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January 19, 2024

The Ultimate Solution for NFT Metadata Storage

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The Ultimate Solution for NFT Metadata Storage
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Enjin hybrid solution answers on-chain and off-chain storage debate

Picture a Web3-powered fantasy game with thousands of players, item upgrades, and NFT item drops. You stumble upon an enchanted axe boasting maxed-out offensive stats and invincibility traits.

A recent Cointelegraph Interview with Enjin Blockchain ecosystem members explained how on-chain metadata solidifies these valuable aspects of your NFT.

However, many NFT holders would be surprised to learn that most NFT metadata is stored off-chain.

The now defunct crypto exchange FTX stored its NFT metadata on a centralized server. When FTX company went down, holders found themselves staring at blank images and broken links.

While a complete on-chain solution would guard against similar instances, most blockchains have not been designed to store large amounts of data.

Navigating this challenge requires a nuanced approach.

Storing data on-chain comes with significant costs, reaching hundreds of thousands, and results in network congestion as observed with the widely-used Bitcoin Ordinals protocol. Problems arise when blockchains are used beyond their intended design.

This direct on-chain approach has revived the old Bitcoin block size debate, with concerns about network congestion

- Witek Radomski Co-Founder and CTO, Atlas Development (Enjin) | Interview with Cointelegraph

Note: Atlas Development Services is a core contributor to the Enjin Blockchain

Enjin Blockchain responds to this challenge with a hybrid solution, combining on-chain metadata and decentralized storage.

Designing a Hybrid Storage Solution

Since its launch, Enjin Blockchain has supported on-chain metadata storage.

Some networks (e.g. Bitcoin), have deemed on-chain storage through inscriptions as network exploits,.

Enjin Blockchain’s hybrid approach intentionally caters to NFTs and Web3 game applications. With this available flexibility, creators can choose the best NFT storage option depending on their use case.

On-chain is perfect for vital traits – think unique game item characteristics that are more than just an ID.

- Witek Radomski | Interview with Cointelegraph

Taking the Enchanted Axe as an example:

  • Vital traits and unique characteristics should be stored on-chain:
  • ~Has the axe been enchanted?
  • ~Does it carry rarity compared to other in-game weapons?
  • ~Is it invincible (does not incur wear and tear)?
  • Furthermore, large NFT data is recommended to be kept off-chain:
  • ~High resolution images
  • ~Sound clips
  • ~Videos

For off-chain solutions, creators can use a centralized service such as Amazon Web Service or opt for decentralized storage solutions such as InterPlanetary File System (IPFS). Decentralized solutions store metadata off the main blockchain while remaining decentralized, tamper-proof, and permanent.

Debating on-chain versus off-chain storage should not be separated from debating decentralized and centralized storage. Envision interoperability where an NFT-focused chain can pair with a storage-focused chain. This will be the foundation for high resolution, low latency, fully decentralized games featuring thousands of NFT transfers per minute.

- Oscar Franklin Tan, Chief Financial Officer, Atlas Development (Enjin) | Interview with Cointelegraph

Supporting Innovative Web3 Games

Game developers and creators may also choose to initially keep metadata off-chain and then transition to Enjin Blockchain once the NFT reaches its final state.

An innovative approach is to combine both storage types: start NFTs off-chain and move them on-chain as they evolve through user interactions.

- Witek Radomski
| Interview with Cointelegraph

Picture a Level 1 Weapon:

  • Assume the weapon is an in-game NFT
  • ~Every player chooses their weapon at the game’s outset
  • As players level up, they craft their weapons to increase its stats:
  • ~Attack points
  • ~Luck (for critical hits)
  • ~Elements
  • As players defeat monsters, the weapon gains experience points
  • ~Once the weapon reaches Level 10, it can no longer be crafted

For NFTs that undergo frequent evolution, metadata may not be as critical in their initial state.

Metadata can be stored off-chain. As players craft and wield their weapons, the game developer can update the metadata for free (or at minimum cost), simply by updating the metadata on the game server.

Once the weapons reach Level 10, the game creator can transition the metadata to Enjin Blockchain and freeze it. The metadata is then locked as the player would not be able to craft it again.

In their final state, metadata should remain unchanged indefinitely.

Conclusion

As Web3 games expand NFT functionalities, developers should consider which digital assets and which metadata deserve to be on-chain.

I'm eager to see NFTs expand their role, transitioning from simple JPEGs to dynamic metaverse markers - assets that evolve over time in the Web3 universe.

- Witek Radomski
| Interview with Cointelegraph

Enjin Blockchain empowers developers to consider various storage models with its hybrid solution, blending security and network scalability.

That’s the beauty of building on a purpose-built blockchain.

The Ultimate Solution for NFT Metadata Storage
Create an NFT today on NFT.io and witness a hybrid on-chain NFT metadata experience.
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