Web3 gaming industry is infiltrated by bots, study reveals

The report by Jigger, a software firm specializing in anti-bot protection, finds that on average only 60% of the player base of blockchain games are human users.

On Monday, Jigger co-founder Levan Kvirkvelia asserted in his Twitter thread that 40% of GameFi users are bots, citing the latest research by his firm. Such staggering percentage indicates that many popular blockchain games are seriously compromised, and the entire industry may be at risk of being hijacked by a bunch of malicious actors running bot farms to extract maximum value from play-to-earn platforms.

The study by Jigger examined 70 blockchain projects with incentive mechanisms and found evidence of 200,000 bots present on studied platforms. Binance Chain, however, seems to be suffering the most from bot infestation, as some projects built on it recorded over 70% of activity coming from bots. For instance, Tiny World, a top 3 P2E game on BNB Chain with 35,000 monthly active players, is found to have only 30% legitimate users. Mobox, an NFT and yield farming game, is revealed to have 55% bots.

However, it’s not just GameFi that sees its activity artificially propelled. As Kvirkvelia stated, “all services with a profit are flooded with bots.” The report noted that bots constitute 87% and 84% of users on Ariva Digital, a blockchain solution for the tourism industry, and AnRKey X, a social gaming platform for gamers and content creators.

Biswap, the first DEX on the BNB Chain, also recorded a significant spike in bot activity after it rolled out a referral program. “The funny thing,” Kvirkvelia recalls, “is that we found this token by analyzing it randomly and only then realized why the bots were there.”

According to Jigger, $200 million are being stolen each year from web3 games by multi-accounting and automation fraud. To purge the gaming industry of bots, the company uses a combination of on-chain data and service analytics. After a suspicious activity is detected, a player is asked to submit an “unobtrusive” Proof of Humanity – a selfie to make sure that a user is a real person.

While gathering information for the report, Jigger identified bots and multiple accounts by linking wallets belonging to the same person. “We take a list of token holders, put them on a graph, and link wallets using our algorithm. The result is more like a petri dish!” Kvirkvelia tweeted, pointing out the odd beauty of graphs with multiple colored clusters that represent bots in the game.

Such an approach helped Jigger to successfully remove hordes of bots from web3 platforms. In a recent case, the company secured $60,000 worth of tokens per month by removing bots from Mines of Dalarnia, a P2E action adventure game on Ethereum and BSC. With the help of data analysis, Jigger identified eight large botnets extracting tokens from MoD.

A screenshot of bot clusters visualized by Jigger.
Image: Jigger

“When blocked, the botnets were spawning new wallets, which we could detect in real-time and prevent from returning to the game. All automation scripts were stopped by integrating a specialized game mechanic before the minting process happens in-game. Cumulatively, Jigger identified and prevented 284 bots from abusing the game,” the company’s website reads.

Meanwhile, profits remain the number one reason for joining P2E projects, the State of GameFi 2022 survey report by Chainplay reveals. According to the report, three in four investors globally join the crypto industry because of GameFi, with 51% stating that making a quick buck was their prime motivation. Given these numbers, it can be anticipated that the demand for the solutions offered by Jigger will only grow in the future.