A new Ethereum token standard is on its way. The new standard called ERC-1155 is designed to address a number of potential issues that will be faced by future online games that interact with the blockchain in order to facilitate item trades. The new tokens standard is being pushed by the creators of Enjin.com, which is a “social website platform for gamers”.
The New Standard
When you think of Ethereum tokens today, you are most likely thinking of ERC-20 tokens. This is the standard of choice for most Ethereum assets today, such as Augur and Gnosis, just to name two. This token standard is an encapsulation of a smart contract that denotes a form of digital ownership. Tokens of these kinds can be split into smaller pieces and reassembled. The term to describe this is that they are fungible.
Recently, a second kind of Ethereum token has gained popularity and that is ERC-721. The primary difference between this new format and the standard ERC-20 is that they are not fungible. This is important because there could be a number of circumstances where one may want to have a tokenized asset or proof of ownership that cannot be split apart.
Think of it this way. If you want to buy a car, you would not want to buy it piece by piece. For instance, you would not want to buy half a car at dealership A, a third of that car from dealership , and eighth of that same car dealership C, and so on. Instead it makes much more sense to simply restrict the trading of vehicles the whole units (extreme gearheads excluded).
But what about the relatively new ERC-115?
Read also: Beginners Guide to ERC-20 Tokens
Built for Gamers
When it comes to using blockchain assets in a videogame, typically this means a hybrid setup of sorts. Blockchains are not particularly fast and so they are better suited for different types of communication. So if you want to run a MMO, you would likely still need to have it operate largely using traditional means such as centralized servers for gamers to connect to. The attraction of using a blockchain is for example by using them to facilitate item trades.
Let’s say for instance that you’re playing an online fantasy game and have a character that is an archer. In the game, you find a highly valuable sword. You don’t personally want the sword, but the sword is indeed quite valuable. If that sword is a blockchain asset whose ownership is proven through a token, then perhaps that in game item can then be traded to someone else in exchange for other in-game assets or even another cryptocurrency like bitcoin.
Too Many Items
While this sounds interesting, a problem becomes immediately apparent to those who understand token standards. Specifically, ERC-20 tokens are all effectively identical. This means that if they were used to represent an in-game asset, then you would need an entirely new ERC-20 token for each different game item. That means if you have a game with thousands of items, you would need to have thousands of different ERC-20 tokens, each needing their own address, transaction fees, and so on.
This is where the new ERC-1155 token standard comes in. This new standard will allow for the quick transaction of groups of digital items, both fungible and non-fungible all together at the same time.
For instance, if you had a fancy sword, a pile of gold, and some magic potions that you all want to sell, you could do all of those individual trades to seperate individual buyers using only a single ERC-1155 transaction. Further, the game itself would not need to have an enormous array of different tokens in order to support the different types of items available in the game world.
More Than Just Games?
While the designers of the token standard seem to be laser-focused on using the new token standard for online games, it does beg the question of whether or not the standard could have other applications.
Perhaps it could be used in any circumstance where a highly complex and multifaceted trade needs to occur regularly with a multitude of highly different digital assets. Maybe even the traditional investment world could find use in this type of asset. For instance, ERC-1155 could be used to bundle together different types of tokenized investment holdings like stocks, bonds, real estate, derivatives, precious metals, and so on.
For now, however, having them deployed in a highly popular, high transaction environment like an online game would be the perfect testbed to see just what this type of token could do.