Immutable X is a layer-2 scaling network built on top of Ethereum, the leading blockchain for decentralized applications. Developed by the Web3 firm Immutable via tech created by StarkWare, Immutable X uses the native ERC-20 token IMX and hosts a number of different blockchain games on its network like Gods Unchained, Guild of Guardians, Illuvium, and Ember Sword, to name a few.

While Ethereum proponents argue that its mainnet is among the most decentralized and secure of all cryptocurrencies, it’s also historically suffered from high gas fees and long waits to make transactions. This has long caused friction with NFT creators like those behind the CryptoKitties, who once clogged the mainnet with their digital cats and made it virtually unusable. 

Because NFTs—unique blockchain tokens that signify ownership—are currently so essential to blockchain games, it’s unfeasible for most game developers to build on the Ethereum mainnet. That’s where layer-2 solutions like Immutable X come in, plus Immutable is expanding with another new zkEVM scaling network ahead. Here’s what you need to know about the Immutable platform.

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What is Immutable X?

Immutable X is a gaming-focused protocol that’s built atop the Ethereum mainnet’s security, but with the speed and lower transaction costs of a layer-2 scaling network. In other words, it provides additional benefits on top of the Ethereum mainnet.

According to Immutable X’s whitepaper, the network allows users to make transactions with zero gas fees. This is partly possible due to Immutable X’s use of StarkWare’s ZK rollup technology which bundles transactions and can enable over 9,000 NFT transactions per second. 

Who created Immutable X?

Immutable is the main Web3 firm behind the Immutable X protocol. The company is part blockchain developer and part game publisher, as Immutable developed the NFT card-battling game Gods Unchained and is publishing the action role-playing game Guild of Guardians.

Per Crunchbase data, Immutable has raised nearly $280 million in funding from 32 investors as of January 2024, with firms like Tencent, GameStop Digital Ventures, King River Capital, and the now-defunct Alameda Research investing.

How does Immutable X work?

Immutable X supports all Ethereum wallets, such as MetaMask and Coinbase Wallet. Users can also create an Immutable Passport to transact on the network. Immutable Passport is designed to be a streamlined and more approachable crypto wallet for gamers, plus it provides a unified identity across games.

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The protocol itself sits on top of the Ethereum mainnet, allowing for Immutable X to leverage the mainnet’s decentralization and security for finalizing transactions. But because Immutable X uses ZK rollups, its transactions on its layer-2 network are still able to be fast and cost-effective. 

Immutable has built multiple REST application programming interfaces (APIs), meaning they are APIs that adhere to a specific set of architectural standards. Immutable’s REST APIs mean that transactions can consist of an API call, which takes less time than engaging with a protocol directly via a smart contract. 

Who's using Immutable X?

A number of different NFT marketplaces and game developers have chosen to offer their products and services on ImmutableX. In June 2022, Immutable Ventures established a massive $500 million fund to invest in Web3 gaming projects being built on Immutable X and to also provide various developers with grant-based funding.

Rarible, Mintable, NFTrade, TokenTrove, OKX, and Kinguin are NFT marketplaces that use Immutable X. Brick-and-mortar video game retailer GameStop also launched its NFT marketplace on Immutable X in 2022, but has since discontinued its own crypto wallet and has said that it will shut down its marketplace in February 2024.

Games like IMVU, Guild of Guardians, Habbo, Cross the Ages, Undead Blocks, Ember Sword, Planet Quest, Gods Unchained, WAGMI Defense, and Tiny Colony are building their Web3 elements on Immutable X.

As the world of Web3 gaming heats up, Immutable X faces competition with other blockchains like Polygon, Avalanche, Arbitrum Nova, Sui, and Solana to offer a fast and seamless gaming experience.

What is Immutable zkEVM?

Immutable is developing more than just Immutable X as its Ethereum gaming platform expands. In March 2023, the firm announced that it is working with competitor Polygon to develop a new Immutable zkEVM scaling network that combines Polygon zkEVM technology with Immutable’s gaming platform.

A number of games have already announced that they’ll be using the Immutable zkEVM, from MetalCore to Shardbound and Elemental Knights. According to an Immutable blog post, the zkEVM network provides native compatibility with Ethereum Virtual Machine smart contracts, potentially making it easier for developers to port over from EVM chains and utilize an array of third-party tools.

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As the Immutable platform grows, the IMX token has become the most valuable gaming token as of this writing, with a market cap of nearly $2.7 billion. That makes it the 37th largest overall cryptocurrency by market cap according to data from CoinGecko, as of January 17, 2024.

Edited by Andrew Hayward

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