If the days of buying and selling Beanie Babies or tending to a Tamagotchi have you waxing nostalgic, then the latest craze in cryptocurrency is here to suit your needs, CryptoKitties.
One of the first games built on blockchain technology, CrypoKitties was created by AxiomZen, a venture studio based in Vancouver, BC. According to the creators of CryptoKitties, they can be likened to “breedable Beanie Babies.” Essentially, they are are digital cats that can be bought, sold, and bred to create new cats with a variety of traits and features.
As is expected when you combine anything related to cats with technology, CryptoKitties were a huge hit after the public launch on November 28. After one week of launch, CryptoKitties trading resulted in sales of nearly $6.7 million, with some CryptoKitties selling for as much as $114,481.59.
How does CryptoKitties work?
The appeal of this all is that these virtual cats are cryptocollectibles, meaning you can buy, sell, or trade your CryptoKitty like a traditional collectible. However, unlike a traditional collectible, the blockchain technology used allows you to track ownership of CryptoKitties securely.
CryptoKitties uses the digital currency ether (ETH) for all its transactions. Ether is an open source digital currency that has been around for 3 years, and is Bitcoin’s closest competitor. The Ethereum platform differs from Bitcoin in that it uses smart contracts.
In fact, the trading for CryptoKitties was in such high demand that it clogged the Ethereum network. TechCrunch reported that CryptoKitties accounted for nearly 15 percent of the Ethereum network traffic.
“CryptoKitties has become so popular that it’s taking up a significant amount of available space for transactions on the Ethereum platform,” said Garrick Hileman, from the University of Cambridge in an interview with the BBC.
What does the future hold for these feline cryptocollectables?
“With CryptoKitties, we’re exploring digital scarcity, an exciting but underexplored concept that blockchain empowers,” states the team behind CryptoKitties. “It makes the blockchain approachable for the everyday consumer and brings us but a small step closer to widespread adoption of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies.”
However, with some CryptoKitties going for as much as $100,000 a pop, one may wonder how approachable these feline collectables will be to those new to the blockchain technology.
In an interview with Motherboard, Arthur Camara, an Axiom Zen software engineer on the CryptoKitty team in Vancouver said, “We’re definitely surprised that CryptoKitties exploded this way, and we didn’t expect to see people re-selling their kitties for thousands of dollars, but we’re working on making the product fun and accessible.”
6 Steps to Getting Started with CryptoKitties
1. To get started with CryptoKitties, you need:
- A computer or laptop running the desktop version of Chrome or Firefox
- MetaMask, a digital wallet used specifically with web apps
- Ether, a form of digital payment that powers CryptoKitties.
2. Each CryptoKitty has a distinct visual appearance (phenotype) that is determined by its immutable genes (genotype) stored in the smart contract. The smart contracts used for each CryptoKitty have over 4 billion variations of phenotypes and genotypes.
3. When two CryptoKitties breed, their offspring’s appearance and “cattributes” are determined by each parent’s 256-bit genome and an element of chance. Once created, each CryptoKitty is unique and cannot be replicated, taken away, or destroyed.
4. CryptoKitties do not have a permanently assigned gender. This means that each cat is able to act as either matron or sire, and the owner chooses with each breeding interaction. Two CryptoKitties can breed a new CryptoKitty offspring.
5. There’s no standard price for CryptoKitties. Owners set their own starting price when they sell their Kitty, and the price goes down until the auction ends or the Kitty is purchased by another user. The starting price of “Gen 0” CryptoKitties is determined by the average price of the last five CryptoKitties that were sold, plus 50%.
6. Until November 2018 the CryptoKitties team will release a new “Gen 0” CryptoKitty every fifteen minutes. Once all the “Gen 0” Kitties are gone, the only way to get a new CryptoKitty is to breed two together or purchase one from another user on the marketplace.