Takeaway: The ICON blockchain network offers a wide range of advantages to blockchain game developers.
- It’s one of the fastest networks in the blockchain space
- It’s cheaper than most alternatives
- It runs on one of the most popular programming languages in the world
- It has a large and supportive developer community
- It offers real promise for cross-chain interoperability with major blockchain networks like Near, Polkadot and Algorand thanks to the imminent launch of ICON’s Blockchain Transmission Protocol (BTP)
ICON has a thriving community of game developers.
ICON’s gaming ecosystem already has everything from decentalized gambling platforms and NFT-based space operas to collaborative DeFi games and peer-to-peer sports betting marketplaces that bridge online and offline spaces.
And with much, much more to come, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Indeed, game developers who get in early could enjoy considerable advantages,
But what makes ICON a great network to build games upon? Why should game developers look to ICON?
Lightning fast and cheap as hell
For games, speed is critical. And you’ll find few networks faster than ICON.
ICON confirms transactions in just two seconds. This blows Ethereum out of the water, and puts ICON in good standing with the likes of Polygon and Solana.
“This means that you can resolve a player’s action on-chain in two seconds. This is what allows ICONBet games to be developed 100% on-chain and not need a shady hidden code like 99% of the regular and crypto casinos out there.”
Not only is ICON fast, but it’s cheap, too. Gas fees are just pennies, a fraction of what they are on Ethereum.
ICONJohn, the CM of the NFT-powered space exploration game Project Nebula, praises the network’s unique combination of speed and cost.
“In a world where some chains have gas fees of a similar magnitude to the NFTs value itself, on ICON we can rely on negligible fees and a wait time of around two seconds for transactions to be sent,” he says.
“As such, transactions can be seamlessly integrated into gameplay and not detract from the player’s experience. When playing a real-time strategy game and making multiple transactions to keep the edge on competition, who wants to be waiting half a minute and paying dollar values for each transaction?“
ICON also lets game developers use the languages and skills they’ve worked so hard to acquire, without the need to learn completely new coding schemes.
Since the launch of ICON 2.0, ICON’s smart contracts run on Java, one of the most popular programming languages in the world.
Geo says, “ICON is built in a well-known language that most (developers) learn in school, a.k.a. Java, so it’s easier for programmers to get started rather than having to learn a new language like Solidity.”
Arosh, a community manager at ICON’s Discord channel, said, “Java is useful because Android development uses Java, especially in the gaming space.”
“Icon can really take advantage of this,” he said.
Plenty of resources to get you started
For starters, there are decades worth of tutorials on the internet for Java.
But beyond that, the community itself can be a powerful resource.
Geo says, “There are many different ICON Dev channels (telegram and discord) and developers themselves that are more than happy to answer questions and help other devs with issues.”
ICONJohn pointed to ICON’s close knit community as a major positive as well.
“While large scale is always painted as the holy grail, there is a certain value to having a concentrated and engaged and close-knit core community like we have on ICON,” he says.
“Everyone has a try at pretty much every project on the network and so you’re very familiar with everyone you are dealing with and can be reasonably assured that they are well informed as well. Which is a great environment for getting a game off the ground, with initial community building, beta testing etc.”
Even more resources are on the way. One of the more important recent additions has been ICON’s community-funded Unity SDK, a critical piece of infrastructure that brought the popular game development suite to ICON.
Did we mention BTP?
Of course, any discussion of gaming on ICON — or anything ICON, for that matter — would be incomplete without mentioning the upcoming Blockchain Transmission Protocol (BTP), ICON’s chain-agnostic, scalable, and secure interoperability protocol.
BTP means when you build your game on ICON, you’re building for not just ICON users. You’re building for some of the biggest blockchain communities in the world, including Polkadot, Algorand and NEAR Protocol.
“We can see Gangstabet, Claws and others turning their eyes to the promise of interchain and how the interop technology the ICON team is building toward might facilitate projects to spread their wings beyond the ecosystem,” says ICONJohn.
ICON’s gaming ecosystem got a taste of the hyperconnected future when the cooperative DeFi game Wonder Game used ICON Bridge — the lite version of BTP — to enable cross-chain minting of NFTs during its presale.
“BTP’s ability to move beyond token transfers and transfer NFTs is very important for gaming and the metaverse,” said Arosh.
“As ICON puts it, ‘NFT-as-identity’ will be useful, where you can use your BoredApe NFT as a membership system in a game. You can also potentially use an NFT from one game for added benefits in another game.”