Blockchain technology was invented a decade ago. You can look at that fact from two angles. You can quite reasonably say that groundbreaking technology in general requires at least a few decades before it becomes an inevitable part of society. During its first decade, new technology is inevitably on the fringes, improving and iterating upon itself until it finds a use case with great yield.
But you can also quite reasonably say that a decade is a good amount of time for any technology, and express surprise that blockchain technology isn’t omnipresent yet. After all, social media companies only needed around a decade to go from nothing to world domination. So how come not more companies have jumped on the blockchain bandwagon?
While the full answer to that question is complex, part of the answer is that the fundamental infrastructure and the tools to create value through blockchain technology aren’t accessible enough yet. They’re not easy to use, don’t provide enough value, or don’t make it easy enough for people to understand what they offer.
That’s what the Waves Platform wants to change. But how? What are some of the products they’re already offering? And how can it impact the gaming industry? Continue reading to find out.
Waves was founded by Russian physicist and now-CEO, Sasha Ivanov, in 2016. Its mission is to reinvent the DNA of entrepreneurship around the world. It wants to provide a shared infrastructure that offers easy-to-use and highly functional tools, so blockchain becomes readily available for every person or company that wants to make use of it.
Already, Waves has a number of products that make it easy to use certain blockchain functionality. Its primary product helps you issue custom application tokens (CATs). Secondly, Waves has a decentralized exchange (DEX) where you can trade those tokens, along with well-known cryptocurrencies and even some fiat currencies. Thirdly, Waves has a smart contract programming language called RIDE that allows developers to quickly program blockchain solutions for problems. Let’s go over these products each in turn.
What Are Custom Application Tokens?
Before they started on Waves, a few of the founding members of Waves worked on a blockchain project called Nxt. Launched in 2013, Nxt was a cryptocurrency and a payment platform that allowed anyone to create their own blockchain token. It used Proof of Stake (PoS) to reach consensus for transactions, which was contrary to the Proof of Work (PoW) consensus algorithms that most other blockchains used at the time.
Nxt’s features were powerful, but the platform wasn’t very user-friendly. While you could launch your own token without the need of a third party and trade those tokens with other people, it was a slow process and there was no guarantee a trade would occur in real-time. Additionally, every trade needed to go through Nxt’s internal currency, which meant a BTC-USD trade on the Nxt platform wasn’t just simply BTC to USD, but BTC to NXT and NXT to USD.
Inefficiencies such as the above led Sasha Ivanov to leave the Nxt team and create a better solution in the form of Waves. Ivanov wanted to avoid the mistake of the Nxt platform and wanted to make Waves as easily and immediately usable as possible. Launching and trading a custom token should be a few clicks away and should require no technical knowledge from the side of the end user.
As you can see from the screenshot above, Waves succeeded in this. You can create a custom token in less than three clicks. You can do it using their online client, a desktop client or even on your mobile device, whether iOS or Android. Creating a custom token costs 1 WAVES, or $2.71 as of today.
Custom application tokens are ideal for crowdfunded projects, for simple ICOs and for loyalty programs. In his whitepaper, Ivanov gives the example of a Kickstarter project. Today, you support a project on Kickstarter by sending money to it. In exchange, and depending on the amount you gave, you’ll eventually receive the product that the project wants to create.
But there’s no way for you to sell the promise of that future product to another user. You gave the money and your address was recorded in some sort of back-end database that will be used when the product is ready and when it needs to be sent to the people who gave money. But that’s it. You received nothing in exchange.
A custom application token created on a blockchain allows such a project to send tokens to the people who fund them. These tokens will have a value and can be traded against other tokens, or against fiat currencies. The token will rise or fall in value depending on the developments of the project. You’ll send $500 to that backpack project on Kickstarter and you’ll receive 500 backpack tokens in return, which you can keep or trade.
This works similarly for venture capital. Investors who want to invest in an early-stage startup can be given a certain amount of tokens in exchange. It makes such an investment a bit less risky, considering these tokens are more liquid (i.e. more easily tradeable) than regular shares in an unlisted, early-stage startup.
The ability to create CATs was launched in December 2017. Today, over 20,000 CATs have been created. So it seems to have caught on. Of course, that’s not just because it’s easy to create CATs. It’s also because you can easily trade them. Enter Waves’s DEX.
How to Trade These Custom Tokens
Waves states on its website that it’s built the world’s fastest DEX. It has an average 24h volume of over $6,000,000, extremely low fees of less than $0.01 per order and an easy-to-navigate UI. On the platform, you can trade BTC, BCH, ETH, WAVES, ZEC, XMR, DASH, LTC, and fiat currencies EUR, USD, and TRY.
Contrary to the Nxt platform, Waves’s DEX allows you to trade directly between pairs of currencies. It’s also secure, because funds are stored directly in a crypto wallet and because the exchange is entirely decentralized. There’s no admin that can freeze your funds or limit your trades and withdrawals. The end user has complete control.
Compared to some of the other DEXs I’ve used in the past, this one is indeed fast and easy to use. Plus, it’s incredibly cheap. Placing a market order has a fixed fee of 0.003 WAVES and transferring funds has a minimum fee of 0.001 WAVES. And I like it a lot because it allows for fiat trades. No longer do you need to buy ETH or BTC on Coinbase first before you can start trading on it. Although this does mean you need to comply with KYC/AML regulations for fiat trades, it’s a fair tradeoff to make. Crypto-to-crypto trades are entirely anonymous.
You can access this DEX through Waves’s web client and even through their mobile app. There’s no complicated sign-up anywhere. Waves has taken its philosophy of “keep things simple” to heart, and it’s a seamless experience from beginning to end.
RIDE is Waves’s programming language for smart contracts. Contrary to Ethereum’s Solidity, Ride is Turing-incomplete. This means it doesn’t require a variable amount of gas to execute smart contracts. Instead, Ride charge a minimal, flat fee, which is much more user-friendly and inherently much more predictable.
A few use cases are detailed in the Ride whitepaper. One such use case is multi-signature wallets, where a certain amount of tokens can be frozen on the blockchain until all the signatures of the participants are collected. This is a secure way to deal with tokens and smart contracts for participants that don’t fully trust each other. Other use cases are the ability to build decentralized apps (DApps) on the blockchain, as well as atomic swaps (instant token exchanges between two parties).
The Waves ICO and Cryptocurrency
Waves ICOd in June 2016, raising over $16 million. The price saw an all-time high in January 2018, reaching $16, before dropping down to what it $2.71 today. Considering the price started out at around $1.30 when it ICOd, you would have more than doubled your money in just under three years.
There are 100 million WAVES in circulation, giving it a market cap of over $270 million and making it rank #21 on CoinMarketCap.
Waves In More Technical Detail
The Waves blockchain uses the Waves-NG protocol, which allows the Waves platform to process thousands of transactions per minute (a few hundred per second). On October 23 of 2018, the Waves blockchain processed 6.1 million transactions on its MainNet, more than any other open blockchain in existence (e.g. Ethereum, XRP, and EOS).
Being able to process so many transactions means that the Waves platform is both capable of handling micro-transactions as well as the high loads that are commonly associated with popular games or popular ICOs.
Waves has a two-tier architecture, with lightweight nodes and full nodes. Lightweight nodes never have to download the blockchain. They can rely on the full nodes for transaction confirmations and for confirmations on the network. To make sure there’s enough trust between the lightweight and full nodes, Waves uses the Scorex platform, a modular blockchain framework
I like this, because I’ve had problems in the past where I needed to download an entire blockchain before I could start playing a game. Blockchains are easily dozens of GBs big and take a serious toll on both your bandwidth and computing power as you download it. Not having to download the full blockchain in exchange for trusting full nodes seems like another very fair tradeoff to make.
Waves verifies its transactions using an enhancement of the Proof of Stake protocol. They call it Leased Proof of Stake (LPoS), which is a mechanism where lightweight nodes lease the stake they hold to full nodes. This means that lightweight nodes have an increased chance to collect transaction fees (because they don’t have to be online all the time) and full nodes have an increased chance of mining a block (because of their increased token balance). This leads to a lower number of full nodes, and so faster confirmation times, lower latency, and higher system throughput.
Waves for Blockchain Gaming
First of all, let’s simply acknowledge that the Waves platform is useful for game developers because it allows them to issue a token that they can use to ask for investment. Secondly, the Waves blockchain is fast and can handle a large number of transactions, and it has RIDE, a smart contract language that requires a fixed fee instead of a variable amount of gas to execute smart contracts. Additionally, Waves is giving 1 million WAVES tokens to developers building DApps on their platform.
These are all reasons for game developers to build DGames on the Waves platform. Ride itself is still quite young, so there are very few games on the platform at this moment. But Waves seems eager to have people start building DGames on their platform, as evidenced by this recent tweet from Ivanov.
That’s not to say there are no games on the Waves platform. Fhloston Paradise is a cyberpunk game that runs entirely on the Waves platform. You need the Waves Keeper browser extension and at least 1.2 WAVES in your wallet to start playing. It’s a simple game: there’s a counter, and every time a player enters the game, the counter is reset to sixty blocks (around sixty minutes). If the counter reaches zero, the last player to have entered wins the full jackpot. As you can see, when I took the screenshot, there was a balance of around $10,920 in the jackpot, with 17 blocks to go.
Waves is a promising project. They have a good track record of delivering on their promises with good, viable products. They have a healthy GitHub and active social media channels. Additionally, they’ve partnered with big companies such as Microsoft (to build an extension to popular text editor VS Code), Wirex (a UK-based digital money platform), and Lloyds (to provide a service to help companies with their ICO).
Many of its features are still quite young, so I’m expecting a good bit of growth from Waves in 2019. They might not be as loud in their marketing as a project like TRON, but they’ve built an excellent platform that’s easy to use and can compete with the best blockchain projects out there.