Footprint Analytics

Posted on Jun 16, 2024Read on Mirror.xyz

Introducing Ronin Network: The Blockchain for Gaming

What is Ronin Network?

Ronin Network is an EVM (Ethereum Virtual Machine)-compatible blockchain forged for gaming. It powers two of Web3’s top games: Axie Infinity and Pixels. Ronin aims to become the full-stack infrastructure that enables the success of blockchain games.

Key Takeaways

  • Ronin is an EVM-compatible Layer 1 blockchain forged for gaming. The Ronin team, Sky Mavis, is one of the few teams with real experience in driving mass adoption.

  • Initially utilizing a Proof of Authority (PoA) consensus mechanism, Ronin Network later transitioned to Delegated Proof of Stake (DPoS) to improve security and increase decentralization.

  • Ronin Network provides several advantages to studios and developers within its ecosystem: specialized gaming infrastructure, active on-chain community, and access to proven publishing expertise from Sky Mavis.

  • Through strategic upgrades, recovery efforts, and expanding its game titles, Ronin has developed a diverse ecosystem and established itself as a leading blockchain platform for gaming.

Introduction to Ronin Network

Ronin Network is a cutting-edge EVM-compatible Layer 1 blockchain, crafted specifically for the Web3 gaming world. Developed by Sky Mavis, creators of the groundbreaking Web3 game Axie Infinity, Ronin is built to support games where players can truly own and trade their in-game assets.

Ronin Network

The network first made its public debut with the release of its testnet on December 23, 2020, followed by the launch of its mainnet on February 1, 2021. These key developments were part of Sky Mavis’ broader strategy to evolve beyond a single game, aiming to build a diverse ecosystem of multiple gaming studios on Ronin. This ambitious plan is progressively bearing fruit, transforming Ronin into one of the foundational platforms for blockchain gaming.

The Team behind Ronin Network: Sky Mavis

Sky Mavis, the company behind Ronin Network, aims to give economic freedom to people, starting with gamers. Known for creating Axie Infinity, Sky Mavis has established itself not only as a leading force in blockchain gaming but also as one of the few teams with real experience driving mass adoption.

Sky Mavis

The company offers essential tools for game developers to build and expand their blockchain games. These tools include Mavis Hub, a launchpad for promising blockchain games; Mavis Market, the first generalized NFT marketplace on Ronin; and Mavis Account, which connects users to all of Sky Mavis’ products.

Based in Vietnam and Singapore, Sky Mavis boasts a diverse and dynamic team of over 250 employees worldwide.

Fundraising by Ronin Network

Sky Mavis has secured $172 million across four successful funding rounds. Initially, the focus was primarily on advancing the development of Axie Infinity during the first two rounds. However, with the Series B funding, a strategic shift occurred, directing resources towards the growth and enhancement of both Axie Infinity and the newly launched Ronin Network. Notable investors in these rounds included a16z Crypto, Animoca Brands, Paradigm, and Accel.

Fundraising by Sky Mavis

In April 2022, Sky Mavis initiated a remarkable funding round, raising $150 million in response to an unexpected security breach where 173,600 ETH and 25.5M USDC were drained from the Ronin Bridge. This round was swiftly secured from a group of investors within a week of the incident. However, Sky Mavis was able to refill the Ronin Bridge and fully reimburse all affected users with its own balance sheet. Consequently, the company scaled back the initially planned $150 million round and ultimately raised $11 million, led by a16z and Animoca Brands.

How Ronin Network Works

Ronin Network initially operated on a Proof of Authority (PoA) consensus mechanism, which involved a select group of validators responsible for maintaining the network and verifying transactions. This method offers several advantages, including lower energy consumption compared to Proof of Work (PoW) systems, as it does not require intensive computational tasks to validate transactions. PoA also supports faster transaction speeds and reduced costs, as it allows for quicker block validation. Despite these benefits, PoA has faced criticism for its lack of decentralization compared to other consensus mechanisms.

To enhance Ronin’s decentralization, Sky Mavis introduced an update incorporating Delegated Proof of Stake (DPoS) into the validator selection process. This change allows any Ronin token (RON) holder who meets a certain threshold to become a validator, widening access and significantly boosting the network’s decentralization. While transitioning to DPoS, Ronin retains the key benefits of PoA, such as swift transaction speeds and lower fees. Under DPoS, token holders delegate their stakes to elect validators, and to ensure the integrity of this process, slashing rules are applied to penalize any validators found to be acting maliciously.

Benefits of Ronin Network

Ronin Network provides several advantages to studios and developers within its ecosystem.

Specialized Gaming Infrastructure

Ronin Network offers a tailored gaming infrastructure specifically designed to meet the unique demands of the gaming industry. This platform ensures seamless integration and exceptional performance, enabling developers to easily deploy and manage their games. With Ronin’s infrastructure, transactions are processed nearly instantly at minimal costs — typically less than $0.001 per transaction. Additionally, its compatibility with the EVM simplifies the game development process, allowing for smooth implementation. Ronin also provides developers with an integrated suite of tools through the Ronin and Mavis products. The upgrade to DPoS has enhanced economic security and improved decentralization, all while maintaining rapid transaction speeds and low fees.

Moreover, Ronin’s infrastructure supports easy user onboarding. Ronin introduced sponsored transactions, allowing one address to make transactions that are paid for by another. This feature enables game studios to sponsor transaction fees for their players, significantly easing the onboarding process for new users unfamiliar with Web3 gaming.

Active On-chain Community

Ronin is home to one of the biggest and most active Web3 gaming communities in the world. According to Footprint Analytics, the average daily active users(DAU) on Ronin jumped from 16.97K in October 2023 to over 1.37 million in May 2024, with Pixels’ integration — an astonishing 80-fold increase. This community is not only large but also highly active, with members regularly engaging in gameplay and referrals. Such participation establishes Ronin as a premier destination for active on-chain users.

Source: Ronin Network Daily Active Users

Proven Publishing Expertise

Sky Mavis’ publishing expertise is a key advantage, with a team that includes seasoned industry professionals and dedicated Web3 developers. This team has a deep understanding of how to create and promote Web3 games effectively, ensuring that these games not only meet the highest standards of quality but also resonate with players. Moreover, Sky Mavis provides the Mavis Suite and various tooling for Ronin, which together form a best-in-class development kit designed specifically for Web3 gaming. These products are not only seamlessly integrated with each other but are also developed in close collaboration with studios within the Ronin ecosystem, facilitating continuous improvement and innovation.

Capitalizing on these benefits, games and NFT projects that migrate or launch on Ronin often experience significant growth — a phenomenon known within the ecosystem as the “Ronin Effect”. We will explore several examples of this effect in the next section of this article.

The Ronin Network Ecosystem

Let’s explore how Ronin transitioned from primarily supporting Axie Infinity to becoming a thriving gaming chain with a diverse ecosystem.

Games

Axie Infinity is a vibrant virtual world where players interact with creatures called Axies, which can be battled, bred, and collected. Axies are also a source of resources within the game.

Initially, Axie Infinity thrived on Ethereum’s blockchain, pioneering the concept of play-to-earn economies in the gaming space. However, as Ethereum’s architecture struggled to keep pace with the demands of high-speed and cost-efficient gaming transactions, Axie faced significant challenges in user retention and sustaining growth throughout 2021.

Axie Infinity

Sky Mavis recognized the urgent need for a scalable solution to address these limitations. Despite initially migrating to Loom Network in pursuit of relief from Ethereum’s crippling fees and network congestion, the rapid growth of Axie Infinity quickly outpaced Loom’s ability to provide the necessary scalability. This led Sky Mavis to embark on a bold endeavor: the development and launch of the Ronin Network. In February 2021, Sky Mavis unveiled the Ronin Network. Unlike Ethereum and Loom, Ronin was built specifically for gaming.

Leveraging its specialized gaming infrastructure and Sky Mavis’ strategic emphasis on community building, user engagement and retention, along with its expertise in content marketing, go-to-market(GTM) strategies, and in-game economics design, Axie Infinity experienced a significant surge in growth. This growth was further amplified by favorable timing, coinciding with increased gaming activity during the pandemic when people spent more time on games.

According to data from Footprint Analytics, Axie Infinity achieved a significant milestone by surpassing 1 million users within seven months of the Ronin mainnet launch. Just 10 months later, this figure skyrocketed to an impressive 9 million users.

Source: Total Users of Axie Infinity on Ronin and Ethereum

Following the security breach in March 2022, Ronin shifted to a DPoS consensus mechanism to bolster network security and further decentralization, subsequently achieving a steady recovery. Sky Mavis now operates 1 validator out of the 22 validators. This shift paved the way for Ronin to expand its gaming ecosystem beyond Axie Infinity, beginning with the introduction of several new games in March 2023 including The Machines Arena, Tribesters, and Axie Champions. Later in the year, Ronin further diversified its portfolio by adding Wild Forest,** Pixels**, Apeiron, and Fight League.

Pixels is a Web3 farming game that transforms the traditional farming game experience, allowing players to cultivate resources, prepare food, and trade goods. Since migrating to Ronin, Pixels has seen remarkable growth, with DAU exceeding 100K in the first month and reaching over 1 million by the seventh month.

Source: Pixels Daily Active Users

This growth has not only significantly expanded Ronin’s user base and transaction volumes but also enriched the ecosystem with its focus on user-generated content and peer-to-peer resource trading.

Additionally, Ronin’s ecosystem is expanding with the launch of new products and services in areas such as NFTs and DeFi, further enriching its diverse offerings.

NFTs

Ronin supports several NFT dApps, including the NFT marketplace Mavis Market and Axie Infinity Marketplace, CyberKongz Genkai NFT, and NFTBank.

Mavis Market, as Ronin’s generalized NFT marketplace, upholds creator royalties, fostering an economic model that benefits creators, their communities, and the Ronin network alike. This balance is achieved through a whitelist access requirement for contract deployment on Ronin, which curbs the rise of unauthorized marketplaces and ensures that creators receive their due royalties.

Source: Mavis Market’s Fee Structure

An example of NFT success in the Ronin ecosystem is the multiplayer action RPG game Kaidro, which migrated to Ronin in February 2024. Its first primary NFT mint on Ronin in April 2024 met with overwhelming success, selling out all 9,999 Spark Suit NFTs almost instantly. Over 2,500 NFTs of these were snapped up in a public sale in less than 30 seconds, generating a total of $2 million in primary sales.

DeFi

The Ronin network hosts several DeFi protocols, including its native decentralized exchange(DEX), Katana DEX, as well as Ronin Bridge, Ronin Staking, the lending protocol MetaLend, and the payment solution Sablier. Katana DEX stands out as the largest dApp on Ronin, commanding more than 90% of the total value locked (TVL) on the platform.

Wallet

Ronin Wallet serves as the primary gateway for millions of gamers, offering browser extensions and mobile apps for easy access. With Ronin Wallet, users can track individual token activity histories and view NFT details. This wallet leverages Social Login features and Multi-Party Computation (MPC) technology to enhance security and manage ERC-20 tokens on Ethereum and other supported chains.

The RON Token

The RON token is the native ecosystem token of Ronin Network. It serves multiple functions such as paying transaction fees, staking to secure the network and earn rewards, and pricing assets in NFT marketplaces. Additionally, RON is widely utilized as the currency for gaming transactions, including purchases of game items, NFT mints, and token sales.

The distribution of RON tokens is allocated as follows: 25% for rewards, 30% for community incentives, 30% to Sky Mavis, and 15% to the ecosystem fund. The total maximum supply of RON is capped at 1 billion tokens, with the potential for full distribution over 108 months.

Source: RON Unlock Schedule

RON holders and stakers enjoy exclusive benefits, such as airdrops, whitelist opportunities, and launchpad allocations for token launches. For instance, Pixels launched its PIXEL token in February 2024 and announced a 20 million PIXEL airdrop for those staking RON, rewarding Ronin’s supporters.

From October 2023 to May 2024, the price of RON rose from $0.4 to over $3.0, reaching a peak at $4.4 in March 2024 as reported by CoinGecko.

What is Next for the Ronin Network?

“Ronin’s curated approach to game publishing has seen considerable success in Pixels, Apeiron, and Kaidro. We are excited to accelerate the onboarding of great games and replicate these successful launches,” said Bailey Tan, Head of Ronin Ecosystem.

Looking ahead, Sky Mavis continues to prioritize network enhancement as part of their strategic roadmap. The team consistently focuses on addressing the “Blockchain Trilemma” — balancing security, scalability, and decentralization.

Source: Ronin Slides at AxieCon 2022

Ronin is actively exploring different scaling strategies, including both monolithic and modular approaches. For the monolithic method, a key solution under consideration is parallel transaction execution. In terms of modular solutions, Ronin is particularly focused on Zero-Knowledge (ZK) rollups. After evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of optimistic and ZK rollups, the team has determined that ZK rollups are more suitable for Ronin. This is because ZK rollups verify transactions more quickly and settle them sooner, making them a better choice for a gaming blockchain.

Bailey Tan also shared some future plans for the Ronin Network.

“We are looking into ZK rollup technology, specifically the zkEVM variant, to future proof our network in terms of scalability. We are also leveling up our Mavis Suite products to reduce development time and friction in user onboarding, and improve monetization for Web3 games. Our MPC embedded wallet technology sits at the center of these efforts, and is in a pilot phase with some games on Ronin.”

Final Thoughts

As an EVM-compatible Layer 1 blockchain, Ronin is specifically tailored to optimize the gaming experience, providing an infrastructure that supports seamless integration and rapid transaction processing. As it continues to evolve with enhanced security measures and an expanding ecosystem, Ronin is set to deepen its impact. It has the potential to become the go-to blockchain for Web3 gaming.

Author: Stella L ([email protected])

This article was first published in the Footprint Analytics column on CoinGecko.

What is Footprint Analytics?

Footprint Analytics is a blockchain data solutions provider. We leverage cutting-edge AI technology to help analysts, builders, and investors turn blockchain data and combine Web2 data into insights with accessible visualization tools and a powerful multi-chain API across 30+ chains for NFTs, games, wallet profiles, and money flow data.

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