Axie Infinity, an Ethereum-powered digital pet game merging influences from the likes of Pokémon and Tamagotchi, has announced the public testnet launch of a new sidechain to help it scale as more players come onboard. And major game publisher Ubisoft is involved.

Ubisoft, the publisher of major traditional game franchises such as Assassin’s Creed and Just Dance, will serve as a launch validator for Ronin, the game’s Ethereum sidechain.

The sidechain—which lets the game offload actions to a second, connected blockchain—is designed to help Axie Infinity minimize the impact of Ethereum network congestion and speed up the game experience, and it has already been tested through a previous private testnet launch. The public testnet period is expected to last for a few months, according to a blog post.

The global game publisher is just one of the launch validators: cryptocurrency exchange Binance, non-fungible token (NFT) data provider NonFungible.com, crypto game publisher (and Axie investor) Animoca Brands, and blockchain infrastructure firm SPARQ are also onboard. Validators approve transactions to and from the Ronin sidechain, as well as update price oracles and other key administrative tasks that affect Axie Infinity and its ecosystem.

DappRadar lists Axie Infinity as the most popular blockchain-driven game in terms of users, and it holds a commanding lead. In the last 30 days, the site notes that Axie Infinity had approximately 18,590 users, which is more than nine times the tally listed for the second-place game, EvolutionLand.

In November, Axie Infinity developer Sky Mavis raised $860,000 via a sale of its AXS governance token. The sale came on the back of increasing user tallies for the game and high-priced sales of rare in-game Axie NFT creatures. One sold for 300 ETH last month, or approximately $130,000 at the time of sale. According to today’s post, the Ronin sidechain will eventually add proof-of-stake elements and further layer-2 solutions to aid with scaling.

Crypto Game Axie Infinity Raises $860K from Token Sale

Ubisoft is by far the most active traditional game publisher in the blockchain space to date. The publisher has worked with numerous blockchain developers as part of its Entrepreneur Lab program, which provides office space and guidance to startups. Sky Mavis joined the program earlier this year, and the developers of fellow crypto games Sorare and Splinterlands have also been involved.

The publisher is also an advisor for crypto role-playing game Nine Chronicles and a validator for EOS-powered digital game store, Ultra. Ubisoft launched its first blockchain game in June called Rabbids Token, a CryptoKitties-influenced game designed to benefit charity. Previously, the publisher developed a Minecraft-esque blockchain game prototype called HashCraft, but has not announced plans to release the game in any form.

Source: decrypt