Why a ‘Tiny’ NFT Game Is Ditching Solana for Ethereum’s Immutable X

The ongoing crypto winter has been painful for the entire industry, but 2022 was particularly rough for Solana. The collapse of FTX and Alameda Research, which were closely linked to and financially entrenched in the Solana ecosystem, accelerated a decline in a year marked by technical issues and high-profile hacks.

Although Solana hosts a thriving NFT ecosystem and growing gaming push, the turbulent times and 94% token price plunge have pushed some creators to look for greener pastures elsewhere. Solana game Tiny Colony is the latest project to chart a move to another blockchain, following a similar announcement from the creator of DeGods and y00ts.

Tiny Colony developer Tinyverse Games announced its plan today to move its still-in-development NFT game—a blockchain-based construction and management simulator—from the Solana blockchain to Ethereum scaling network, Immutable X.

“Immutable has been very gaming-focused since the beginning,” Tinyverse co-founder and CEO Arshia Navabi told Decrypt. “They have an amazing development team and incredible technology focused around gaming.”

In Tiny Colony, players must build and manage underground humanoid ant colonies, and strategically farm, mine, hatch larvae, and defend their colony to survive. Players earn NFTs that can be used in-game or traded on marketplaces. An early version of the game was launched for testers on Solana last summer, but the full version will now debut later this year on Immutable X.

Tiny Colony is a relatively small project compared to Ethereum games that have respectively yielded over a billion dollars or more worth of NFT sales, such as Axie Infinity and the Bored Ape Yacht Club’s Otherside.

The project originally launched via Solana marketplace Fractal and has generated more than $3 million worth of NFT sales to date, according to Tinyverse. The game’s NFTs currently start at less than $5 worth of SOL apiece on the secondary market.

An NFT is a blockchain token that represents a unique item. In video games, that can mean things like in-game characters, accessories, digital land plots, and more. Elsewhere, NFTs are used for things like profile pictures (PFPs), artwork, sports and entertainment collectibles, and access passes to exclusive events and experiences.

Navabi told Decrypt that Tiny Colony will let current Solana NFT holders swap for an Immutable X version of the same asset through a process it’s calling a “burn-in mint.” More details on the redemption process will be shared “over the next month or so” as the technical process is finalized with help from Immutable X developers.

Why Immutable X?

Immutable is both the creator of the Immutable X network and the developer of the NFT-based card game, Gods Unchained. Immutable X is a layer-2 scaling solution that enables faster and cheaper transactions than Ethereum’s own mainnet. Navabi said that Immutable’s focus on gaming and the player experience was an ideal fit for Tiny Colony.

Considered by some to be an “Ethereum killer,” Solana has been a prominent alternative destination builders for decentralized apps (dapps) and NFTs, due to low fees and the ability to handle a larger bulk of transactions per second than Ethereum’s own mainnet.

But the buzz that Solana garnered in 2021 didn’t sustain throughout 2022, with network outages, increasing competition, and NFT market turmoil apparently helping to fuel a sharp decline in the token price. SOL has fallen from a November 2021 peak of $260 to a current price of around $16—a much steeper drop than leading cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum.

Tinyverse previously commented on Solana’s decline in a November tweet thread, writing that it while it didn’t lose funds in the FTX collapse, it has “significant SOL reserves that we’ll need to hold onto for a longer timeframe while the value of SOL and the market recovers.”

“Don’t get me wrong, Solana was an incredible starting point for us. We got everything we have today because of [Solana],” Navabi told Decrypt. However, when Tinyverse began discussions with Immutable and learned about its future plans and focus on games and NFTs, Navabi said he “immediately got hooked.”

Founded in 2021, Tinyverse consists of gaming, film, and TV veterans that have worked on projects for Netflix, Disney, Amazon Prime, and Paramount, as well as gaming brands EA, Capcom, and PlayStation.

Although Ethereum’s own technical limitations make it too slow and expensive for many Web3 games, scaling networks like Immutable X and Polygon have increasingly been embraced by creators to enable games that allow for user-owned assets without significant transaction fees along the way.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Tiny Colony to the rapidly growing Immutable X family and provide the team with our full suite of tools and solutions to make the game as accessible, engaging, and performant as possible,” Immutable VP of Global Business Development Andrew Sorokovsky said in a statement.

Immutable X’s lack of gas fees for completing transactions was a key reason for the move, Navabi said, calling the network user-friendly for traditional (or Web2) gamers who may not understand what using gas means.

“Game developers and producers should stop expecting Web2 gamers to understand these elements, and just try to make this a very good landing home for them—and make our Web3 games a very familiar space for them,” he said. Navabi added that he believes Immutable X’s “strategies, timelines, and focus are very aligned with that.”

Solana exodus?

Tiny Colony’s pivot comes less than a month after DeLabs announced that two of Solana’s top PFP projects, DeGods and y00ts, will bridge to other platforms.

Details on the process are still unclear, but DeGods will shift to Ethereum and y00ts will migrate to Polygon, with the latter move facilitated by a $3 million grant from Polygon Labs (formerly Polygon Studios). Polygon Labs has reportedly tried recruiting other Solana projects, as well, with president Ryan Wyatt acknowledging in a tweet reply in December that the team has “reached out to many projects across multiple chains.”

Navabi said that while Tinyverse did not receive direct funding for its move, Immutable will provide a grant of IMX tokens based on project milestones hit once it’s live on Immutable X. He claimed, however, that moving away from Solana to a new home was never about the money.

“That wasn’t our focus,” he said. “If our focus were money, then we would go to Polygon or these different blockchains that offer massive dollar incentives for us to switch over.”

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