Axie Infinity’s Gaming Sidechain Is Bigger Than Many Major Layer 1s by Volume: Nansen

If the future of blockchain is multi-chain, then Axie’s Ronin is leading the way, according to new research.

AccessTimeIconJan 11, 2022 at 3:10 p.m. UTC
Updated Apr 10, 2024 at 2:29 a.m. UTC

A farming simulator clogged a popular blockchain for days on end last week. Now a new research report from blockchain analytics firm Nansen sheds light on a possible solution.

At its peak in November, Ronin, a layer 2 product from Axie Infinity developer Sky Mavis devoted solely to the game, processed 560% more total transactions than the Ethereum blockchain, the report found. And while that figure has since retreated, the sidechain is still processing more than up-and-coming networks such as Avalanche and Fantom.

Nansen data journalist Martin Lee said the report offers a glimpse into a particular multi-chain future, one where many layer 1 blockchains focus on specific use cases out of necessity.

“A lot of blockchains, whether they like it or not, will specialize. Even though creators might not plan for it, developers will force them to go a separate way, purely because of the trade-offs different chains have – developers will be attractive to developers for specific reasons,” he said.

Axie’s reach

Axie Infinity – the crown jewel of crypto’s still-nascent “play-to-earn” sector – has 2.8 million daily active users, and as a result, Ronin is processing 40% more transactions than Avalanche, one of the most popular layer 1s by transaction volume.

Lee noted that this figure was achieved in spite of typhoon season disrupting player activities in the Philippines, home to nearly half of Axie’s users.

Active users on Axie's Ronin network (Nansen)
Active users on Axie's Ronin network (Nansen)

The vast majority of the transactions are worth less than $1,000, and fees are free on the chain for up to 100 transactions.

“What stood out to me was the sheer number of transactions on the chain relative to other layer 1 solutions like Avalanche or Fantom,” Lee said. “That alone is a signal for other, similar layer 2s to be created. If one single game demands so much out of the underlying blockchain, what happens when a chain is home to multiple games?”

Polygon’s proof-of-stake chain recently got a taste of what game-related congestions can look like. Transaction costs, which can often be fractions of a cent, ran as high as $0.50, and users griped about failed transactions for days – all because a simple farming simulator game clogged the chain with bot activity.

Additionally, Ronin users are engaging with advanced decentralized finance (DeFi) functionality by depositing into decentralized exchange liquidity pools and Axie’s staking module, despite having lower account balances – a trend that would be unlikely to play out on most layer 1s due to fees.

“These users would be priced out of using Uniswap, for example,” Lee said, referring to an automated market maker.


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Andrew Thurman

Andrew Thurman was a tech reporter at CoinDesk with a focus on DeFi.