Sunflower Farmers play-to-earn crypto video game exposes weak link of Cryptocurrency networks
Called Sunflower Farmers, the game lets players earn tokens for planting and harvesting crops, and its increased traction has resulted in so much network usage.
Another immensely popular play-to-earn cryptcurrencyo video game is showing just how fragile and unpredictable blockchains really are. Called Sunflower Farmers, the game lets players earn tokens for planting and harvesting crops, and its increased traction has resulted in so much network usage, it pushed transaction prices on the blockchain it runs on, Polygon PoS, to unheard of highs. Costs are now more than seven times higher than at the end of December, according to data tracker PolygonScan. Sunflower accounts for about 70% of all of the so-called gas used on Polygon by top accounts.
The decentralized gaming, or GameFi craze was kicked into high gear last year by virtual world of Axie Infinity, where players can earn money by winning battles, selling monsters, and staking or lending their digital assets. As Sunflower shows, the number of games and participants is rising rapidly, as many crypto enthusiasts are also avid gamers, and the idea of combining the two passions appeals to many.
The Sunflower fueled price jump is yet another reminder that even blockchains like Polygon PoS, created specifically with the goal of making crypto transactions faster and cheaper than on crypto mainstay Ethereum, will have to increase their fees as usage spikes. For years now, users have bemoaned Ethereum's high gas fees, which have increased as the network's usage has grown. Back in 2017, the game CryptoKitties famously clogged up the Ethereum network.
The problems with scaling on Ethereum gave rise to a slew of alternative networks and technologies like Polygon PoS, Solana, Arbitrum and Optimism that are trying to offer lower transaction costs. But as their usage expands, they could have scaling problems, too. And prices will likely have to rise in the long run, along with usage. Polygon has already had to make adjustments to weed out spamming bots clogging up the networks and blamed by some for the Sunflower debacle.
“This type of thing is routine, although this is much larger scale than previous incidents,” said Aaron Brown, a crypto investor who writes for Bloomberg Opinion. “It is resolved by design changes, particularly in regards to pricing. Many crypto projects under-price their services in hopes of attracting users rapidly to build network advantages. The hope is that rising use will attract resources to build scale to accommodate the additional demand. But if demand soars overnight from an unexpected source, you get bottlenecks -- especially when the new demand is likely temporary.”
Sunflower had about 312,000 users in the last 24 hours, per tracker DappRadar.
“This is one of the growing pains of crypto,” Brown said. “As networks mature and people learn from mistakes they should become less common.”
Representatives of Polygon and Sunflower didn't immediately return requests for comment.