A Pokemon-inspired digital pet universe that has grown to be the most-played game on Ethereum is testing new ways to scale.
Announced Wednesday, Axie Infinity has launched the public testnet of its Ronin sidechain. The new sidechain will “give us room to breathe and scale even faster,” co-founder Jeffrey Zirlin said in an interview. “We’ve shown that we can grow quickly on Ethereum and we think that we can grow even faster on a sidechain.”
The non-fungible token (NFT) game has over 18,000 monthly active users, according to data site DappRadar.
“A Ronin was a samurai without a master in feudal Japan,” the firm wrote in a blog post. “Ronin represents our desire to take the destiny of our product into our own hands.”
CryptoKitties maker Dapper Labs faced a similar inflection point after launching on Ethereum and decided to build their own blockchain, Flow, in 2019.
Paris-based video game giant Ubisoft is Ronin’s inaugural validator.
“Validators are responsible for authoring and validating blocks, updating price oracles, and approving deposits and transfers of assets (ETH, ERC20, and ERC721) to and from Ronin,” Axie Infinity wrote. “Validators also control the addition and removal of other validators.”
Ubisoft has advised other popular blockchain games like fantasy football game Sorare and collectible trading card game Splinterlands.
“Blockchain gaming is like a special type of battery that can power different types of games,” Zirlin said, using electric-car maker Tesla as an analogy. “It’s been really helpful to have veterans [Ubisoft] to pass down their knowledge.”
Along with the testnet release, Axie Infinity is also announcing a bug bounty program. Developers who flag critical issues in Ronin can earn rewards as high as $2,000.
The Ronin public testnet will run until Jan. 18, when Axie Infinity’s new land system and related items will migrate over from its current sidechain, Loom Network. (When CryptoWars left Loom earlier this year, we reported the sidechain seemed to be pivoting away from gaming altogether.)
Later on, Zirlin said, Axies on the Ethereum mainnet will move to Ronin as well.