By Spencer Kellogg | USA
We have been waiting for the first substantial mainstream use case for Ethereum’s world computer and it appears to have arrived in the form of digital kittens. According to their site, CryptoKitties are “breedable, collectible, adorable, one of a kind cats” that are built on the Ethereum blockchain. Reminiscent of other token-based collectibles secured by a blockchain ledger, CryptoKitties is an interactive game and art project that may remind some veteran altcoiners of Rare Pepe cards that can be bought and sold using Pepecash. The kittens, however, have proved a massive cultural and financial hit in the past week. The Ethereum blockchain slowed to a crawl this weekend as the crypto community, flush with cash and new monetary power, flex their troll/nerd wings in ways only they know how.
The emergence of a token collectible gaming DAPP (decentralized application) is pushing the Ethereum blockchain to its technological limit. Cats are being sold for an average of 100$ and already 3 million dollars of ether have poured thru the network making CryptoKitties the most successful DAPP in Ethereum’s short-lived history. Vitalik Buterin (Ethereum) & Charlie Lee (Litecoin) have both applauded the creativity of the project while also critiquing the currently limited scaling ability of these youthful networks. All of this traffic is leading to huge bottlenecks of data as the blockchain attempts to scale to meet its user demands. With almost 1/4th of Ethereum’s network clogged and struggling due to the insatiable appetite for CryptoKitties, we are watching an experiment in blockchain technology unfold before our eyes. Although the flaws of blockchain scaling have been made apparent through this historical smart contract, many in the community believe this type of social application will kickstart competition to find new scaling solutions.
Founder Bryce Bladon has expressed his interest in creating a project that pushes the blockchain past its current use cases of currency and fundraising. The brilliance of the CryptoKitties phenomenon shares a lineage with digital and card based pet games dating back to Tamagotchi and Pokemon. It also takes a bite from the nearly 110 Billion dollar gaming market which many tech advisors see as one natural home for the burgeoning blockmarket. As with all markets, scarcity and uniqueness add value to the collectibles with some cats recently soaring to prices ranging on the high end between 5000-100,000 thousand dollars per cat! Astonishingly, according to etherscan, which scrolls the Ethereum ledger, someone spent over 100k on a single digital cat this weekend!
What many are finding more exciting than the insane money and data that has bombarded the network in the past week is the new feasibility of using the blockchain as a social endeavor. Until now, most of the projects in the crypto community have been demanding philosophical ideas that have trouble communicating their need to the low tech public. But CryptoKitties is just pure fun that anyone with an internet connection can participate in and feel like they are part of the new internet. While blockchains are busy revolutionizing banking, healthcare, space travel and borderless currencies, the mainstream adoption of this technology will come through applications like CryptoKitties which excite and stimulate an internet population eager to join in the future of the blockchain space.
Want to participate in the CryptoKitties community? It’s easy! On their website (CryptoKitties) you will find a simple and detailed explanation of how to buy and move ether for beginners. Within half an hour, a new user should be up and running on the network. With its cute cats and easy to understand directions, CryptoKitties is creating a basic on-ramp for early adopters still sticking their feet into the waters. For everyone associated with the blockchain movement, this should be a reassuring and inspired moment that could spark major technological and social catalysts within the space. With more ingenious and irresistible applications entering the web through the crypto space, we will continue to see swelling marketcap and media hype.