CryptoKitties are taking the blockchain world by storm. The Ethereum blockchain based game, developed by axiomzen features collectible digital kittens that possess a real-world value. The game, first viewed as a joke by many, has exploded onto the crypto scene. It is said that cats rule the internet, well it looks as if they’ve set their sites on Blockchain and have truly came in guns blazing. Hated by some and praised by others, what is this game and is it here to stay?

What are CryptoKitties?

If there ever was a definition of viral, this would be it, since the games launch at the start of December 2017, at the time of publicatio, in game transactions are accounting for over 15% of all transactions of the Ethereum Blockchain. What’s more is that, players have now spent over $5 million buying these Cryptokitties with certain rare CryptoKitties being traded for over $10,000.

The game’s smart contracts are built in such a way that massive amounts of transactions are needed which has caused a dramatic slowdown on the Ethereum blockchain, with transactions now taking up to 20 minutes to be processed – and minimum transaction fees increasing to around $0.25.

While the success of CryptoKitties is great for consumer Ethereum adoption, the stress it has placed on the blockchain has increased the pressure on the Ethereum Dev team to implement a scaling solution as fast as possible as it has caused doubt and a lack of faith in Ethereum’s scalability.

Increasing the miner gas limit can alleviate transaction bottlenecks in the short-term, however long-term solutions for the network will only come from solutions such as proof-of-stake or sharding.

Game Mechanics

In the game, users can purchase collectible kitties with Ethereum and then breed them to create more kittens. To get started a user must first download the chrome extension MetaMask which will act as your Ethereum wallet to process the different transactions. Next the user must purchase at least one kitty.

Every cat has unique characteristics that are inherited from its parents and are stored in a 256-hexadecimal number.  The genetics or attributes of the cats are exhibited as “Cattributes”, these cattributes define colour, expression, body type, and furriness of a CryptoKitty – and players breed kitties to develop rare Cattributes. The rarer you Cattribute the more your kitty will be worth.

Every action on the game requires the user to pay an amount of Ether. This includes selling your kitties, breeding your kitties internally with other kitties you own, and renting out your kitties to breed externally with other players in the game.

CryptoKitties are genderless and can act as either a mother or a father in a breeding pair. Players also have the option to breed Kitties with fellow players, selling the “siring services” of their CryptoKitties for Ethereum. Alternatively, they can breed internally with other kitties you own. Kitties cannot breed with their parents or children. Each kitten has a specific breeding/recovery time.

The first kitties on the network are known as Gen 0 kitties and generally have the fastest breeding/recovery times. As kitties breed their breeding/recovery time becomes slower. Later generation kitties start off with slower breeding/recovery times and generally less valuable.

The bottom line

CryptoKitties is truly the first of its kind. Never has a game been built on the blockchain and gained such traction over such a short period. Despite the negative feedback its been receiving for clogging up the Ethereum network, CryptoKitties has shown that the applications of this new technology are endless. In addition to this, it has provided a platform for beginners to learn how transactions are made and processed on the Ethereum network in a manner that is easy to understand and fun.