Claws Out: The Cat Fight Over CryptoKitties

And the Fate of the Ethereum Network

The world of cryptocurrency is truly amazing. And, if the Internet didn’t already have enough cats; it soon will . If you don’t know what CryptoKitties are, you either:

  1. Don’t know what cryptocurrency is (or care).

2. You live under a rock.

I first wrote about CryptoKitties on December 3, and since then we’ve seen some incredible changes to the status quo which have sparked a noteworthy and fascinating debate about the future of the Ethereum Network.

But first off, let’s paws here for some crazy updated kitten stats for your reading pleasure.

While these statistics are incredible, and breeding CryptoKitties is a ton of fun, the network has been overrun with fur-balls that have royally clogged the system with transactional hairballs, leaving users wondering if Ethereum can handle the strain. Network congestion aside, transactions have gotten expensive, forcing services to increase their default Gas Price (more on gas prices, here).

For instance, MyEtherWallet recently upped all gas prices to default at 50 GWEI per transaction, meaning one transaction could cost you approximately $5 (assuming you use 200,000+ gas). Many people are having their transactions remain pending for hours, eventually running out of gas — not just on CryptoKitties, but network wide. Those people are getting so frustrated they’re threatening to leave the network (a supply and demand economics lesson playing out here), and it’s difficult to blame them. If you’re not a cat person, conducting regular business through Ethereum is currently more difficult than it should be.

At the same time, despite these struggles, the network is learning what it can and cannot handle. Progress is being made through growing pains that are forcing the network to mature quickly. Further, CryptoKitties is luring people in who have never used crypto before, growing the community at an astonishing (and encouraging) rate. More users means more awareness and faster widespread adoption.

Yes, these scalability problems are severe, but I believe this is the best way they could possibly happen. What if these network problems had happened because of a healthcare token, or an energy token, instead of over the trade of virtual cats? The consequences could have been more serious than longer wait times and higher fees.

CryptoKitties isn’t just forcing the Ethereum Network to realize its need for rapid expansion and scalability, it’s bringing in new users and it’s causing innovation in the decentralized gaming world. Already, new companies are being created with amazing vision for improving upon CryptoKitties’ success, and discussions are happening about the best way to make virtual cat trading into a full RPG (you can earn some ETH by voicing your opinion over at Cent).

What do you think of CryptoKitties and the problems that have occurred recently? Good or bad? What can the network do to quickly grow? Leave me a comment below and continue the discussion. I’d love to hear from you.

If you’re still interested in getting into the CryptoKitties game, here’s the best way to get started:

  1. Buy a little Ether on Coinbase (using this link will get you a free $10 of Bitcoin while you’re at it)
  2. Download the MetaMask plugin for Google Chrome/Brave Browser
  3. Create an account at CryptoKitties.co
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