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What Is Ronin zkEVM? Understanding the Next Big Gaming L2

Why Ronin zkEVM is a major development in the crypto gaming scene
William M. Peaster William M. Peaster Jun 18, 20244 min read
What Is Ronin zkEVM? Understanding the Next Big Gaming L2

Ronin, which started as an Ethereum sidechain, now boasts north of 1 million daily active users (DAUs) and supports a growing ecosystem of games beyond just Axie Infinity. 

Yet as Ronin blooms, so will its blockspace demands. As a singular sidechain, its capabilities can only go so far. 

That’s why the network’s builders, Sky Mavis, just announced they’re working on the Ronin zkEVM, a solution for games to launch their own Layer 2 (L2) chains on Ronin. 

This is one of the biggest developments announced in crypto gaming this year, so let’s break down all the basics. 

What is Ronin zkEVM?

via Ronin

Today, Sky Mavis introduced the Ronin zkEVM, a forthcoming zk-rollup L2 compatible with the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). 

The team, which is eyeing a Q1 2025 release, are building the network with a modified version of the Polygon Chain Development Kit (CDK). It’s envisioned to serve as a hub of chains, meaning games can use this CDK to launch custom L2s atop the new Ronin L2. 

To deploy their own zkEVM chains in this way, ecosystem teams will need to stake 250,000 RON, or ~$600k at current prices, to align incentives between their L2s and the main Ronin chain. 

Notably, a cross-chain relayer system will also allow players to seamlessly interact across different Ronin ecosystem chains without performing multiple transactions manually. 

Why Ronin zkEVM?

via Ronin

Currently, the Ronin sidechain can facilitate millions of daily transactions.

The idea of going wide with zkEVM chains, then, is to get ready to support billions of daily transactions and an ever expanding ecosystem of games. 

Doing this work now also puts Ronin ahead of the curve, as most L2s and L3s will likely be zkEVMs 10 years from now. Making this shift early will undoubtedly bring various advantages. 

Beyond scalability, this new architecture will pave the way for Ronin games to customize their own chain infra per their technical needs and to permissionlessly deploy their own games for faster onboarding. 

Additionally, securing Ronin is set to become more lucrative and thus more robust. 

“Developers will need to meet the 250K RON requirement to run a Ronin validator before launching their chain, and this economic activity … can even increase staking rewards for delegators,” Sky Mavis said in their announcement. 

“Shared security, shared rewards. This means Ronin’s scalability, security, and decentralization will improve together.”

What to watch for?

The first game chains

via Ronin

The titles in the Ronin ecosystem today are now all potential contenders to launch their own game-specific networks. Keep an eye on franchises like Apeiron, CyberKongz, Duet Monsters, Pixels, Puffverse, Ragnorak, and Wild Forest for possible forthcoming announcements here. 

Fully onchain Ronin games

Fully onchain games are games that have no external dependencies outside of the chain they run on. They’re blockchain-based games in the literal sense of that phrase, and they offer interesting new interoperability and modding possibilities. 

That said, onchain games can require many transactions, and Sky Mavis shied away from them previously because of the specter of congestion. The new Ronin zkEVM architecture will render this concern moot and will likely usher in a new wave of onchain games atop Ronin. 

The Innovation Zone

Since the shift to zkEVM will see Ronin become permissionless, anyone will be able to deploy new chains and games on it, including scammers looking to set traps. It will be important to do your own research before diving into new projects, and for that reason Sky Mavis is planning to set up an Innovation Zone initiative to flag high-risk titles for players. 

Embracing AggLayer

via Polygon

Further down the road, Sky Mavis is exploring implementing Polygon’s AggLayer tech to make Ronin’s growing ecosystem of L2s feel more like a single unified chain. 

Specifically, AggLayer leverages zero-knowledge proofs (ZKPs) to create a unified, scalable environment that allows for seamless cross-chain transactions with atomic composability, providing users with smooth UX. Embracing this protocol would likely be Ronin zkEVM’s next big evolution after launching. 

Zooming out

The introduction of Ronin zkEVM is a bold and, in my opinion, smart move by the Sky Mavis team. 

Ronin is already the dominant gaming chain in the cryptoeconomy, and this zkEVM evolution positions it to remain highly scalable as an L2 while also handily supporting a blooming ecosystem of customized gaming chains. 

Game devs and players will have more options here, and validator rewards will become more lucrative and thus incentivize better security. Accordingly, this news heralds an exciting time for the Ronin community and also the broader crypto gaming ecosystem. The zkEVM era is beginning!

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William M. Peaster

Written by William M. Peaster

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William M. Peaster, Senior Writer, has been with Bankless since January 2021. Immersed in Ethereum since 2017, he writes the Metaversal newsletter on the onchain frontier, covering everything from AI projects to crypto games, as the team’s lead NFT analyst. With a background in creative writing, he writes fiction and publishes art on Ethereum in his free time. He lives in Washington.

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