Most of us know that the only real purpose for social media is to post pictures of cats. Well the furry critters have now taken over the crypto-sphere as well and are wreaking havoc with the Ethereum network. A new craze is sweeping the internet going by the name of CryptoKitties. It is kind of a cross between Tamagotchi and Pokémon where by users can buy, sell, ‘breed’ and ‘raise’ virtual cats.
It is the first game of its kind based on the blockchain and it runs on the Ethereum network. Released by Vancouver and San Francisco based design studio AxiomZen, the game lets people breed digital moggies that are all unique due to the way the blockchain works. Different traits generate different prices that players can get for their feline avatars on the marketplace.
It sounds like something for kids but CryptoKitties, which was only released on November 28, is now responsible for over 11% of all of the traffic on the Ethereum blockchain. In order to breed or grow these virtual pets players need to user Ether tokens, they then actually own them due to the decentralization of the blockchain.
Over $4.6 million in Ethereum has already been spent on the game and more than 30,000 cartoon cats have already been sold according to the company website. The original Crypto Kitty went up for sale for around $117,000 so people really are going bats for cats. The average price hovers around $115 according to the website’s sales tracker.
Founders AxiomZen stated “We wanted to make blockchain technology accessible to the everyday user, as we believe this is a key step in otherwise seeing the technology adopted. We wanted to explore blockchain applications outside of ICOs and cryptocurrencies.”
One downside of the game’s popularity is the slowing of transactions on the Ethereum network and the company had to increase the ‘birthing fee’ to accommodate: “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!”
Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin also praised the concept on Twitter where he wrote: “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.”
Some observers claim that applications such as these could further inflate the cost of transaction charges and the price of Ethereum which has risen from a stable $300 to over $460 in the past couple of weeks.