By Jon Creasy
Cryptocurrency is wildly popular, and it’s changing the way we look at the world. This week, it’s changing the world through virtual cats, Cryptokitties. Yes, digital cats. And yes — as of 9:55 am EST December 5, 2017, over $4.9 million on these virtual cats, up from $3.2 million yesterday, which itself was more than twice the figure that was reported just Sunday’s TechCrunch article by Fitz Tepper.
Cryptokitties.co’s recent launch proving to the world that anyone can understand the Ethereum blockchain and ERC20 utility tokens. The concept is simple. You begin by purchasing a virtual cat in exchange for Ether. This is a one-of-a-kind cat, and only you own it. There is no other cat exactly like it in the world. Crypto-geeks call this simple concept “non-fungibility.”
Once you have two cats that aren’t related (we don’t encourage incest in the crypto-community), you can breed them together to birth a new cat. All of these cats can be “sired out” to the community for breeding, or they can be sold on the marketplace. Pretty easy, right?
What’s incredible about this seemingly simple venture is that it’s teaching your average, everyday person how to use basic cryptocurrency. The CryptoKitties program runs off of MetaMask, and the transactions are completed by using Ether to buy, sell, and trade the cats, which are essentially utility tokens. And just think, most people think learning how to use crypto is difficult.
CryptoKitties is much more than a fun little game, however. In a matter of hours, it has become wildly popular, accounting for nearly 13% of all gas use on the Ethereum Network. People even started streaming CryptoKitties on Twitch, giving away cats for free and sharing tips on how to best breed your felines.
From @BryGuyTwitch's stream:
"At the moment @CryptoKitties is the busiest smart contract on the $ETH network, accounting for 13 % of all gas use – @ethereumproject is now primarily a platform to trade digital cats."
— Jon Creasy (@PurpleSuede22) December 4, 2017
While most of the cats for sale on the CryptoKitties marketplace are decently inexpensive (you can get your very own kitty for around $10 at the time of writing), one cat sold recently for a whopping $115,000.
— Blockchain Syndicate (@BlockchainSyn) December 3, 2017
It should come as no surprise that CryptoKitties is such a while success. Niantic showed the world not too long ago that people are obsessed with virtual collectibles through their smash-hit app PokemonGo. CryptoKitties takes their idea one step further by assigning each cat with a specific value. This idea is incredibly popular, to the point where the original twelve cats have already sold for at least 66 ETH each. That’s over $30,000 for each cat, at the time of writing.
You could just chalk CryptoKitties up to being a bunch of nerds with more money than they know what to do with breeding virtual cats as a means of passing time. But there is much more to this fur-filled virtual market than meets the eye. There is the potential to radically change the way we think about smart-contract-gaming.
This is the dawn of a new kind of collaborative modular game design. I'd love to see more people experimenting with these ideas.
— Manuel Araoz (@maraoz) December 3, 2017
Manuel Araoz brings up a good point here — CryptoKitties has provided us with a marketplace for virtual kittens that is already pretty successful. But imagine if someone decided to extend what this company has already done into a Pokemon-like battle arena? Instead of just buying, selling, and breeding your cats, what if you could battle other players in real time, winner taking all?
Or what if someone created a Minecraft-like platform where you could buy and sell raw materials, and then combine them, much like the breeding on CryptoKitties, into weapons, armor, vehicles, etc.? Then, instead of buying and selling virtual cats, we could buy and sell our virtual empires! These types of worlds really aren’t that far removed from a platform like CryptoKitties.
Blockchannel’s Steven McKie broke these ideas down in an incredible tweet stream I’d highly recommend reading through:
CryptoKitties NEXT GENERATION:
ATK; DEF; SPD; and POWER attributes.
Feed collectible digital power ups [must fall within the ERC-CAT framework] Merchants can create and sell goods that power your cat in battle, if they build from the ERC-CAT framework.
— Steven D. McKie (@Steven_McKie) December 2, 2017
We’re just scratching the surface (pun intended) of what smart-contracts can do in our world. Breeding, buying, and selling virtual cats is just one of the millions of fun ways we’ve figured out how to use the Ethereum blockchain to create a bit more wealth in the world. Who knows what’s going to be next?
If you’d like to get in the CryptoKitty craze, an easy way to start would be by:
- Buying a little Ether on Coinbase (using this link will get you a free $10 of Bitcoin while you’re at it)
- Download the MetaMask plugin for Google Chrome
- Create an account at CryptoKitties.co