Immutable’s CTO Alex Connolly on Polygon, Passport and Raising The Bar
The Co-Founder of the leading force in Web3 gaming chats the Polygon alliance, the Immutable Passport, and the titles coming in 2023.
It’s been less than three months since we last spoke to Alex Connolly, Co-Founder and CTO of Immutable – but boy has a lot changed!
A groundbreaking partnership with Polygon, the initial rollout of the Immutable Passport, three top-tier games announced to be building on their new zkEVM; Immutable started off 2023 with a bang, and it’s only risen higher from there.
With GDC, NFT.NYC and Consensus behind us, I caught up with Alex to chat about all the latest developments, and whether 2023 really could be the year that sees web3 gaming breach into the wider video game audience.
John: We last spoke to you in early February – and a lot has changed since then! First things first, Immutable x Polygon; what does it mean for web3 gaming?
Alex: Back in March at GDC, we were incredibly excited to announce our partnership with Polygon to build Immutable zkEVM, our new rollup that we’re offering alongside our existing Immutable X scaling solution. As an EVM-compatible zk-rollup, it inherits Ethereum’s security. This will enable our customers to access all the benefits of smart contracts, composability, and a plethora of EVM-compatible tools.
Immutable and Polygon are two of the leading lights in Ethereum gaming, so coming together to offer this product means that the choice for many games has just been dramatically simplified.
Our primary goal is to provide developers with access to the best tools in the space, allowing them to focus on creating immersive gaming experiences rather than worrying about which platforms to choose between. This is what’s going to allow us to finally compete with the big web2 studios.
Back then, you remarked that web3 trading experiences don’t match web2 just yet. With this partnership – and the forthcoming Immutable Passport – do you think we’re getting closer to not only matching, but surpassing these web2 experiences?
We must create web3 trading experiences that are genuinely better than those in web2. Players have been able to trade some of their items in video games for a long time. Whilst people who play Steam games like Counter-Strike or Team Fortress 2, for example, will be used to the Steam marketplace, we think that web3 trading experiences can be much better – though we’re not quite there yet.
We think that this partnership with Polygon, and particularly the advent of Immutable Passport – our new identity and wallet product that we’ll be releasing over the next few months – will be the next step forward in this frontier. As it stands today, it’s essential to smooth out many of these user experience challenges and ensure that trading is well embedded into games so that users aren’t just pushed out to external secondary marketplaces.
The more we can make this a seamless endgame experience, the better our chance of competing with existing web2 trading mechanics.
Shardbound, Infinite Victory, and MetalCore are all announced to be using the Immutable zkEVM. How excited is your team to see these games come to Immutable?
Having played all three games, I can say that the bar is about to go way higher in web3 gaming. These are some of the best web3 games in the world at the moment, and we are incredibly excited to see them come to life on Immutable zkEVM.
These titles represent some of the first fruits of the next generation of blockchain games, and they hold massive potential to attract and retain a mainstream audience. In order for them to do so, we need to make sure that the platform that those games are building on is the best possible web3 gaming platform, and that’s precisely what Immutable is.
Through these partnerships, we’re also excited to showcase Immutable to new players and builders who will be onboarded into our wallet via the Immutable zkEVM, and use our suite of tools to help build mainstream-ready web3 games.
Speaking of onboarding, it remains one of the biggest topics in web3. What’s Immutable’s approach, and what progress do you think you’ll make this year?
We think that Immutable Passport will make a big difference in the user signup rate. We also believe that it’ll help to educate users on why they need a wallet, how they can get funds from their bank card and purchase digital assets, what it means to have assets on different chains, what it means to have assets move from Layer-1 to Layer-2, etc. We have a strong roadmap this year for tackling these challenges.
Over the past year, many games – in an attempt to solve some of the blockchain friction points – have created fragmented ecosystems by introducing individual custodial wallets for their platforms. While this produces a good one-time user experience, it means that users who intend to play five games, for example, end up with five different wallets across those titles. Further, such an approach results in users being unable to use any of those wallets on third-party marketplaces, and once you put on-ramp funds into one of those wallets, those funds aren’t usable in any other games.
We think that this is a crazy onboarding experience for most web2 gamers, and we’re incredibly passionate about solving these issues. Another product that will help improve the user experience is Immutable Checkout. It will be an enormous step forward in getting funds from all the sources where users have them and making them accessible in-game. That’s an incredibly exciting piece of our roadmap.
What can we expect from Immutable across the rest of 2023, and beyond?
We will continue delivering an absolutely fantastic platform for game developers trying to build mainstream-ready web3 titles.
We are incredibly excited about the depth of content that is going to be rolling out on our platform. We’ve been working really hard over the past 18 months to accelerate the mass adoption of web3 gaming by signing up some of the best possible games in the space. Those games have been hard at work building on their part, and we’re super excited to show many of those titles in 2023 and 2024.
We’re also excited to continue improving our platform and products so that those games have a much easier time attracting and retaining users. There is an incredibly bright future for many of these games, and we just need to ensure that the platform supporting them is high-quality enough to handle it.
I spoke last time of Alex’s passion and the vision of the Immutable team, and all that’s happened in the past few months has only served to reinforce the idea that out of all the blockchains out there, Immutable are one of the unquivocal leaders.
With AtomicHub launching their Immutable integration later this year, it’s a very exciting time to be covering Immutable as a chain, AtomicHub as a marketplace, and web3 gaming as a whole.
It’s far too early to tell if 2023 will really be the year for web3 games, but the momentum is firmly in Immutable’s hands. If there was ever a time for web3 games to break into the entertainment zeitgeist, we’re closer now than we’ve ever been above.
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