol-level enhancements, such as scalability and security, and platform-level enhancements, such as wallets and marketplaces. In particular, since the CryptoKitties’ immense popularity and subsequent congestion on Ethereum in late 2017 highlighted a scalability challenge, developers sought more scalable alternatives, giving rise to game infrastructure projects like Immutable.

Immutable is a leading Web 3 gaming project, a platform that simplifies Web 3 game creation with pre-built solutions. The performance numbers of games released after the mainnet launch in April 2021, such as Gods Unchained and Illuvium, have remained on a high note. Immutable’s growth is evident, marked by a series of partnerships with major Web 2 players, most prominently, Gamestop, VeVe, Disney, and Tik Tok. While the majority of blockchain game funding in 2022 went to Ethereum, Immutable, and Polygon, crypto VCs and game developers are betting big on Immutable's success.

So why do Web 2 and Web 3 companies lean towards Immutable? Developer interviews shed light on the advantages that draw them to the platform. In this article, we'll take a look at the strengths of Immutable and briefly explore how its recent developments will shape its ecosystem in the coming years.


2. Why Do Game Developers Choose Immutable?

So what makes Immutable the go-to option for game developers? Immutable is an Ethereum-based NFT minting/trading zk-rollup protocol launched in April 2021. Much to the benefit of developers, it employs Starkware's ZK-STARK technology to offer i) high scalability of over 9,000 TPS, ii) robust security, and iii) integrated liquidity across games.

Advantage 1: High Scalability and Gasless NFT Minting and Trading

Immutable emerged in 2021 to solve a significant challenge that plagued the Ethereum NFT ecosystem. On Ethereum, only 3-5 NFT transactions could be processed per second, and NFT fees were notably high. Immutable takes a different approach by not charging gas fees for NFT issuance and transaction.  It has achieved substantial scalability of over 9,000 TPS through zkRollup. The scalability of 9,000 TPS is substantially higher than other mainnets, giving it a firmer footing to accommodate higher transaction volumes potentially resulting from a larger number of game players in the future.

Game developers are keen on ensuring smooth transaction processing, especially when a large number of players come aboard. Immutable's scalability becomes a substantial advantage in this regard. Moreover, the absence of gas requirements for  NFT trading on Immutable simplifies onboarding for players unfamiliar with Web 3 transactions. Indeed, many game developers who have opted for Immutable, such as Ember Sword and Deviants Faction, cite its scalability, gasless NFT trading, and heightened user experience as the platform’s foremost strengths.

Advantage 2: ZK Rollup’s Robust Security

The security aspect of ZK Rollup might also have caught the attention of game developers. Some gaming projects have opted to launch their own blockchains or sidechains as a means to enhance the scalability limitations of Ethereum. However, these alternatives do not inherit the security of Ethereum, making them less secure and decentralized than Ethereum. What independent blockchains or sidechains usually employ to transfer assets to Ethereum is a bridge, which has raised security concerns after a series of exploits. A prime illustration is Axe Infinity’s Ronin sidechain. In March 2022, over $600 million was stolen in a hack on the Ronin bridge connecting the Ronin chain and Ethereum. Consequently, the price of AXS plummeted by over 73% from $64 to $17, dealing a major blow to the ecosystem. Unlike Web 2 games, Web 3 games allow users to take ownership of and trade their game assets, making secure custody of user assets a pressing need.

Immutable places its faith in the Ethereum ecosystem’s network effect. Rather than launching its own blockchain or sidechain for scalability enhancements, the company built its platform around zkRollup technology, inheriting Ethereum's security properties. Unlike optimistic rollups, which require 1-2 weeks for withdrawals, zkRollup employs Proof of Validity to enable instant withdrawals. Ultimately, game developers desiring a link to the Ethereum ecosystem while seeking a scalable solution have gravitated towards Immutable, and the platform fit the bill.

Advantage 3: Protocol Order Book Integrating Liquidity

As technology advances, other rookie chains may emerge with high scalability and security like Immutable. Nonetheless, even if superior technology emerges, users are unlikely to switch from one chain to another unless there are particular advantages. This is due to the network effect. The effect is more pronounced as more users are onboarded. This underscores the importance of initial user onboarding, a focus that Immutable showcased with the launch of proprietary games like Gods Unchained.

Immutable is also providing integrated liquidity across games by introducing an order book feature built at the protocol level. This feature allows gamers’ orders to buy or sell an asset on one NFT marketplace to be listed on all NFT marketplaces powered by Immutable. These marketplaces span the U.S. and Canada, including the NFT marketplace of U.S. video game retailer GameStop, and those featuring games registered on Immutable. The listing of NFTs from newly introduced games on existing game NFT marketplaces is a strong marketing advantage as it obviously increases their exposure. This cross-game liquidity consolidation holds particular appeal to new developers.

Thanks to the protocol order book, gaming NFT trading volume and revenue (as a percentage of trading volume is recognized as revenue) doubled year-over-year in 2022. As the ecosystem grows, the ensuing network effect is anticipated to boost liquidity integration even further.


3. Immutable’s Growing Ecosystem

3-1. On-Chain Data Demonstrating Vibrant Platform Activity

Building upon the advantages mentioned earlier, Immutable has onboarded games like Gods Unchained and Illuvium, both of which are generating steady revenue. Immutable’s revenue dropped significantly in Q2 2022 after it reached around $1M in December 2021, but has since recovered, generating  $500K in revenue over the past year. Since Immutable recognizes 2% of NFT trading volume as revenue, this also indicates a high level of activity on the Immutable platform.

Since the launch of the IMX token, transactions have steadily been on the rise, as has the number of holders. Notably, spikes in transactions have coincided with the launch of high-profile games or NFTs and brought new holders to the platform. The latest surge in transactions occurred on July 31, when the RPG game Ember Sword launched its Alpha Land Sale. Ember Sword has garnered a lot of attention, with 12,000 players from over 50 countries participating in the alpha playtest alone.

In addition to Ember Sword, Cross the Ages is a Web3 game that has also proven popular in Web2, ranking #1 in the French App Store for strategy games and staying in the top 5 for over 4 weeks straight. Immutable is constantly onboarding fun games to bring new users into the ecosystem.

3-2. 150+ Games Onboarded

The aforementioned advantages have been conducive to onboarding numerous games to its platform, including its own Web3 games. In addition to Web 3 games, Immutable has also partnered with leading Web 2 companies such as GameStop, Warner Games, iLogos, and Mineloader to onboard Web 2 games to the platform. These additions include IMVU, boasting 7 million monthly active users, Cross the Age, clinching the 1st spot in the App Store, Undead Block, Kiraverse (Beta), Aglet, and Immortal Game.