Zero-Knowledge Proofs (ZKPs) will transform the gaming industry. They can be implemented in two key ways: multiplayer gaming architecture, or the way online games are hosted, and gameplay, i.e player’s in-game experiences.
Implementing ZKPs results in the following outcomes:
There are four primary hosting approaches in which ZKPs can impact online multiplayer games:
Today, game developers pay millions of dollars to maintain centralized servers and oversee the security of important data. Zero-Knowledge Proofs can help reduce expenses for client-server architectures by limiting the quantity of sensitive data maintained on the servers. With ZKP, data can be encrypted and validated without requiring the server to hold the information. This reduces the amount of computation the server manages, while maintaining security and lowering expenses.
In contrast to client-server gaming architecture, ZKPs allow for more robust Peer to Peer (P2P) gaming architectures. P2P systems eliminate the need for an expensive centralized server. Instead, players authenticate in-game events to each other. A drawback to P2P systems is that cheating and data manipulation are common issues, as games are less secure without a third-party validator.
Zero-Knowledge Proofs can improve P2P security and prevent data breaches, making these systems more efficient and cost-effective. A ZKP secures the veracity of important information and the legitimacy of game outcomes. This can be especially useful in e-sports, where large winnings are on the line and cheaters are not always caught.
Another issue faced by today’s game-makers is scaling to large numbers of concurrent players. Today’s server based multiplayer games can handle only a few dozen coexisting players. In situations where trust is a concern, Zero-Knowledge Proofs can increase game scalability by decreasing server overhead in client-server architectures.
P2P multiplayer games today support even fewer concurrent players, due to reduced computing power in the absence of a game server. The entry of ZKPs in P2P systems allows for proofs of verified game actions shared between players, rather than raw game data, decreasing the amount of data flow. A ZKP also attests that players’ moves were done according to the game’s rules.
The addition of Zero-Knowledge Proofs to gaming architectures will enable game developers to improve gaming experiences, attract more players, and increase revenue, while decreasing operational costs and the risks of cheating.
FPS (First Person Shooters): The main deterrent for new players joining online battlefields is difficulty. Games today use non-private data such as players’ win/loss average to create matching systems. These can be manipulated and reveal information about users that may put them at a disadvantage. ZKPs offer a solution to these issues by allowing for verification of a player’s skill level, without revealing the actual information. This provides a more secure and private method for determining skill, and helps prevent manipulation of the matching systems.
MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games): In traditional online games, players own virtual assets and participate in in-game economies managed by a third party, i.e the game developer. These virtual assets may be bought, sold, and traded, but their ownership is subject to the rules and policies of the game developer.
ZKPs enable a more secure in-game economy by allowing players to fully own and exchange their virtual assets. In the future, it may be possible to seamlessly transfer virtual assets across different games, creating a unified economy for players to trade items and currency amongst each other with security and confidence. ZKPs also secure users’ in-game identities by keeping crucial information private such as inventory, in-game communication, and player behaviors.
Gambling and Casino: Zero-Knowledge Proofs can be used to prove the randomness of games of chance. Because inputs and results are kept secret, no player or third party can manipulate or forecast game results. ZKPs can also be used to protect the privacy of a player’s hand. Casino and gambling games that use Zero-Knowledge Proofs provide a safe and fair gaming environment with verifiably random results that are shielded from manipulation or tampering.
Puzzle and Strategy: While some players choose to showcase their achievements and rankings publicly, others may wish to keep their scores and strategies concealed. A Zero-Knowledge Proof can be utilized to secure players’ progress and high scores while keeping sensitive information private. Puzzle games that include ZKPs enable players to share their progress without disclosing solutions.
The flexibility of Zero-Knowledge Proofs in gaming to a wide range of use-cases highlights their potential as “game changers”. ZKPs will play a crucial role in game development due to their ability to enhance privacy, reduce costs, implement better anti-cheating measures, and increase scalability.
The gaming industry’s adoption of this nascent technology provides the opportunity to improve experience, attract players, and increase revenue, contributing to the industry’s growth and success.
As the use of ZKP in gaming grows, so too will the demand for computing power. Specialized hardware such as ZPUs dedicated to Zero-Knowledge processing will become a necessity, as game developers design experiences that take advantage of Zero-Knowledge Proof’s capabilities.
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