In a world not lacking new blockchains, the recent launch of Cosmos has managed to generate headlines above-and-beyond the usual crypto chatter.
That’s because Cosmos can truthfully claim to be significantly different to what we’ve seen before.
There are plenty of reasons to want to build your own custom blockchain.
While Bitcoin is labelled ‘a different type of money’, and Ethereum is now a ‘global, decentralized platform for money and new kinds of applications’, Cosmos is the ‘Internet of Blockchains’
Great slogan but not the easiest statement to unpick. Perhaps the simplest thing to say is it’s a blockchain designed to connect other blockchains together, and at the heart of this promise sits Tendermint.
It’s a low-level consensus model and application interface upon which Cosmos is built – indeed Tendermint Inc is developing Cosmos – and as an open source project it can be used by anyone.
“There are plenty of reasons to want to build your own custom blockchain,” suggests Zaki Manian, Director of Tendermint Labs.
For example, he says it doesn’t really make sense to have a blockchain where high value financial transactions and small value game asset transactions compete to be saved in a block, as currently happens on Ethereum.
And that’s one of the reasons for the rise in Ethereum layer 2 solutions. These rely on its mainnet for decentralization and asset security, but take advantage of their own speed and lack of gas fees etc to provide a better user experience when security isn’t an issue.
One of the best known, especially in games, is Loom Network’s PlasmaChain, which – no surprise – was developed with Tendermint.
“Yes, Loom used Tendermint and an early version of the Cosmos SDK to build its Plasmachain,” Manian says.
“As Cosmos evolves, more people will build similar tech.”
Assets and users
But for the time being, as an early stage project, Cosmos is not yet something with which most blockchain game developers will be getting their hands dirty.
That’s not to say real products aren’t being launched using it though. The highest profile launch to-date based the Cosmos SDK has been the Binance Chain powering Binance’s new decentralized exchange.
“We are taking to people in the gaming space but Cosmos is a generic technology so games are not a focus for us at the moment,” Manian states.
In the medium term, however, he sees gamers as being a key audience for the widespread adoption of blockchain-based products.
“We think about two main things,” Manian comments. “We think about assets under management and users. Games aren’t interesting for the first but are for the second.”
Using the Cosmos stack, you could enable governance in terms of putting issues such as the issuance and scarcity of assets into the hands of your community.
He also points out that as Cosmos develops further and gains traction, the cross-chain activity it enables will be vital for providing the trading volume and liquidity required to grow and this will be especially important for NFTs.
For the people, by the people
But, aside from the high concept vision and clever technology, the thing Manian has been most impressed about during Cosmos’ development and launch has been its community.
“Something I think has been the most successful thing we’re done is enable decentralized governance ,” he says.
“We threw our community a roadblock in terms of forcing them to work out the process for transfering our ICO tokens [to native tokens]. And people have been really engaged.”
And in this way, he reckons one of the biggest impacts Cosmos could have on the blockchain gaming space in the longterm is enabling similar interactions.
“Using the Cosmos stack, you could enable governance in terms of putting issues such as the issuance and scarcity of assets into the hands of your community,” he says.
“Participating and being part of such governance is a very potent form of engagement. I haven’t seen too many products doing it.”