Facing the hurdle of cross-chain interoperability in web3 games
Alexander Goldybin is the founder and chairman of the board at iLogos, a co-development studio which has worked with the likes of Immutable, Rumble Kong League, Rovio, Wooga and Ubisoft. He’s also one of our Maven experts.
In recent years, the rise of blockchain technology has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for game development. With its decentralized nature and ability to create unique digital assets, blockchain has the potential to revolutionize the gaming industry. However, one of the biggest challenges we face is building cross-chain interoperability for blockchain games.
Challenges of building cross-chain interoperability
- Network and consensus variations
One of the major hurdles in achieving cross-chain interoperability is the presence of different blockchain architectures and consensus algorithms across various networks. Different blockchains may employ distinct architectural designs, such as Bitcoin’s UTXO model or Ethereum’s account-based model. These architectural differences result in variations in how transactions are processed, stored, and validated.
Furthermore, consensus algorithms play a crucial role in determining how transactions are agreed upon and added to the blockchain. Bitcoin, for instance, uses the Proof of Work (PoW) algorithm, while Ethereum is transitioning to Proof of Stake (PoS). These consensus algorithm differences introduce additional challenges in ensuring cross-chain compatibility and synchronization.
- Scalability and performance
Scalability and performance are vital considerations when it comes to cross-chain interoperability. Block confirmation times, the time it takes for a block to be added to the blockchain, vary across different blockchain networks. For example, Bitcoin has a block confirmation time of approximately 10 minutes, while blockchains like EOS aim for sub-second block confirmation times.
Alexander Goldybin – Founder and chairman of the board at iLogos
Moreover, throughput, the number of transactions a blockchain can process per second, and transaction fees also differ among blockchains. Bitcoin’s throughput is relatively low, leading to higher transaction fees during network congestion. On the other hand, blockchains like Stellar and Ripple boast high throughput and low transaction fees.
Efforts are underway to address scalability and performance challenges in cross-chain interoperability. Layer 2 solutions, such as sidechains and state channels, provide scalability improvements by offloading some transaction processing to secondary chains or enabling off-chain transactions.
- Security and trust
Smart contracts, self-executing contracts with the terms of the agreement directly written into code, are prevalent in blockchain ecosystems and facilitate automated transactions. However, they are susceptible to bugs and vulnerabilities that can be exploited by malicious actors.
To ensure security and trust in cross-chain interoperability, rigorous testing, and auditing of smart contracts are essential. Additionally, the adoption of standardized security practices, such as formal verification and code audits, can help mitigate the risk of vulnerabilities.
- Protocols and middleware
These protocols act as universal adapters and wrappers, allowing different blockchains to communicate with each other. They provide a standardized set of rules and protocols that enable seamless asset transfers and smart contract interactions between chains.
- Universal adapters and wrappers
The concept of universal adapters and wrappers is based on the idea of creating a layer of abstraction that sits between different blockchains. This layer acts as a bridge, translating the protocols and data structures of one chain into a format that can be understood by another chain. By doing so, it allows for the seamless transfer of assets and information between chains, regardless of their underlying technology or design.
- Cross-chain smart contracts
These smart contracts are designed to facilitate the exchange of assets and the execution of complex operations across multiple blockchains. They are programmed to interact with different chains, enabling the transfer of assets, the execution of transactions, and the enforcement of business rules across chains.
- Cross-chain bridging
While interoperability protocols and middleware provide a solid foundation for cross-chain communication, there is still room for improvement. Cross-chain bridge enhancements aim to address some of the limitations and challenges associated with existing solutions.
- Two-way pegs and asset locking
This mechanism allows for the transfer of assets from one chain to another while ensuring that the assets are locked on the source chain until they are redeemed on the destination chain. This ensures the integrity and security of the assets during the transfer process, preventing double spending and other fraudulent activities.
Sidechains and layer-2 solutions
- Benefits and challenges
The use of sidechains and layer-2 solutions brings several benefits to the blockchain ecosystem. They enable faster transaction processing, lower fees, and increased scalability, without compromising on the security and decentralization of the main chain. However, implementing sidechains and layer-2 solutions also poses certain challenges, such as the need for additional consensus mechanisms, ensuring the security of pegged assets, and maintaining the overall coherence and consistency of the entire network.
- Examples of successful sidechain implementations
Despite the challenges, there have been successful implementations of sidechains and layer-2 solutions in the blockchain space. One notable example is the Liquid sidechain, developed by Blockstream. Liquid is a federated sidechain that enables fast and confidential transactions for Bitcoin and other assets. Another example is the Lightning Network, a layer-2 solution for Bitcoin that allows for instant micropayments and increased scalability.