2017 has been a crazy year with weird things going on around the world, and it literally would’ve been very boring for the year to end normally. So, right when this bizarre journey is about to end, we have the latest entry for the ‘crazy category’ and it’s called CryptoKitties.
CryptoKitties is a game built on Ethereum blockchain involving virtual Kitties, Ethereum and millions of dollars. The game has brought the tech world to its feet, with its popularity spreading like fire in a jungle. People are spending heaps of ‘real’ money on the virtual game and as claimed by some reports, so far $1.3 million has been spent on the CryptoKitties.
The game has been created by Vancouver-based design studio Axiom Zen and was launched to 200 users on the U.S. holiday Thanksgiving. A few weeks back, the game was opened to the public.
CryptoKitties basically involves buying and selling of digital kitties but in cryptocurrency. Multiple kittens are sold around 50 ETH (about $23,000) while the “genesis” kitten being sold for ~246 ETH (around $113,000). The least expensive kitten in the game costs about 0.03 ETH ($12).
The game mirrors the beanie baby trend where stuffed animals were being bought for huge amounts of money by buyers. Just like CryptoKitties, beanie baby gained a lot of popularity but due to insane traffic had its market crash eventually.
Some say that CryptoKitties is an innovative way for beginners to interact with the Ethereum blockchain. While being based on the decentralized Ethereum blockchain, there is no central entity to manage the game meaning that the bought kitties will forever belong to the holder even if the game shuts down.
I actually like the digital cat games. They illustrate very well that the value of a blockchain extends far beyond applications that would literally get shut down by banks or governments if they did not use one. https://t.co/AtcdjkrlB3
— Vitalik Buterin (@VitalikButerin) 4 December 2017
The Ethereum blockchain is clogged right now with CryptoKitties players, making it hard to play the game. It is now the most popular smart contract on the Ethereum network with 15 percent of all the traffic dedicated to it.
“CryptoKitties is getting so popular that it’s taking up a significant amount of available space for transactions on the Ethereum platform,” said Garrick Hileman, from the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance.
???? Due to network congestion, we are increasing the birthing fee from 0.001 ETH to 0.002 ETH. This will ensure your kittens are born on time! The extra is needed to incentivize miners to add birthing txs to the chain. Long-term solution will be explored very soon! ????
— CryptoKitties (@CryptoKitties) 3 December 2017
How to play
The game was initially seeded with 100 “Founder kitties”. Until November 2018, every fifteen minutes, a “Gen 0” cat will be released, which is listed for an average price of the last five kitties sold, plus 50 percent.
Kittens are sold via auctions, where the starting price is set by the user and the price declines with time until somebody buys the kitten.
New kittens can be created by breeding two cryptokitties, which the game calls “Siring” process. Anybody can put their kitten up for ‘Siring’ for a specified amount of ether and if someone wants to sire their kitten, they will have to pay for it while keeping the offspring themselves. Newly born kitties can then be sold on the marketplace.
After a digital kitten breeds, it will take a specific period of time (from an hour to a week) to recover, called the “cooldown” time and during this time, the kitten will be unable to breed. Each time a kitten breeds, its cooldown time will eventually increase. The generation will also increase with each breeding, for example, an offspring of a ‘Gen 0’ kitten would be a ‘Gen 1’.
According to the company, each kitten has a 256-bit genome meaning that there are about 4 billion possible variations. Holders can only assign names to their kittens and they often use the opportunity to highlight the rare attributes their kittens hold.
So if the game includes buying and selling of kittens solely by the users then what does the company behind it gets? On every transaction (auctioning or siring), Axiom charges a 3.75 percent fee. The developer also kept the Ethereum collected from selling the initial 100 kitties, plus the newly generated kittens sold every 25 minutes.
Mack Flavelle, the project lead for the game said that the team has a lot of product improvements to work on while the most immediate one is to improve the UI on the web platform.