Behind the Cryptokitties Mania
Cryptokitties is one of the first games on blockchain ever. It involves collecting and breeding of unique digital cats. This game is built on Ethereum smart contract and has become extremely popular since its launch. Cryptokitties has not only surged Ethereum’s market value but also popularised the usage of the blockchain.
On cryptokitties, “one-of-a-kind” digital cats are available that completely belong to the owner. They cannot be replicated, destroyed or taken away. These kittens are bought and sold like real goods, as well as bred to produce a new one.
On the Ethereum blockchain, cryptokitties use MetaMask (an Ether wallet) as the digital wallet. Trading and purchasing is done via Ethereum cryptocurrency (ETH) which can be purchased using real money on the Coinbase app. Kittens cost from 0.004 ether (around $3 USD) to as much as 100,000 ether (around $79.3 million USD!). Initially, the company launched 250 original cats “without parents”. After every 15 minutes, a new cat is launched on the network and a maximum of 50,000 cats will be launched.
Unlike other games, there are no stages or ultimate goal here. Players simply have to buy, sell and breed cats. Although, the cats come with different visual features that are called traits. This comes from a unique set of genes that are coded as “Cattributes”. The information about these genes is available to users. By cross-breeding two cats, a new cat with new code and particular gene-set can be obtained.
While some of these traits are common, other ones are rarer. The players try to breed cats with as many rare traits as possible. They either breed their own cats or rent from someone else to obtain particular rare characteristics. This is not only to make it “look cool” but the rarer a cat is, the more expensive it becomes. In fact, recently one of a very rare cat was sold for more than $100,000 USD.
For a newcomer, the game might seem plain at first. However, after getting a hang of the game and understanding the “rare traits”, it gets more exciting. The player has to identify rare features, search for cats that have those features and negotiate prices with the renter for breeding. The new kitten produced is owned by the player, and can even be sold off in an auction.
These kittens also have generation numbers too, which tells how many generations the kitten has moved. The new kittens that are produced every 15 minutes are generation 0. Breeding of two generation 0 produces a generation 1 kitty. Breeding of generation 1 and 3 kitty produces generation cat, and so forth. The less a kitten moves in the generation, the better it performs and has more value.
There is also a cool down period to restrict the rate of making cats, to prevent inflation. However, because of the current hype lately, there has been clogging on Ethereum network. It has slowed down by 11%. In fact, this clogging has delayed one token sale. The Cryptokitty company was forced to raise its “birthing fees” to ease out some of this load.
Some critics think that if this problem becomes serious, this game can be shut down. While others have been pointing out Ethereum’s inability to handle the bulk of the game, suggesting it should be moved on to another network.
The popularity of these virtual cats on blockchain is compared with “Candy crush craze”. Back in mid-2014, Candy crush helped the King Entertainment IPO to top gaming charts. The hype about cryptokitties indicates that blockchain still has a long way to go ahead.
According to the company, the main aim of this project is to educate people about how to use blockchain, as well as aware them about other cryptocurrencies available in the market. While Bitcoin is quite famous around for being a digital currency, the knowledge about other digital currencies such as Ethereum is lacking.
Cryptokitties is using lively kittens to improve the user-friendly interface of the blockchain. The aim is to increase the popularity of blockchain goods and services. This game is a decentralized organization which is not owned by anyone. It democratizes the usage of the blockchain, which makes it easier for the users to understand how blockchain networks work. “We really took the approach of making blockchain more approachable.”
Another goal of the company was to test whether the blockchain community would be eager in the trading of “crypto collectibles”. Till now, up to $16 million USD worth of transactions has been done. Crypto kitties make up to 4% of Ethereum’s total transactions worldwide. This indicates a lot of enthusiasm about crypto goods (besides the services).
For some players, collecting these kittens is like collecting antiques, or being a part of “the toy culture that has been going on for decades.” But for many, it has become a seriously profitable business. While there are some worries about the future, but by and large, the success of crypto kitties is hinting at the massive potential in blockchain-based games in the future.