Anyone who has spent time on Twitter understands the plague of bots on the platform. Even Elon Musk is in the throes of a legal battle backing out of a US$44 billion deal to buy the social media giant, largely stemming from his disbelief in their claim that only 5% of users are bots. It’s a sentiment shared by the majority of his followers:
Aside from the sheer annoyance of it all, bots are generally scammy by nature and not designed to play nice. And it’s not just limited to the world of social media — it’s all over GameFi, too.
GameFi bot detective
A recent analysis by Levan Kverjveila, the co-founder of anti-bot company Jigger, sheds light on claims that many of the most popular games in Web3 have a chronic bot problem.
Through its proprietary algorithm and graph technology, Kverjveila reveals that his company is able to detect bots and multi accounts (several accounts connected to a single user). They are then linked to the user wallets and mapped out in coloured clusters, petri dish-fashion:
we detect bots and multi-accounts by linking wallets belonging to the same person— Levan (@LevanKvirkvelia) August 29, 2022
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! See the colored clusters? these are bots at @Era7_official pic.twitter.com/vzEmzgtAge
Remarkably, the shenanigans are not restricted to fringe blockchains and outlier games. Kverjveila highlights that the Binance Smart Chain (BSC) features most prominently, with one example being a leading BSC game called Tiny World where 70% of players were found to be bots:
Similarly, Moblox, a top two game on Binance, was also found to be infiltrated with bots, with as many as 55%:
Bots: beyond gaming
Interestingly, Kverjveila’s analysis extended to decentralised exchanges (DEX) and other types of DeFi crypto platforms.
To illustrate, Biswap DEX, a crypto exchange, was found to have 13,000 bots due to a referral service. Ariva digital, a crypto platform designed for the travel and tourism sector, is reportedly one of the worst hit by a bot infestation — as many as 87% of users are allegedly bots.
@AnRKeyX 84% of bots@ArivaCoin 87% of bots@Lovely_finance 28% of bots@RadioCacaNFT 23% of bots@SeedifyFund 49% of bots@SensparkMeta 34% of bots @coin98_wallet 69% of bots@cryptovoxels 65% of bots@binary_x 42% of bots@BombCryptoGame 42% of bots@Lovely_finance 28% of bots— Levan (@LevanKvirkvelia) August 29, 2022
The bot issue isn’t just restricted to gaming. In the NFT corner of Web3, many project founders have grappled with bot issues at launch. The Saudis recently hit #1 on OpenSea, but it was quickly discovered that one wallet was responsible for driving the prices, and on-chain analysis found it was a frequent offender, doing the same for Crypto Dads, Tubby Cats, ChiptoPunks and more. During the Tubby Cats launch, a wallet obtained 1240 Tubby Cats, selling them for US$1.4 million.
Will the Web3 industry fight back on the bots?
In response to the bot analysis of this week, we’re seeing more games take responsibility and show a commitment to addressing the issue. A play-to-own blockchain farming simulation game on Polygon, Sunflower, released news that they would be using Jigger to “fight the bots”. The P2E game came under threat earlier this year when bots exploited its smart contract, choking the game on the Polygon network.
This had a knock-on effect for dApps built on the Polygon network, which suffered congestion for a week as the game’s Sunflower farmers were using more than 70% of its capacity.
Of course, with any new technology, it will naturally attract an array of participants, some of whom will act in bad faith. This happened in Web2 and Bitcoin, and the bot problem in Web3 is simply the latest manifestation of this trend. Twitter is yet to address the bots and nascent technology such as Web3 is likely further behind the curve.
Musk’s call-out to resolve the bot crisis on Twitter is a step in the right direction, as the pesky robots continue to undermine the useability and value of both gaming and social media. There is currently no silver bullet to resolve the issue — and any solution will need to adapt as technology develops. But we are seeing new systems emerging that are fit for purpose and designed with Web3 in mind. It’s a journey, not a destination.
For example, Civic.me recently launched an identity and reputation management tool to tackle bots in the NFT space.
Blockchain gaming remains in its infancy, and with that, we can expect challenges such as bots along the way. To be sure, these are likely to be addressed in time — the form and manner of which is largely yet to be determined. However, in the interim, Web3 gamers and users would be advised to exercise caution, as well as a healthy degree of common sense.