Cryptocurrency has been hacked before — it’s part of the risk with an entirely digital currency — but the latest heist is simply massive. The Ronin Network, whose blockchain is often used for video games, lost a whopping $625 million due to an exploit through Axie Infinity, the world’s biggest NFT game.
Earlier this year, Axie Infinity set a new record by becoming the first NFT game to clear $4 billion in sales. That seems to have made it a target for crypto hackers. As CoinDesk reports, the exploit targeted the validation nodes of Axie Infinity developer Sky Mavis. Normally, the Ronin Network uses nine of these validators in conjunction with five verified signatures to authorize any transaction. Using a backdoor hack that faked the necessary signatures, the culprit ran away with $625 million: a combination of 173,600 Ethereum and $25.5 million in USD Coin. Unsurprisingly, this has also brought the value of the Ronin Network down, with its own currency’s value dropping by a heavy 27%.
NFTs and blockchain games are hot-button issues in the mainstream gaming world. Steam kicked any games using the technology off of Steam last October. Meanwhile, sales are sluggish for Ubisoft’s proprietary Quartz service, leading to internal opposition at the company. Other studios like Platinum Games are deliberately not thinking about NFTs — they would rather stick to “making good games.”