2023 Web3 Development Report
Web3 developer activity reaches all-time-highs as rollup frameworks and account abstraction take root
Last year’s headlines were captivating, but they didn’t tell the whole story. Against a backdrop of corporate scandal, impending regulation and spot Bitcoin ETF rumors, web3 developers were busy quietly deploying new projects more than ever before.
For the fifth year in a row, the number of Ethereum and wallet SDKs installs reached all-time highs, up 31% and 126% YoY respectively. Similarly, the number of EVM smart contracts created across Ethereum Mainnet, Arbitrum, Optimism and Polygon was 303% YoY in 2023.
This steady ramp of developer activity helped drive new rollup frameworks that allowed chains to settle more efficiently, improved UX using account abstraction, and promising new use cases spanning logistics, restaurants, and content authentication.
In this “year-in-review” edition of our Web3 Development Report (PDF), we take a look back at developer activity across major blockchains in 2023 to determine where ecosystem growth is occurring, and what that might portend for the year ahead.
As usual, we analyze the cornerstone metrics of web3 development (like library installs, smart contract deploys, testnet activity) to bring the increasingly complex web3 landscape into focus. In this latest edition, however, we take a closer look at two areas that we’re particularly excited about: account abstraction and rollup frameworks.
Account Abstraction was introduced in Q3 and introduced new features like sponsored gas and social login to simplify user experiences. By Q4, over 960,000 new ERC-4337 accounts were created, representing 53% of the total 1.8 million deployments to date. Today, companies including Visa, Wipro/Shell and Circle have already begun integrating account abstraction infrastructure.
In 2023, Ethereum’s rollup-centric roadmap came to fruition, as new frameworks from L2s like OP Stack, Arbitrum Orbit and Polygon’s CDK allowed new chains to launch as either L2s (settling to Ethereum) or L3s (settling to the layer 2). One of the buzziest examples of this was the launch of Base, built on OP Stack, which aimed to bring exciting new use cases like gaming and music onchain.
Of course, these are just a few highlights of the full 2023 Web3 Development Report, which can be downloaded for free or read in more detail below. As you’ll see in the report, there is still much building to do in 2024 and beyond, but there is plenty to be excited about.
What did developers build in 2023?
2023 introduced more real-world uses cases than ever. Polygon introduced the Value Prop, a database tracking more than 300+ web3-powered use cases. Base championed use cases with Onchain Summer, a celebration of art, gaming, and music use cases, all onchain.
Big brands and institutions began weaving web3 aspects into their platforms to create innovative and enhanced experiences for their customers. Here’s just a few examples:
Pudgy Penguins launched its toy and collectible line in collaboration with Walmart and zkSync, generating new licensing opportunities for Pudgy holders.
WiPro deployed Falcon, a new supply chain platform incubated by Shell and powered by Polygon PoS, which allows manufacturers, buyers, and operators to track heavy equipment through its full life cycle.
Franklin Templeton launched the Franklin OnChain U.S. Government Money Fund on Polygon, the first U.S.-registered mutual fund to use a public blockchain to process transactions and record share ownership.
What were developers focused on learning in 2023?
More than 69,000 students enrolled in Alchemy University
Students completed more than 674,000 lessons
JS for Ethereum is by far the most popular course with 359k lessons completed
And devs put their skills to practice at industry events and top hackathons, logging in record attendance.
Solana’s 2023 Hyperdrive hackathon received 900+ final projects, a 63% increase compared to Solana’s Riptide Hackathon in 2022
In 2023, ETH Denver’s attendance grew 50%, recording its largest attendance in history with a total of 48,000 attendees
More than 6,000 developers competed in ETH Denver’s #BUIDLathon.
What happened with testnets in 2023?
In Q1 of 2023, Goerli began its official deprecation which briefly spurred a secondary market for Goerli ETH due to fear of scarcity. Fast forward to Q2, devs began transitioning to Sepolia testnets, and the trend has continued into 2024.
Still using Goerli? Get free Sepolia testnet ETH from our faucets and migrate today!
Major Chain Milestones in 2023
Despite market tailwinds, there was a lot to celebrate in 2023. Here are some of the notable achievements from web3's most popular blockchain ecosystems.
Polygon's new web3 use cases for NFTs and DeFi
Polygon's technical leadership continues to drive interest from web3 builders and enterprises alike. Some of the most noteworthy accomplishments last year include the launching of their Polygon zkEVM , the transition to Polygon 2.0 (a zero-knowledge validium), and the launch of their Chain Development Kit (CDK) for launching Polygon rollups.
Arbitrum released new, powerful developer tooling
Arbitrum launched many innovations to attract serious application developers. A few notable achievements include:
Arbitrum Stylus, a programming environment adding C, C++ and Rust support for Arbitrum One and Arbitrum Nova
Launched Orbit, a toolkit for launching Arbitrum chains
Developed BOLD, a challenge protocol supporting permissionless validation
These innovations, along with a sought after token airdrop, attracted many new users and builders to the Arbitrum ecosystem.
Optimism launched new upgrades and Base support
Most notably in 2023, Optimism helped power Base, Coinbase’s L2 network in August, making it one of its first OP Stack chains. Optimism also successfully implemented the Bedrock network upgrade and later in the year announced the Optimism Superchain for their network of interoperable OP Stack chains.
Solana had a breakout year
Toward the end of the year, Solana quickly gained momentum in Q4 with DEX and NFT volume topping Ethereum for the first time.
The Solana community began planting seeds early on with its $BONK airdrop in December 2022 and launch of its Saga phone in April 2023, but it wasn’t until meme coin mania kicked in driving DEX volumes on Solana to reach a monthly high of over $28 billion in December 2023.
Starknet's technical innovations continue to attract builders
Starknet continues to push the boundaries with their Cairo programming language, native account abstraction, and sophisticated provers to attract skilled developers.
Astar brought big brands and devs together
Astar, Japan's leading blockchain, held its first global hackathon in 2023 with Toyota and its second global hackathon with Mazda and Mitsubishi Estate.
Astar Foundation partnered with Sony Network Communications to create a web3 incubation program that incubated 19 projects and adopted more than 200 applications.
Download the Full Report (Free)
Thanks for reading the highlights from our 2023 developer report! The full report and insights can be downloaded for free using the link below!
Arbitrum Account Abstraction Workshop Series
Arbitrum and Alchemy are partnering together to bring you an exciting new educational series on Account Abstraction!
What is WEI?
Wei is the smallest denomination of ether, the currency used for transactions on Ethereum.
Web3 Developer Report (Q3 2022)
Despite the crypto winter, web3 developers are more active than ever including 1.5 million Ethereum SDK downloads per week, a 178% increase since Q3 2021.