Samsung’s flagship S10 smartphone has many firsts for the South Korean conglomerate. It has a giant, almost bezel-less screen, can charge other devices, will (eventually) support 5G, and, it’s the first Samsung phone to come crypto ready.
The S10 will have an inbuilt crypto wallet that supports Ethereum, but not bitcoin as rumors previously suggested. The S10 will also have wallet support for two less-well-known crypto entities, Enjin, a platform for developers to build blockchain-based games and Cosmee, a decentralized application that rewards users for social media influencing in the cosmetics and beauty space.
Enjin’s co-founder and CTO, Witek Radomski spoke to Decrypt via Skype from Vancouver on the eve of the announcement. He wasn’t at liberty to confirm that the gaming blockchain innovation company was partnering with Samsung—the news was confirmed after the call— but he did reveal plenty about Enjin’s next steps.
Samsung’s gaming Enjin
Based in Singapore, Enjin started off ten years ago building content management systems for the gaming industry, but has since shifted its focus to blockchain. The company has built a toolkit for developers to put collectibles—items such as creatures, swords, and armour—on the blockchain. It raised $29 million in its 2017 ICO and has a thriving global community of more than 20 million gamers.
Avatars from Enjin's collaboration with SRF. IMAGE SOURCE: Enjin
Collectibles, or ‘skins’— digital goods from games that can be bought and sold—is a $50 billion business. However, there is little, if any, regulation over how these digital goods are bought and sold, leading to a booming black market for fake digital goods. That’s where blockchain comes in. The combination of transparency and security has lead to a slew of crypto-collectible companies like Cryptokitties, that, since 2017, has raked in $22 million from people buying and selling feline avatars.
“We see so much opportunity there,” said Radomski. “We think we can really make an impact and change the way games are played, which is really exciting.”
United with Unity
Aside from the big news about Samsung, Enjin has also been busy working on other partnerships. Earlier this month, it announced the release of its software development kit (SDK) for Unity, the world’s most popular game development engine. Developers working on Unity can now enable blockchain-based gaming with collectibles.
Enjin has been developing the SDK for Unity for two years and had more than 200 game developers asking to be part of the experiment. These include titles such as 9Lives Arena, a fantasy role-playing game (when you permanently die, you get a statue erected inside the game); War of Crypto, a multiplayer game featuring tradable heroes; Bitcoin Hodler, a 2D mobile game for the crypto community and Age of Rust, a post-apocalyptic, sci-fi adventure game.
"With War of Crypto, you purchase pets—there’s one called a Lambo Mooner, which is a dog with a backpack,” explains Radomski, talking us through how the collectibles concept works. “You put them into a battle arena and fight them against each other. Each one of these unique creatures is a token in your wallet—one might have more attack power, another more defense or special abilities. And you can evolve them to make larger, more powerful creatures.”
He adds that each of the collectibles is also “infused” with Enjin Coin (ENJ), Enjin’s own cryptocurrency. The idea being that eventually, collectibles in one game can be traded for collectibles in the other, with ENJ acting as a conduit.
To Efinity and beyond
To date, slow throughput on blockchains has held back gaming-based blockchain development. Presently, gamers have to wait patiently for creatures to be born and the corresponding tokens to appear in their wallets. But developers are finding crafty new ways to scale more rapidly.
Enjin’s developers have been focusing on off-chain scaling solutions for games built on Ethereum. Its solution, called Efinity will not only improve transaction speeds, says Radomski, but also promises to do away with the need for cryptocurrencies or transactions fees to send or receive items, a big step to enticing gamers to get into crypto-backed collectibles.
Efinity is planned for an early beta release in the first half of 2019, says Radomski. Enjin is aiming, initially, for 200 transactions per second—a huge improvement over what Ethereum can do natively on the main net, and that’s just a primary goal.
Enjin already has a gaming focused wallet where tokens can be traded and stored. The startup is also building EnjinX, a blockchain explorer so that users can easily access and track all the booty they collect.
Engineered-thymus. Avatars from Enjin's collaboration with SRF. IMAGE SOURCE: Enjin
Gaming in perpetuity
But Enjin also has ambitions to extend its sphere of influence beyond gaming, and, in fact, beyond natural life itself. The startup is working on a platform to gamify and track donations to charities. Its first partnership, with the SENS Research Foundation (SRF), creates unique avatars every time someone donates, that can then be traded with others.
“There’s only going to be a limited amount of these,” says Ramomski. “It’s a way for people who donate to get some cool benefits from their donation.”
When a donor contributes, they will receive one of the virtual collectibles to represent their donation. Collectibles can be actively traded, with donors encouraged to collect specific sets and create portfolios to unlock special rewards. Users will be able to trace their donations to charities on the blockchain and Enjin are also working with game developers to imbue the charitable tokens with extra powers or other advantages within a game.
“There’s a lot of people in this space who are into cryptocurrency and life extension, says Radomski. “I guess it’s because we’re all futurists. Cryptocurrency will survive forever. We want to see what the future will bring. It’s really exciting stuff.”
Ethereum cofounder, Vitalik Buterin famously made a personal donation of $2.4 million Ether to SRF and there are further parallels with the crypto world and life extension: Hal Finney, an early bitcoin pioneer, was cryonically preserved when he died in 2014.
Natural-killer-cell. IAvatars from Enjin's collaboration with SRF. MAGE SOURCE: Enjin
Gaming innovation to the fore
Radomski believes that the gaming industry will be, ultimately, what drives innovation in blockchain.
“Who doesn’t want to work on games?” he asks. “They’re so creative and artistic. Whenever there’s a new technology, game designers jump onto it and try to use it. It’s a space where a lot of the innovation is going to happen, a lot of the new ideas are going to get tried out in a game.”
Enjin is trying to position itself at the vanguard of this movement. Their tools to create blockchain-anchored collectibles can be merged with other innovations in gameplay—geolocation (think Pokémon Go), tokens, trading, and virtual reality—to make new kinds of gaming experiences never seen before.
“This is going to be changing the way people operate in society,” says Radomski. “People will be able to control their assets, they won’t have to ask permission, they won’t be blocked or banned or censored. It’s extremely powerful, that’s why people are so excited about blockchain.”
And people are getting VERY excited about Enjin, the startup’s token, was up 70 percent on the news of its partnership with Samsung.
Decrypt also reached out to Enjin’s fellow Samsung partner, Cosmee. But we received no reply. Maybe they were too busy beautifying themselves for the big times ahead.