WAX.io (Worldwide Asset Exchange) is building a standalone, single-purpose blockchain for digital assets. The main purpose is to support decentralized platform for creating marketplaces for digital assets, such as game skins and game items from popular e-Sport and gaming titles.
WAX token had an ICO which ended in Nov. 2017. Team raised over 45M USD in pre-sale and 9,6M USD on public sale. Current warchest of the project can be worth 30M – 70M USD.
ICO token price = 0.32 USD
Current price (Sep 2018) = 0.06 USD
Number of tokens = 1.85 billion
Available supply = 40M (Coingecko), 900M (CMC)*
*Big difference between the reports might indicate some inconsistency in number of WAX tokens in circulation
WAX.io scores 61 points out of 120 total points. In order for us to be interested in the project as an investor, it would need to score at least 80 points.
Predecessor of WAX.io is OPskins, one of the biggest gaming items marketplace. OPskins was forced to stop the trading of CS:GO skins after a legal order from Valve, also closing down their Steam account. This caused OPskins to lose significant part of market share, while CS:GO skin trading moved mostly to unregulated, but centralized Steam Community Market.
OPskins platform is now pivoting more and more to provide marketplace for crypto and blockchain based (tokenized) game items. See the list of newly supported crypto games and projects on their blog.
WAX.io can be seen as a further pushback against Steam’s authority. Project is developed by team behind OPskins. It aims to enable a censorship resistant and frictionless global trading of in-game items and skins between peers.
Platform aims to allow anyone to create an independent marketplace and connect with peers to buy and sell game skins and items, bypassing centralized chokepoints via blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Apart from traders, there are 5 main groups which will operate in WAX ecosystem:
1. Store Owner – everyone, who runs his own digital item marketplace
2. Guild – group of users, who oversee trading of digital items for a particular game
3. Transfer agent – Independent referee, who oversees the fairness and validity of transactions
4. Appraiser – Expert, who helps marketplaces to value and price digital items
5. Asset Creator – Can create custom digital items and sell them
WAX token will capture value, because it is native token of the platform. Some actors and operators of the marketplaces will need to stake WAX tokens, thus decreasing token velocity.
Total Addressable Market
WAX founders estimate the size of game item trading market to around 50 billion USD .
Another research points out to a more realistic numbers between 1 – 5 billion USD.
Note that WAX is specifically targeting secondary (peer-to-peer) trading of game items, thus we should heavily discount regular in-game purchases. However, 50b might still be realistic, if we take Skin-gambling (using skins and items with monetary value to gamble in online casinos) into account.
Also it is rational to expect gaming item market to grow together with growth of gaming and eSport market in general.
Team decided not to build their platform on any blockchain/smart contract platform, but to create their own chain, using EOS-like dPoS Consensus model.
According to WAX there are significant benefits of having a single purpose blockchain (instead of building on top of universal blockchain platform).
Single-purpose blockchain can balance the tradeoffs of blockchain trilemma and technical parameters of the blockchain to optimize for the one specific use case and user group.
In case of WAX, it needs to be decentralized enough to be resistant against attempts from big gaming companies such as Valve, to curb secondary game item markets. At the same time, it needs to provide fast and frictionless user experience, regarding payments and trading in order to compete with centralised marketplaces.
WAX Alpha version is already being used by VGO.gg, platform, that tokenizes game items. VGO.gg was one of the most used dApp on Ethereum blockchain, but had to move to WAX after significant scaling issues of Ethereum.
William Quigley, CEO of WAX.io is also a CEO of OPskins, which gives him credibility and solid track record in the gaming items industry. On the other hand, he needs to split focus between OPskins and WAX.
Lead Blockchain engineer – Aaron Caswell – is a post-ICO hire. He has solid track record in both Blockchain and gaming industry.
Apart from 8 people, who claim their are part of WAX on LinkedIn (from which 2 are just investors), there is not much available information on the size and experience of the whole WAX team. Aside from CEO, there are three “Management” members of the team stated on the website. Two of them do not have a LinkedIn, and can be found only on Everipedia.
Their newest hire – Andrew Paget – is a product manager that seems to be focusing solely on WAX. It would be interesting to see how many team members are working solely on WAX blockchain and how many are shared with OPskins. Building decentralized platforms and applications can be very different from centralized ones. Sadly, this information is not available.
Steam Community Market (Valve) – Main centralized competitor to both WAX and OPskins. It has advantages such as direct control of rights to CS:GO and other games. Steam users will find it very convenient to trade game items directly via Steam.
GameFlip – Another centralized game item marketplace. They are introducing FLIP token via an ICO with an aim to build decentralized ecosystem with smart contracts and own arbitrary token currency on top of Ethereum. However they will probably face Ethereum scaling issues. Also FLIP token has no utility beyond in-app payments, which makes it non-essential to success of the platform and will probably fail to capture value.
EnjinCoin – ERC-20 which aims to be an in-game currency for new games build on top of Blockchain in a way that makes items from them interoperable between the games. Enjin contains set of developer tools to integrate smart contracts and token standards with games. It is not a direct competitor to WAX, but it can evolve to be one, if they create their own item marketplace.
Loom Network – It is a set of game making tools on Ethereum, similar to Enjin. However, for better scaling it doesn’t work on main Ethereum chain. Rather, it facilitates dPoS Sidechain together with 2nd layer solution for scaling transactions called Plasma. Loom Token functions as a staking “worktoken”, incentivizing the nodes to secure the network. It is not a direct competitor to WAX, but it can evolve to be one. Working on Ethereum (same as Enjin) gives game items based on it more network effect and tradeability with Ethereum exchange protocols such as 0x. Interestingly, Loom did not do an ICO.
Crypto investors are in an environment with lot of noise. Full of marketing claims, unrealistic expectations and new, untested technologies hiding behind buzzwords. Our research approach aims to balance this situation with focusing mostly on red flags, negative information and sceptic view of the project.
Please note that some or all of these red flags are subjective. If we were to continue with our Due Diligence, we would reach out to the team to provide us with more fact-based data.
Pre-ICO valuation – With 1.85 billion of WAX tokens and base price of one WAX token being set to 0.32 USD, market cap of all tokens would be almost 600 million USD. Despite leveraging OPSkins platform, such amount is in our opinion way above the fair valuation, considering that WAX.io did not have an MVP, just a whitepaper at the time of an ICO.
ICO dynamics – Majority of WAX tokens were sold in private pre-sale for significant discount (official source claims bonuses up to 65%). Only 7.4% of WAX tokens were sold to public and majority of tokens were left in the control of the WAX team.
Post-ICO dumping – WAX tokens were being flipped immediately after exchange listing, indicating no vesting period. Large pre-sale investors and maybe even some team members probably sold lot of their holdings.
Centralized Consensus – WAX.io platform should aim to be sufficiently decentralized in order to defend against potential censorship from game publishers and regulators. It is not clear, if dPoS will be decentralized enough, even after WAX team will cease to control the direction of the platform.
No Github – There is no verifiable code on github or any other repository. WAX team decided to build the code privately, which is non-standard when building open and decentralized protocol.
Lack of team info – As mentioned in team section, more info about the size, composition and experience of the team dedicated to WAX.io is needed.
Majority of tokens in company reserve – This not only increases further need to trust WAX team as a centralized issuer and authority over the blockchain, but also increases the risk of tokens becoming a security and thus needing to oblige by worldwide security laws.
Legal Liability – WAX.io is directly connected to OPskins and if OPskins will be target of further legal actions from Valve or regulators, it may curb the progress of development.
Peer to peer game items trading and gambling represents good case for blockchain: It has need to be decentralized, because there are authorities that have incentive to censor it. It deals with digital assets, not real ones, so there is no need for oracles. It’s complex ecosystem with many different roles should serve gaming market well. WAX aims to be specialized blockchain platform and optimize for game items.
However, when compared to general purpose blockchain platform, WAX lives and dies with only one industry – gaming items. It needs to compete with centralized marketplaces as well as general purpose blockchains, which, if scalable, can become more robust and flexible enough to host such marketplaces themselves.
Project will capitalize on OPskins users, early crypto-games and VGO.gg tokenized assets to gain traction. Platform will capture large portion of growing digital items market and WAX token will be used by many different games userbases to stake and enforce the rules of the network.
Team will manage to deliver functional mainnet in time (Q4 2018) and the platform will become decentralized enough to resist the pushback from authorities.
Team will also be able to execute on business level, build superior reputation and strike crucial partnerships early on.
Project will not manage to create enough traction to justify standalone Blockchain and WAX token price will diminish. OPskins will keep losing market share to centralized competition and regulators will curb out skin-gambling.
Digital items will eventually be traded on bigger and more robust blockchains such as Ethereum and EOS and single purpose blockchain thesis of WAX will prove invalid.
We will be watching WAX and waiting for the end of 2018 for the public release of their blockchain. Also we will monitor other crypto-gaming competitors and whole gaming industry for potential investment opportunities.
This research is performed by Sigil LTD for information purposes and is not to be taken as an investment or a financial advice. Sigil LTD does not hold any position in researched project.