A new technology often gets a game that helps to promote it to the mainstream. Social networks had FarmVille. Mobile phones had Angry Birds. And now blockchains have CryptoKitties.
CryptoKitties is a blockchain-based virtual game that allows players to adopt, raise, breed and trade digital cats using Ethereum-based smart contracts. The game is an extension of society’s obsession with rising cryptocurrency values. Since its launch on November 28 last year on the platform created by Canadian startup Axiom Zen, almost half a million people have signed up and have spent more than $20 million in ether to purchase the kitties. And hear this… more than 10 kitties with rare attributes have sold for over $100,000!
The popularity of the game reflects the skyrocketing values of digital currencies like Bitcoin and Ether. The game represents one of the earliest attempts to deploy blockchain technology for recreational and leisurely purposes. The game’s popularity in December last year took up such a significant amount of available space for transactions on the Ethereum platform that it congested the network and caused a sixfold increase in pending transactions. In response to the viral success of CryptoKitties, Ethereum miners had to increase the gas limit to allow for more data per block and increasing transactions per second. CryptoKitties has become the most popular smart contract system on the Ethereum network.
Each CryptoKitty is unique and ownership is tracked via a smart contract on the Ethereum blockchain and its value can appreciate or depreciate based on the market. Each carries a 256 bit distinct genome with unique DNA and different attributes that can be passed to offspring. CryptoKitties cannot be replicated, taken away, or destroyed. Users can interact with their CryptoKitties, having the ability to buy, sell, and breed them.
CryptoKitties are distributed automatically, via smart contract, at the rate of one every 15 minutes (672 per week) for one year. Each CryptoKitty is represented in the form of a non-fungible ERC-721 token, which allows for each entity to have specific attributes or cattributes.
Based on the limited number of cats going into circulation and their limited genomes, there is a limit of 4 billion total cats that can be bred. Each cat will have a distinct visual appearance (“phenotype”) determined by its immutable genes (“genotype”) stored in the smart contract. Because these kitties are tokens on a blockchain, they can be bought, sold, or transferred digitally. A CryptoKitty does not have a permanently assigned gender. While they can only engage in one breeding session at one time, each cat is able to act as either matron or sire. The owner chooses with each breeding interaction. Cryptokitties are bred by spending Ether tokens on smart contracts that use two base cats to create a new one. Each resulting cat is unique and persistent, recorded on Ethereum’s public ledger.
With a limited number of highly desirable first-generation kitties and four billion possible combinations of cats based on traits the Axiom Zen staff artists have created (whisker aesthetic, background color, fur type), these kitties command prices based on their cattributes. Axiom Zen gets a 3.75 percent cut of the breeding and selling auctions.
Like Bitcoin and Ethereum, CryptoKitties allows speculators to make a lot of money if they get in at the right time. Dare to invest in one?
Cryptokitties. Collectible. Breedable. Adorable. Valuable.