Immutable, as a company from games to infrastructure, its vision is to support the development of all Web3 games, and the path is to build an L2 that facilitates the trading of game NFT assets . This is exactly what we know as its main product, Immutable X (hereinafter referred to as IMX). In addition, Immutable is also operating a game studio and has the ability to independently produce or publish chain games.
From the perspective of Immutable’s origin and goals, they are all born around Web3 games, but while IMX empowers games, it also empowers all NFT projects, so in actual operation, Immutable has become a “pan-NFT” distribution platform . This article will focus on its infrastructure, IMX, and analyze the advantages and prospects of this game/NFT platform.
Immutable official homepage
IMX is a special L2 public chain with two features that are very friendly to developers and users: on the one hand, the minting/transfer of NFT requires no fees at all, which is different from almost all public chains; on the other hand, IMX provides a REST API interface for developers, developers can deploy NFT on IMX without writing smart contracts, and all malls connected to IMX can share NFT liquidity.
Whether it is for users or developers, IMX provides a very low threshold and provides a foundation for large-scale acquisition of traffic. The following sections will analyze the implementation mechanism of user experience and developer experience from the core designs of the underlying technical solutions, fee distribution, developer tools, and shared order book.
- High-throughput Validium solution
The underlying technology of IMX adopts the customized service of StarkEx, based on the STARK proof system to verify the transaction results, so as to realize the expansion. The advantage of this solution is that it has strong scalability , and the disadvantage is that it does not support general-purpose computing and cannot achieve composability. The IMX team believes that the lack of general computing is not fatal to the NFT ecosystem, so this solution was adopted initially . As you can see, the team has very clear trade-offs for product features.
In terms of capacity expansion, IMX chose the Validium data availability solution with lower cost and higher throughput, which further improved the performance .
Here is a little background information: in all the information packaged by L2, one part is the updated state root, which must be submitted and stored in L1 for node verification, which cannot save gas; the other part is the complete transaction instruction to restore and Verify all transaction history. There are usually two processing schemes for the latter. One is to submit the same to L1, which is more expensive and safer. This is the strict Rollup scheme; the other is to submit to multiple entities under the chain for verification, and the verification is completed. Then submit the signature to L1, which greatly improves performance while sacrificing certain security. In the ZK series expansion scheme, the latter is called “Validium”.
The Validium solution adopted by IMX is also one of the services provided by StarkEx. Transaction instructions are verified off-chain by a multi-party data security committee, including StarkWare, Immutable, DeversiFi, Nethermind, Cephalopod, iqlusion and Consensys. At the same time, the official IMX will act as the only sorter to perform the initial validity verification and sorting of the orders, which also gives IMX a strong control ability and can filter spam transactions. In addition, since the current product does not involve privacy functions, the transaction instruction data is stored on IPFS.
The number of NFTs on IMX is huge, and the Validium model can indeed significantly reduce fees, which is very important to IMX. According to StarkWare’s disclosure, StarkEx is able to use only 17 gas per transaction and <10 gas per NFT minting. If the basic gas fee is 100gwei (not considering the tip to miners for now) and the current price of ETH is $1,700, the single fee for trading and minting NFT is $0.0029 and $0.0017, respectively. At the time StarkWare released this data (April ’21), ~1.5 million assets had been minted on IMX at $3,000, with a single asset of ~$0.002.
Compared to ZK Rollups, even the cheapest Loopring, the simplest ETH transfer costs $0.02. Adopting the Validium model saves at least 10 times the fees of IMX .
In addition, the TPS of IMX is also as high as 9,000, which is much higher than that of ordinary public chains. However, for IMX, since the main scenario is NFT casting and trading, and in-game operations are all performed off-chain, the reduction of handling fees is more important.
It is worth mentioning that IMX is currently integrating StarkNet, that is, it will expand from Validium mode to strict Rollup mode . Although in the initial decision, the team accepted the drawback that the ZK series solution does not support general computing, but in terms of its recent developments, IMX still hopes to provide more possibilities for the game party. The services provided by StarkEx are formulated for each App, and cannot be extended. It must be migrated to StarkNet to develop more complex smart contract functions. Therefore, IMX is expanding from StarkEx services to StarkNet.
The specific method of implementation is: IMX will provide its product suite (order book function, NFT casting tool, mall, etc.) on StarkNet, which is a smart contract written in Cairo, and the project party can use the IMX suite to implement the foundation on StarkNet. NFT minting and trading functions.
Interestingly, IMX suggests that project parties can choose to implement different functions on different chains. Taking Illuvium as an example, land sales are carried out on the L1 mainnet, and functions such as the sale of avatars (Illuvitars) can be realized on IMX provided by StarkEx. Staking and transaction pools will be deployed on StarkNet .
IMX’s integration of StarkNet has opened up a choice path for the project side. On StarkEx, IMX provides low-cost, standardized NFT minting and trading functions; on StarkNet, it sacrifices low-cost features for a higher degree of freedom.
- Fee allocation for value tax
Adopting the solution of storing complete transaction data under the Validium chain greatly reduces the consumption of handling fees, which is an important prerequisite for lowering the threshold for users. On top of this, IMX wraps a layer of fee distribution scheme, providing a policy of “minting/transferring NFT consumes 0 fee” . This approach is very similar to the logic that Web2 products rely on low-price or free strategies to obtain a large amount of traffic, and then convert high ARPU users from it.
The IMX team believes that the behavior of value flow should be used to subsidize the behavior of valueless flow , so for NFT transactions with price, a uniform 2% tax will be charged, and for mint and transfer, the All are subsidized by the platform, and users can complete it for free . Moreover, when charging, just use the transaction token, and users do not need to purchase the platform token $IMX, which provides the greatest convenience. IMX provides free services for casting and transfer by means of macro-control, which undoubtedly expands the user base.
However, this platform tax has only come into effect in 6 years this year, and is only charged at 1% in June, and resumed at 2% in July.
The premise of this typical Web2 subsidy logic is that the difference between revenue and subsidy is positive : that is, relying on the profit of 2% transaction tax, which is greater than the cost of subsidizing the casting/transfer behavior, can the cash flow of the platform be positive and long-term. maintain.
On the subsidy side: the official website shows that 29.8 million NFTs have been minted this year, with an average of 140,000 minted per day. Based on the estimated cost of $0.002 per NFT casting, the average daily cost is $280. The data of NFT transfer is not shown here. No statistics are provided for the time being. It is estimated that the number of this behavior is not large.
Source: https://www.immutable.com/, as of 2022.8.1
Let’s look at the revenue side: the browser provided by IMX displays all NFT transaction volumes in the past two months. Each data point on the official website has precise values. Statistics can show that the total transaction volume in the past two months is ~$18 million. On an average of $300,000 a day, a daily tax of $6,000 can be charged at 2%, which is more than enough for a subsidy of $280 a day . Of course, the 2% here is the future rule. In fact, the whole June is charged at 1%, and the 2% tax rate is restored in July; in addition, the annualization can only be estimated based on the data of the past two months, and cannot be based on longer Periodic data to speculate on trends.
- API-based developer tools
Being friendly to developers is also a major feature of IMX.
IMX allows developers to access services through the REST API. The minting, transaction and transfer of NFT, or reading user balances, requiring users to sign transactions, etc., can all be called through the API . In this way, developers do not need to learn Solidity or smart contracts to complete the basic NFT deployment, which is ideal for projects that focus on the market and light development.
In fact, IMX has indeed attracted a number of such projects, and specific examples will be given in Section 2, the Operational Ecosystem.
- Shared order book mode
For project parties, another feature of IMX is the shared order book: all projects that use the underlying technology of IMX, even if they build their own malls, can display and trade all NFTs listed on other malls, which is equivalent to passing IMX The protocol automatically aggregates all NFT liquidity. At the same time, IMX also provides its own mall, and the game Gods Unchained developed by it is integrated with the IMX mall.
In the IMX ecosystem, shared liquidity enables the seller’s pending orders in any mall to be purchased by the buyer in any mall, and the mall can customize the mall tax rate for the buyer or seller. As shown in the image below, different marketplaces impose a 1% tax on buyers and sellers. The mall is similar to free traders, sharing all goods, but can customize the service mode.
At present, many malls such as OKX, Mintable, Token Trove, etc. have integrated IMX technology. In addition to paying mall rates and creator royalties, orders completed through these mall transactions will also contribute 2% of the protocol fee to IMX. Opensea also officially announced in April last year that it would inherit IMX, but there is no clear timeline yet.
In this way, cooperation between different malls will be greater than competition, enhancing the liquidity of the entire IMX ecosystem, which is undoubtedly beneficial to the IMX ecosystem.
As mentioned earlier, the original intention of IMX is to support the development of Web3 games, but its actual functions can meet the issuance of all NFT projects, and thus become a “pan-NFT” platform.
From the overall scale, the IMX ecosystem is already considerable. In Section 1.2, we calculated that the total NFT transaction volume in the past two months is ~$18 million, with an average daily average of $300,000. If this volume continues and the 2% agreement tax policy is implemented, then the average daily income of the agreement is ~$6,000 , the average monthly income is ~$180,000, which is already 10 times the income of the Optimism protocol .
From the distribution point of view, the game project NFTs that cooperate with IMX account for ~35%, and the weight is sufficient but there is no absolute advantage, while the remaining 75% are other pan-NFT projects.
The picture below shows the top 15 projects of IMX by transaction volume in the past 7 days, of which #1 Gods Unchained, #3 Illuvium, #6 Ember Sword, #8 PlanetQuest, #13#14 GOG are all game projects officially recommended by IMX.
A total of 6 game projects have been recommended by the official, of which only one card strategy game, Gods Unchained, has been opened to all players, and this is also the project that Immutable did when it first entered the industry. Later, Immutable turned to support the development of Gods Unchained. Do NFT infrastructure. Most of the other games are in internal testing, but most have released assets, so 5 of the 6 games are in the top 15 of the platform’s transaction value.
If estimated according to the 90-day transaction volume in the table, the average daily transaction volume of these 5 game projects is ~100,000 US dollars, while the average daily transaction volume of the entire platform is ~300,000 US dollars (section 1.2), and the game project NFT transaction volume accounts for ~35% of the total.
In addition to this, other projects come from a wide range of sources. For example, #5 Hro is a DC brand authorized peripheral publisher, issuing 1:1 DC cards on the chain and entities. Users can buy physical cards on Amazon and scan the code to get them. The corresponding NFT cards, and the casting and trading of these cards are implemented in IMX; another example is #10 Book Games, which is one of the NFT series issued by VeeFriends, an NFT community focused on intellectual property.
In general, IMX, as a platform serving NFT functions, focuses on serving game assets, but it also includes various pure NFT projects in the actual operation process, and the latter actually accounts for the bulk of the transaction volume (~75%).
Whether it is a game asset or pure NFT, projects on IMX have one thing in common: a single asset is relatively small , such as the top 15 projects above, the floor price is between 0.002~1.5 ETH, and the floor price of many projects is 0.1 Below ETH. Combined with the free minting/transfer characteristics of IMX, IMX is actually more suitable for “small and high-frequency” NFT transaction scenarios. The operation fee is cheap, but the security level is not as good as the Ethereum mainnet or Rollups, and games that require a lot of cards such as Gods Unchained is precisely one example of this type of scenario.
The platform token of IMX is $IMX, which was issued in November last year, with a total issuance of 2 billion, and the current circulation is about 240 million.
$IMX has three utilities.
1) As a transaction fee. 20% of the IMX protocol fee needs to be paid in $IMX, which can be used directly, or IMX will exchange the actual transaction token for $IMX in the secondary market to push up the buying pressure.
2) Staking to obtain ecological incentives. The pledge of IMX is slightly different. Users need to hold at least 10 $IMX for a period of time, and have traded at least 1 NFT and participated in governance during this period, and they are pledged during this period.
3) Governance. The proposal has a certain threshold for holding tokens, but all token holders can vote. This part has no planning details and is temporarily vacant.
In the allocation of $IMX, ~51.74% belongs to ecological development, including user pledge incentives, developer funds, marketing, etc.; 25% belongs to the agreement itself for development and operation; ~14.26% belongs to private placement; 5% is sold in public offerings; 4% is reserved by the foundation to provide liquidity on exchanges, etc.
Source: Immutable X Whitepaper
Token distribution to incentivize users is still held irregularly. Recently, IMX launched a new round of incentive activities. Trading mining activities began on July 26, and two rounds of staking mining activities were carried out simultaneously.
Team and Financing
Immutable was co-founded by a pair of young brothers in Australia. Brother James Ferguson is the CEO. He studied law at the University of Sydney from 2011 to 2016. After graduation, he founded three companies and started Immutable in 2018. Robbie Ferguson, who is 5 years younger, also studied at the University of Sydney, but dropped out due to the establishment of Immutable to serve as general manager. CTO Alex Connolly is also a comrade, dropping out at the University of Sydney to co-found Immutable with the Ferguson brothers.
In addition to the IMX infrastructure, Immutable also has a game studio responsible for the operation and maintenance of Gods Unchained, as well as game publishing. Another game project currently recommended by the platform, Guild of Guardians, is published by Immutable Game Studio.
The game studio has a separate team, including VP and Gods Unchained game director Chris Clay, a gaming veteran who joined Immutable in July 2019. Most of the other management teams have not joined for a long time. G. Justin Hulog, the studio executive director from Riot, and Veronica Foo, the marketing director who has worked in Ubisoft, Riot, and Illuvium, all joined this year; they have worked in Microsoft and Electronic Arts. Longtime engineering director Aakash Mandhar joined in November last year.
Although the core team is young, it has invited many senior figures in the industry, and there is also a solid capital behind it.
So far, Immutable has announced 5 rounds of financing, with a cumulative financing of ~$280 million. In July 2018, two financings were announced successively, both led by Continue Capital and Nirvana Capital, with a single investment of $2.4 million; in September 2019, a $15 million Series A financing was completed, led by Galaxy Interactive and Prosus Ventures Lead investment; In September 2021, complete an A$82 million Series B financing, led by BITKRAFT Ventures and King River Capital; in March 2022, complete a $200 million Series C financing, led by Temasek.
Advantages and Challenges
The characteristics of IMX are very obvious. A certain data security is exchanged for a convenient and low-cost developer and user experience, which also creates its corresponding advantages and disadvantages.
IMX’s free minting/transfer NFT and API interface are its biggest advantages, which greatly reduces the threshold for NFT issuance. At the same time, IMX is also a part of the Ethereum ecosystem. By integrating into StarkNet, it can achieve composability with other smart contracts, which is more flexible than a completely independent Flow.
This also makes IMX more suitable for “small and high-frequency” lightweight assets . Such scenarios can take advantage of the high throughput of Validium mode and have lower requirements for data security. Conversely, owners of high-value assets may be reluctant to risk storing and trading assets on IMX, and IMX may not be able to attract high-quality blue-chip NFT projects ; moreover, if NFT projects have complex Defi interaction logic, it is difficult for current IMX to provide technical support.
Judging from the data of the past two months, IMX’s business data is very healthy. The annualized transaction volume reaches ~100 million US dollars, and the annual revenue is estimated to reach 2 million US dollars at a 2% tax rate, and the cost of casting NFT can be fully deducted. . To observe future trends, it is necessary to track the next business data, whether it will decline with the deep bear of the broader market, or with the implementation of the 2% tax rate.
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Posted by:CoinYuppie，Reprinted with attribution to:https://coinyuppie.com/immutable-x-from-chain-game-infrastructure-to-standardized-nft-issuance-platform/
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