Blockchain Games Are Starting To Look Like Miniature Economies
Blockchain games are starting to look like miniature economies, with markets, monetary policies, even collateralized lending. In thte article below we explore the OpenSea project, which is the largest marketplace for digital assets on the Ethereum blockchain.
OPENSEA: THE LARGEST MARKETPLACE FOR DIGITAL ASSETS ON THE ETHEREUM BLOCKCHAIN
Blockchain technology is giving people the opportunity to have a true ownership of digital collectibles. However, as more and more decentralized applications are created, it’s becoming harder to manage all of your digital assets. There is a need to have one place to manage all your digital collectibles. OpenSea is a project that provides such functionality. It allows buying, selling and trading the digital assets. Coinist.io was lucky enough to be able to interview Devin Finzer, the CEO of the project. In the interview below he’ll explain the core concept behind the OpenSea marketplace and shared his opinion about our decentralized future. Without further ado, let‘s jump into the interview!
Could you briefly describe the OpenSea project? What’s it all about? How can the average user use it? What things are necessary to get started?
OpenSea is the first peer-to-peer marketplace for blockchain-based items, which include collectibles, gaming items, and other assets traded on a blockchain. It’s a truly open, decentralized marketplace that allows people to buy and sell all sorts of digital items. We work closely with game developers to allow them to easily use OpenSea as an instant marketplace. Developers can immediately get a customizable marketplace for their items with our developer integrations, without having to worry about building any of the auctioning infrastructure themselves.
In the long run, we want to continue building out the best marketplace for buyers, sellers, creators, and developers. We’ve added advanced auctioning features like eBay-style bidding, the ability to create auctions without paying gas, and many more to come!
How did you come up with such an idea?
Alex and I previously worked at tech companies in the Bay Area (Palantir, Pinterest, and Credit Karma) and had separate consumer startups that got acquired. We decided to team up and do some crypto hackathons to get our feet wet with Ethereum and quickly became excited about the new type digital ownership happening with blockchain-based games. When we started joining the discords and playing these games ourselves, we immediately saw a market need for an open marketplace.
What makes this DApp unique, and how does it differ from other DApps in the marketplace?
We’re currently the largest general marketplace, with over 1,000 ETH exchanged, over 1 million assets supported, and over 50 different types of items. Our core focus is how can we provide the best tools and the best liquidity to the new decentralized apps and projects that are coming into the space. While we’re highly focused on building the best customer experience, we also see ourselves as a core piece of infrastructure for the dApp ecosystem to mature.
Your DApp only supports crypto collectables that “live” on the Ethereum Blockchain. Are you planning to add integrations with other Blockchains?
While our focus is on Ethereum at the moment, we’re very open to building on other blockchains. We remain excited about the Ethereum ecosystem as we’re seeing great developer adoption there.
There are already over 40 categories supported on your platform. What are the requirements to appear in your marketplace and are you planning to limit the categories in the future? Are you planning to charge users fees?
There’s definitely starting to be a discovery problem in the space. Our requirements are that the project is legitimate, well-intentioned, and legal, but these may be more stringent in the future. While we do not have immediate plans to charge fees to be listed, there are a number of interesting business models we could explore.
How do you deal with DApps that ask to list assets that are not fully on-chain, do you reject them or reach some kind of agreement?
We currently only list items that store ownership on-chain, but there are many dApps that have some off-chain components. Often times the gameplay itself takes place off-chain, and metadata is nearly always stored off-chain. That’s totally fine with us; they can still be traded on OpenSea!
Are there any parts of your system that are stored off-chain?
The settlement of an order is entirely on-chain, but the order signatures themselves are stored off-chain. This dramatically reduces gas costs for users. You can read more about how this works here.
Could you tell more about the team behind the project? How many people are working on this project and what are their roles?
We are a team with backgrounds from Stanford, Palantir, Google, and Pinterest, funded by YCombinator, Founders Fund, Coinbase Ventures, 1Confirmation, Blockstack, and Blockchain Capital. Alex (OpenSea’s CTO) was the CTO of hostess.fm, which was acquired by Beatport in 2014. He previously worked at Palantir building cybersecurity products. Devin (OpenSea’s CEO) has a background in software engineering at Google and Pinterest, and sold his previous company, Claimdog, to Credit Karma. You can read a little more about our story here.
We’re actively hiring our founding engineering team! If you’re interested, check out our job descriptions here.
Currently, we see that Blockchain DApps (especially games) do not have many users. What do you think is the main reason for this? Do you think that this could change in the future? If yes, what factors could increase DApp popularity?
I think there are a couple reasons. One is that the friction to entering the ecosystem is still relatively high: you have to get Ether, install Metamask, and learn how gas works. Those are all pretty big hurdles for the average consumer.
Additionally, there are still a lot of scaling challenges that need to be solved. Adding complex gameplay logic on-chain is currently difficult, and throughput of the network overall is very limited.
Fortunately, there are teams working on both areas! I think we’re in a really exciting period where the app layer is starting to push the limits of the underlying infrastructure layer, which incentivizes teams to build new scaling solutions to accommodate user needs.
Are there any future updates planned? What are your thoughts about the future of the OpenSea?
We just released a ton of new features: the ability to bid on any crypto collectible, sell items without paying gas, as well as a ton of tools for developers. We have a bunch of new marketplace features planned that will allow people to buy and sell items in more advanced ways on OpenSea.
Most excitingly, we’re opening up the OpenSea SDK, so that folks can build their own buying and selling experiences on top of OpenSea’s technology.
What do you think about the future of the Ethereum and Blockchain technology as a whole?
It’s very exciting! We think blockchain has great early product market fit in gaming: it’s basically a giant shared database that anyone can build on, trustlessly. But we also think gaming is only the beginning. These games are starting to look like miniature economies, with markets, monetary policies, even collateralized lending. We see gaming as how blockchain technology breaks into everyday people’s lives and fundamentally changes the ownership model of the internet.
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