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Microsoft unveils public blockchain Azure rewards program


Microsoft has collaborated with blockchain games platform Enjin to create a series of reward collectible badges to recognize Azure cloud community contributors as Azure Heroes. The project is currently in pilot mode in some Western European markets. Each reward badge – actually a cartoon badger – is a non-fungible or unique digital token on the public Ethereum blockchain.

The Microsoft website shows several different badger icons that participants can earn, but the quantities are limited.

The Enjin announcement states that “Azure Heroes aims to recognize the real contributions and positive behaviors in the Microsoft developer community. Program emphasis will be on acts such as volunteering, mentoring, teaching others, and creating inclusive environments — the things that communities are all about.”

Any participant in older-style online forums will remember icons that could represent experts versus newbies. This is a modern, broader take on a similar idea.

The rewards initiatives isn’t Microsoft’s first foray when it comes to games or blockchain. Apart from the Azure Cloud hosting a variety of blockchain protocol nodes, EY and Microsoft collaborated to use blockchain in tracking game royalties for Xbox.

Additionally, Microsoft chairs the Token Taxonomy Initiative. It has an identity project called ION, which works on the Bitcoin network. And there’s an Ethereum project for Decentralized & Collaborative AI on Blockchain.


Meanwhile, most games have assets that can be earned. Enjin has created a game development platform to create in-game assets that exist on the blockchain. Its solution uses a sidechain on Ethereum to get around the current scalability issues experienced on the core public Ethereum network.

Enjin inked a deal with Samsung, so its gamer wallet appears on the Samsung 10 phone in certain jurisdictions.

The organization issued a coin in 2017 raising just under $19 million and currently has a market capitalization of over $70 million, up more than 50% since the Microsoft announcement.

A new kind of token

One of the things Enjin is best known for is developing a new Ethereum token standard ERC-1155. The most widely known Ethereum standard is the ERC-20 which is used by numerous projects as interchangeable tokens or currencies, such as for ICOs. The organization behind CryptoKitties was the driving force behind the non-fungible token standard ERC-721, which represents one-off items or collectibles. But Enjin saw a need for a third way because games often have many different types of items.

A blog post describes ERC-1155 as “one smart contract, many tokens”.

The blog states: “While ERC-20 and ERC-721 tokens required a new smart contract deployed for each new “class” of token, the core concept behind ERC-1155 is that a single smart contract can govern an infinite number of tokens.”

It continues: “Think of this like a vending machine that holds a wide variety of soda, juices, and even snacks. A customer interacts with the machine using a single secure interface (inserting a coin, pressing a button), and the machine dispenses the goodies they have selected. In the same way, an ERC-1155 contract made for a game could contain a wide variety of items, from weapons and armor to health potions, magic scrolls, and more.”