Pirate Nation CEO Predicts Thousands of Dedicated Crypto Game Blockchains

Amitt Mahajan—founder and CEO of Proof of Play, the developer of crypto game Pirate Nation—predicts that eventually there will be thousands of dedicated blockchains that each support individual applications. 

This comes after his experience building the viral Facebook game Farmville. During his time developing the casual farming simulator, Zynga operated approximately 64 databases simply to prevent the game from crashing. To Mahajan, the blockchain is just an advanced database.

“At peak, [Farmville] was at about 30 million daily active users. So in order to scale a game to that, we had like 64 databases,” Mahajan told Decrypt‘s GG. “In this world, the blockchain is our database. We’re essentially using the chain as our data store. So in order to scale to any number of actual usage, we need to split transactions across chains.”

Previously, Pirate Nation was building on Ethereum scaling network Polygon, but moved to Arbitrum Nova due to rising Polygon gas fees. However, the project saw an issue in relying on shared networks as a new project launching could boost gas fees for everyone on the chain.

In February, Pirate Nation eyed up the possibility of launching chains for itself and other developers using Arbitrum—in a project called Multichain.

The on-chain role-playing game Pirate Nation is now sailing on its own application-specific chain, Apex, and the founder believes that this is the only logical future for other apps too.

“As soon as you’re an application with any level of scale, you need to be able to predictably control your gas costs,” Mahajan told Decrypt. “My prediction is that there’s going to be thousands and thousands of chains, as people split off from these shared layer-2s to application-specific chains.”

A screenshot from Pirate Nation. Image: Proof of Play

We’ve already seen this trend across multiple blockchain networks. Several games building on Avalanche are using their own dedicated subnets, for example, such as Shrapnel and the upcoming Off the Grid with its GUNZ network. In another example, Treasure is building its own Arbitrum-based Treasure Chain that will feature a web of “Infinity Chains,” or dedicated gaming networks.

Since launching on its own app-specific chain, Mahajan said that Pirate Nation has started to fill up the chain with transactions—with the team already eyeing up a second chain for support.

“We’ve essentially reached the capacity of Apex,” Mahajan explained. “Now, in order to continue to scale the game, we need to add the B-chain, the C-chain, the D-chain,” he added. “We’re going to be adding more chains in the future so that we can continue to add and scale the number of users in the game.”

Needing multiple chains might sound odd or concerning. But for Mahajan, who has experience building games in the world of Web2, this isn’t anything new. It’s just a new riff on the same premise of needing scalable architecture to support growing games.

Mahajan worked for Zynga from 2009 to 2011, during this time he headed the development of Farmville. In the Web3 space, rather than worrying about popular blockchain games crashing, developers worry about rising fees due to network congestion.

Back when Pirate Nation was on Polygon, the firm said it was paying up to $4,000 a day in gas fees to abstract them away from players—but that wasn’t sustainable for a startup. Although launching four or more chains just to run one crypto game might seem like a big hassle, Mahajan sees an upside to the added muscle.

“It was inconvenient to have to run 64 databases for Farmville,” he said. “It’s inconvenient for us, because we’re the first people doing it. But then it becomes a product.”

Mahajan again uses Web2 to put this into perspective. Concepts like load balancing and caching had to be invented, the founder explained, in order for a product like Facebook to be built.

If we can make a game that reaches a million daily active users (DAU), that means that you can build another dapp or a photo-sharing site or something else that can reach a million DAU as well.

—Amitt Mahajan, founder and CEO of Pirate Nation

This is part of Pirate Nation’s multichain offering, in which Apex is the first network to be launched. Multichain plans to open up for other game and dapp developers to launch their own networks powered by Arbitrum Orbit, an Ethereum scaling technology.

“It’s coming. There’s definitely been interest,” Mahajan said. “We need to solve our own capacity [issues before we take on others.”

Dedicated players

Pirate Nation’s expansion plans come after the game launched its PIRATE token in June. Its listing on Coinbase saw the Ethereum token’s value jump, but price isn’t what the founder is concerned about when it comes to the token launch. 

Instead, he wanted to focus on the 80% of claimed PIRATE tokens currently staked by users, according to a Dune dashboard. By staking these tokens, users earn Proof of Play (PoP) Points which promise to unlock additional benefits within the ecosystem. In part, this high percentage is due to PIRATE tokens not being locked when staked, and allowing users to still spend without any penalties.

To the founder, the high percentage of staked tokens is a bet of confidence by the community and a sign that the game isn’t attracting farmers who just want to dump the token.

“Staking is really a chance for folks to re-affirm that they’re in it for the long-term,” Mahajan explained, “so the fact that so many people, in such a high volume, have done it is encouraging.”

And for those dedicated gamers, the largest on-chain event is just around the corner.

In the coming month, the second World Boss event will take place. This will see players join arms to defeat bosses together, but also compete for their transaction to be the kill shot. Players would be rewarded for their damage dealt and given a 1-of-1 NFT if they landed the kill shot.

This event will be the biggest in-game event that Pirate Nation has ever seen. With this, the network is likely to be strained, especially with the developers already eyeing up a second chain to split transactions. Will it stretch the Apex chain to its limits?

“We’ll see,” Mahajan replied with a smile.

Edited by Andrew Hayward

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