Sunflower Farmers pushes Polygon gas fees from 30 to 500 gwei
Sunflower Farmers, a new play-to-earn game on the Polygon network, is wreaking havoc on gas prices and dapps on the Polygon blockchain. A smart contract vulnerability allowed users to mint infinite iron pickaxes, causing a rush of players and potentially bots to abuse the programming mistake.
The rush of players and potentially bots resulted in gas fees on the Polygon blockchain rising from their base level of around 30 gwei to over 500 gwei per transaction. That’s an increase from around $0,00009 to approximately $0,001. Still cheap when compared to Ethereum gas fees. Of course, the incredible increase in gas fees is extra shocking, because Polygon is supposed to be a cheaper alternative to the already expensive Ethereum blockchain.
In response, as of Friday, 7th of January, the Sunflower Farmers team decided to put the game into maintenance mode as they make improvements and relaunch the SFF token. This means that the old SFF token will be abandoned.
A vulnerability was exploited in the crafting system, enabling a user to mint infinite iron pickaxes. The community raised this, and once it came to the team’s attention, the game was immediately shut down to prevent people from crafting any more items. At this point, a snapshot was taken to preserve farmers’ inventories, resources, and NFTs. This was taken at block #23451693 and will be used to redeem all NFTs and resources. Notably, players must still own these tokens and NFTs if they wish to redeem them.
While the game has been taken down, it is impossible to remove the smart contract from the blockchain or decentralized exchanges like QuickSwap. The team took the necessary steps to blacklist the token. Still, bots will inevitably continue to play the decentralized game by interacting directly through the blockchain, and people will continue to speculate on the SFF token. Given the permission-less nature of the blockchain, the team behind Sunflower Farmers cannot stop anyone from trading SFF.
Those who continue to trade are purely speculating and rewarding the bots who continue to interact with the smart contract. Anyone who obtains tokens from the grace period is doing so for pure speculation of the old SFF token and will not be guaranteed any of the new tokens.
A few reasons can explain why the farming-themed game led to gas fee issues on Polygon. The core reason is that smart contracts in the game are set to reward players with SFF tokens for every game action. So players are assured of earning tokens by constantly performing tasks such as planting and harvesting crops. Hence the vast transaction numbers observed in the past 7 days. Earned tokens can be used to purchase in-game NFTs and pay for other benefits to enhance further earning opportunities in the game.
Secondly, the game’s mechanics incentivize gamers to compete aggressively to farm as many token rewards as possible. The game’s tokenomics stipulate that early users will earn a much higher share of rewards as the token supply rapidly becomes deflationary to drive scarcity. As a result, players are looking to acquire a larger share of the game tokens and pay high gas fees to ensure their transactions are accepted.
Play-to-earn games with simple mechanics have long since been the victim of bot activity. In March 2021 similar activity was observed on Alien Worlds. A play-to-earn game on the Wax blockchain, when active wallets exploded to record levels. Leading the game to bring in new captcha settings to try and help eliminate bots.
When you consider the basic actions of Sunflower Farmers, i.e., plant a seed, wait for it to grow, harvest it, and get rewarded – it’s easy to see how a player can set a bot to perform simple actions many times a day. The incentivized farming game may have attracted bots trying to extract value. As reports last week show impressive yet slightly suspect user data. Purely due to the lightning speed at which Sunflower Farmers grew to become the number one game on DappRadar.
Looking more holistically at the situation has fueled concerns over how a single dapp can create a gas fee surge of this kind. Nonetheless, Polygon’s gas fees remain very cheap compared to Ethereum, where a single transaction costs anywhere between $50 and $100 right now. Importantly, Polygon did not experience downtime from the issue, which did happen to the Solana blockchain recently. In December 2021, Solana, a leading Layer-1 blockchain, paused for several hours and could not process new blocks due to an oversubscribed IDO launch.
At the time of writing, the Polygon team has not yet spoken about how it plans to address congestion created by play-to-earn games and dapps such as Sunflower Farmers. However, this example points to the network having robust mechanisms to deal with these scalability issues moving forward.
Mass adoption is coming. But at what cost?
The above does not constitute investment advice. The information given here is purely for informational purposes only. Please exercise due diligence and do your research. The writer holds ETH, BTC, AGIX, HEX, LINK, GRT, CRO, OMI, IMMUTABLE X, ENS, GALA, AVASTR, GMEE, CUBE, RADAR, FLOW, FTM, BNB, SPS, WRLD, ATOM, and ADA.