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The NEAR collective is excited to announce the launch of the first gaming DApp on the NEAR mainnet: the new ZEST Play Platform from the digital entertainment startup Virtually Human Studio (VHS), the creator of the popular racehorse community ZED.

As the real world merges with the digital, full, and direct ownership of your digital assets becomes increasingly important. Blockchain technology makes that possible, and the industry has seen a proliferation of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) as a result. These unique and non-interchangeable tokens come in the form of digital land, trading cards, kittens, art, and, in the case of ZED, racehorses.

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Buy a digital racehorse in ZED’s marketplace

ZED allows you to buy and sell beautifully designed, poly-art horses. But there’s a lot more to it. You can race your horses and earn a profit while doing so, too. Races on ZED are open 24/7 and thousands of people have already bought and raced their horse on ZED. But, as VHS was building out features for ZED, they bumped into a problem that would come to frustrate a growing number of users. 

ZED runs on Ethereum. Participating in a horse race only costs a few dollars of Ether, but Ethereum’s gas fees would sometimes spike up to hundreds of dollars. On top of that, transactions sometimes wouldn’t go through, costing people a gas fee without returning the desired result. Given the rising popularity of DeFi and Ethereum’s clogged network, this became an increasingly pressing problem for VHS.

VHS found a solution in NEAR. Along with its dynamically sharded blockchain design, NEAR has a predictable gas price that is significantly lower than Ethereum’s. Additionally, similar to how AWS and other cloud service providers work, NEAR allows developers to cover gas costs for its users, making the onboarding experience for new blockchain users significantly easier.

This falls in line with the philosophy behind the ZEST Play Platform. ZEST is an #extremelysexytoken that users can earn for free to play ZED without having to invest money. You don’t have to own or learn about NFTs to get in on the fun. It’s a smooth, easy onboarding experience. 

It seems to be working too, as people have already reserved well over a million ZEST. Visit the ZEST Play Platform to earn free ZEST tokens. Over time, you’ll be able to redeem prizes with your tokens, including ZED NFTs that hold actual dollar value. 

Peter DePaulo, Head of Developer Experience at NEAR says of the project, “The team at VHS moves faster than even the most thoroughbred racehorse, and we are excited for what else we can create with them. We are aligned with the idea that the development of good products should be user-first and market-driven. In essence, build what people actually want and use underpinning technology like NEAR to eliminate technical complexity. We are passionate about supporting creators like VHS with the tools to move at lighting speed and deliver experiences that exceed people’s expectations. That is what we do here at NEAR, and it’s what we plan to continue doing.”

About NEAR

NEAR Protocol makes building and deploying decentralized apps (and exchanging NFTs) easier, faster, and cheaper than any other blockchain.

Native usability is NEAR’s primary concern. Features such as its contract-based account model and NEAR Drops make NEAR significantly more usable for developers and end users. Additionally, NEAR has focused on bringing performance for applications. The dynamic sharding approach, called Nightshade, works on top of proof-of-stake BFT consensus (called Doomslug) and allows network throughput to scale as demand grows. It targets 1-second blocks so developers can build performant applications.

 Find out more about NEAR Protocol on our website, follow us on Twitter, or join our community on Discord.

About VHS

Virtually Human is a studio exploring the boundaries of entertainment. They experiment with emerging technologies in gaming, sports, and digital collectibles, and are the creators of ZED and now the ZEST Play Platform. Follow ZED on Twitter or join their community on Discord or Telegram.

Written By

Alexandra Breines

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