Opinion: The saga of my Saga

BlockchainGamer.biz editor-at-large Jon Jordan has been writing about the games industry since 1999. He predicts blockchain is the next great disruption and in our weekly column he shares his views on everything web3 games. You can read more in his Substack and contact him via [email protected].

It was 15 days ago that my Solana Saga phone arrived and I excitedly told everyone that the key element – the “dApp Store” – didn’t work, but I hoped to “get back to you tomorrow”.

It took a bit longer but – 48 hours later: as customer support had suggested – the dapp store (let’s drop the odd capitalization) magically started to work.

I had done nothing beyond keeping the phone charged and periodically restarting it.

The dapp store is important because it provides developers of Solana apps with access to us Solana superfans. It’s a great place to test early software, which is why many of the 27 apps available – including Magic Eden – aren’t yet on the usual web2 app stores.

In addition, there are no restrictions on how crypto or blockchain features are implemented c.f. the recent discussion of Axie Infinity’s release on the App Store and STEPN’s adoption of Apple Pay and the implications thereof.

You can easily interact with these apps using the Saga’s secure Seed Vault – which holds your wallet’s private key(s) – while crucially your key(s) can’t be accessed by any of the apps or even the phone’s Android OS, effectively giving hardware wallet level-of-security, without requiring additional hardware.

In this way, using the Saga to interact with apps feels an order of magnitude more accessible than using a Ledger or Trezor hardware wallet; something I’ve particularly struggled with on Solana.

Of course, there are security implications if you use the Saga as your daily out-and-abound phone, especially if you’re signing transactions with the fingerprint scanner.

Conversely, if you’re not using the Saga as your daily phone – and personally I wouldn’t use it as such over my Pixel 5 – at $1,100 it’s a very expensive and heavy hardware wallet just for Solana.

Probably such issues are why Solana has suggested it was only making around 10,000 Saga phones, to which I anecdotally add that given the numbering of the soulbound Saga Genesis NFT you mint into your wallet, I’d be very surprised if there’s more than 3,000 live devices.

But back to my Saga saga…

With the dapp store now working, it was time to load up on apps, notably installing the Phantom wallet and connecting it to the Seed Vault in a process similar to adding a Ledger wallet to Metamask.

Then it was time for the usual tests. Send the Seed Vault some SOL. Make sure you can send SOL back out. And everything’s good to go…

In the meantime, I also received my 18 SOL refund from MechaFightClub’s SOL 4 Cocks program so I sent some of that to the phone because I wanted to buy another Eternal Dragons NFT to dig further into its ongoing alpha.

It was at this point that I could automagically no longer sign transactions. It wasn’t clear why transactions weren’t being signed but nothing worked: either using the fingerprint sensor or the backup PIN code. Oops.

Even now I’m not entirely sure why this happened and so assumed I was going to hit the big red factory setting reboot button, and/or restore the Seed Vault with the seed phrase, but after some thought thankfully all it took was uninstalling and reinstalling Phantom and then reapproving it for use with the Seed Vault. It worked again.

And that’s where I am currently; pretty happy with the experience, albeit somewhat nervous about future gremlins.

Probably the bigger issue, however, is the lack of quality apps. Obviously that sort of ecosystem play takes time to mature but – as an example – there are currently only three games on the dapp store and they’re not great.

Also, it’s surprising that signature Solana titles such as Genopets and Eternal Dragons aren’t yet on the dapp store, despite being available via other app stores (the former) or via APK (the latter).

Still, no doubt, I will be writing future Saga sagas before too long, but hopefully not too soon either.

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