polygon And immutableboth heavyweights in the ether Scaling Room, join forces to create a new network built specifically for this Web3 Games powered by Polygon’s expected zkEVM technology.

Today, Polygon Labs and Immutable announced a “strategic alliance” to work together to create Immutable zkEVM, a new Ethereum scaling network that will pair the upcoming Polygon zkEVM technology with the Immutable platform built for blockchain-based games. The news was announced at the start of the annual Game Developers Conference (GDC).

To be clear, Polygon and Immutable will not merge and will continue their respective projects and initiatives. Polygon’s own zkEVM mainnet network is scheduled to launch in beta on March 27, while the existing Immutable X scaling network – based on StarkEx zk rollup tech– will also continue alongside the new Immutable zkEVM network.

Immutable co-founder and President Robbie Ferguson narrates decrypt that the partnership waThis is an “obvious move” that will allow the core builders behind both existing networks to pool their efforts at the service of launching Web3 video games.

“This is the final for us,” Ferguson said. “This is how the next billion users will be integrated into Web3.”

Both are Ethereum scaling networks: Polygon’s current primary network is a sidechain, while Immutable X is a Layer 2 network. Although the approaches are different, both ultimately make Ethereum more useful for things like large-scale video gaming NFT projects and others decentralized apps (dapps) by enabling faster and cheaper transactions than Ethereum’s mainnet.

A zkEVM solution like Polygon and others aim to take Ethereum scaling to the next level, pairing transaction rollups based on zero-knowledge-proof cryptography with full Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) support. In other words, it’s billed as a fast and secure solution that’s natively compatible with Ethereum’s smart contract Capabilities.

However, Immutable X and Polygon are competing scaling networks and have previously struggled to attract developers, brands and users alike.

Polygon Labs President Ryan Wyatt admitted as much decrypt that discussing a common way forward was initially a bit awkward when the two sides started talking some nine months ago.

“When we first got together — yeah, it sure was hard to deal with,” Wyatt said. “It took time for both sides to figure out, okay, how does that actually make sense to all of us? The more we talked and the more time we spent together, the more naturally it all came together.”

Ferguson said that despite their history as competitors, both Polygon and Immutable X were trying to scale Ethereum rather than trying to compete against it as a layer 1 rival. This shared belief in expanding Ethereum’s capabilities, rather than trying to surpass it with a new, bespoke network, also gave them a common ground to work from.

“[That] made it a very easy philosophical alignment,” Ferguson added, “after moving past the intense competition we’ve had on the gaming front over the last few years.”

Immutable zkEVM is planned for launch towards the end of Q2 2023, Ferguson said. At this point, Immutable is “aiming at usable stuff going live,” but developers can start building software development kits (SDKs) today to explore the technology.

The network will use Immutable’s IMX token for gas fees and transaction sequencing. The current Immutable X network will continue to operate, and Ferguson said his team’s goal is to develop cross-rollup liquidity between the networks.

He also expects bridges to be built, for example to move assets between Immutable zkEVM and Polygon’s own zkEVM network.

Ultimately, the two said they see Immutable zkEVM as the best of both worlds – a network that will leverage Polygon’s next-gen scaling technology while also leveraging the gaming infrastructure Immutable has built, offering a potentially attractive place for developers to to gain a foothold as the Web3 gaming market is expanding.

Despite everything, Wyatt believes Web3 gaming is nearing a point of mainstream acceptance previous pushback by many traditional video game fans. He pointed this weekend’s live event for Polygon-powered shooter Deadrop— from a studio run by Twitch personality Guy “Dr. Disrespect” Beahm – as an example of Web3 games that can gain widespread traction.

As does he recently discussed on decrypt‘s gm podcastWyatt reiterated what he sees as an increasing urge to abstract “a lot of the crypto and tech jargon” surrounding Web3 games and just focus on “really fun games where I own assets that I pay for, I can trade them easily and I can have this really seamless experience.”

“That’s ultimately what the combination of the partnership does,” he said.

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