Last week, Yuga Labs’ massive Otherdeed NFT mint, for virtual land deeds in the Bored Ape Yacht Club metaverse realm Otherside, clogged the Ethereum mainnet with transaction demand. This triggered a gas war and network chaos that could have been prevented altogether, according to E.G. Galano, the co-founder and general manager of Ethereum infrastructure provider Infura.
While Yuga Labs saw $561 million in trading volume in just 24 hours, the mint became the sixth-largest source of burned Ethereum ever, as collectors burnt more than $157 million in ETH on April 30. The mint was dubbed a “nightmare scenario” for buyers, as thousands of transactions failed. Yuga later refunded those with failed transactions.
If you ask Galano, much of this chaos was just blockchain history repeating itself.
“It’s very reminiscent of some of the early NFT projects, whether that’s CryptoKitties or some of the early ICOs, that didn’t bake in a mechanism to try to spread out that load over a larger amount of time,” Galano said in an interview with Decrypt. “There’s a few different mechanisms that people have used so that it’s not like everybody has to rush to get their transaction in on the very first block when the sale is live.”
While Yuga Labs implied that the Ethereum mainnet was to blame, Galano sees the blockchain as having worked as intended.
“For what happened to the network itself, that’s just the transaction throughput on the network, and the gas price auction working as intended,” he said. “There’s a limited amount of capacity for transaction throughput when you’re dealing with any decentralized blockchain.”
In his view, the Otherdeed chaos was preventable if the Yuga Labs team had put in more legwork to prepare for the enormous demand of the mint.
Infura recently assisted the PROOF team with the highly successful mint of Moonbirds NFTs. Galano cited the Moonbirds team’s focus on pre-registrations as one key factor for why that mint went so smoothly. The PROOF team also “proactively reached out” to Infura beforehand to help assess and address any potential backend issues.
Despite Otherdeed transactions clogging the Ethereum mainnet almost immediately, users kept on trying to mint. In the wake of the fiasco, many NFT collectors wonder whether super-high-demand NFT mints like Otherdeed will continue to cause problems on Ethereum, and what can be done to solve it.
Galano points to the current speculative nature of NFT PFP collecting as part of the problem.
“My opinion on how gas auctions like this will go is it’s heavily impacted by the speculative nature of the market right now, where there’s really no set floor price for a lot of these things—or if there is, it’s wildly volatile,” Galano said. “And people are looking at these NFTs as collectibles, so some of them have a much different investment thesis that sets their price tolerance for that gas fee much higher than others.”
Otherdeed’s hiccups could have also been prevented by launching the NFTs on an Ethereum Layer-2 blockchain with a higher block gas limit, like Polygon, Galano suggested.
But at the same time, the Infura exec is so bullish on Ethereum that he doesn’t think any of the rival chains are really necessary. He cited Ethereum’s anticipated merge and move to proof of stake, optimistic rollups, and sharding as measures that will increase the network’s capacity.
“My controversial view is that everything could exist on Ethereum, from a technical perspective,” Galano said. “There’s nothing that’s being done outside of Ethereum that couldn’t be adopted within Ethereum. But you could argue that there are things that were done on Ethereum that could’ve been done on Bitcoin if people were willing to make the changes to the Bitcoin protocol to make that happen.”