Herding one-million cats

The state of CryptoKitties and where we’re going from here

Last week, the one-millionth CryptoKitty was born.

  • The one-millionth CryptoKitty was born 288 days after CryptoKitties launched
  • Around 971,500 of the one-million CryptoKitties were created by players
  • Outside of exchanges, CryptoKitties is the most-used smart contract in the history of blockchain

To give that milestone more context, let’s talk about where we started, where we are, and where we plan to go from here.

CryptoKitties began with a bang

Within a month of launching, CryptoKitties established itself as a cultural sensation.

  • CryptoKitties accounted for 20–25% of Ethereum’s traffic
  • Revenue of $5M
  • Press coverage in VICE, BBC, and The New York Times

Our goal with CryptoKitties — and our ambition with Dapper Labs, the company behind the game — is to drive mainstream adoption of blockchain technology. We believe this technology has immense benefits for consumers, but for those benefits to be realized, it needs to be experienced to be understood.

With that goal in mind, here’s where we are now.

Outside of exchanges, CryptoKitties is the most-used smart contract in the history of blockchain

To date, over 3.2-million transactions have occurred on CryptoKitties’ smart contracts, and that number is only increasing. Excluding exchanges, that makes CryptoKitties the most used smart contract in the history of blockchain.

The day before the one-millionth CryptoKitty was born, 8,478 new CryptoKitties were born. That’s the most new Kitties we’ve seen since December 18th, 2017.

Meanwhile, the number of transactions has been steadily increasing over the past few months.

Trends in the CryptoKitties marketplace since July 1st, 2018 (in terms of auctions won)

CryptoKitties are furrever friends that hodl value

Of the wallets that have transacted with CryptoKitties smart contracts since launch, over 85% currently have at least one CryptoKitty in their possession.

The majority of big CryptoKitties sales (i.e. US$10,000-$100,000+) occurred in December 2017. These sales were mostly tied to limited-edition Kitties, with the top three sales at that time being a pair of founder cats and CryptoKitty #1, Genesis.

via Kitty Sales, a project created by Niel de la Rouviere

While these big sales have reduced in quantity due to the realities of digital scarcity, the records they set have been broken multiple times now.

In May 2018, we held our first off-market sale in collaboration with Codex Protocol. In a public auction lead by the President of Christie’s auction house, Kitty #127, better known as Celestial Cyber Dimension, sold for US$140,000 to Igor Barinov. The proceeds of the sale went to the Foundation for Art + Blockchain.

CryptoKitty #127, Celestial Cyber Dimension, was hosted in a physical statuette created by Richard Moore.

And just before the one-millionth CryptoKitty was born, a cat named Dragon sold for 600 ETH (~US $170,000) on the official marketplace.

  • To date, over 50,000 ETH (about US $26M) has been transacted via CryptoKitties.
  • The six-figure felines steal the show, but over 100 CryptoKitties have sold for over US$10,000.
  • The average price of a CryptoKitty is US $60, but you can get a cute and breedable “entry-level” CryptoKitty for a few dollars.

CryptoKitties play nice with both bears and bulls

When CryptoKitties launched, it was right around peak interest and valuation in blockchain and the wider industry. There’s no doubt that CryptoKitties benefitted from this timing.

However, the fact that CryptoKitties continues to succeed regardless of the state of the industry may surprise some. Our recent metrics are competing with our all-time highs, and the industry is currently in a 12-month low.

When ether’s value began to decline, there was a correlated increase in engagement, especially sales. At the risk of assuming correlation equals causation, ether’s low valuation meant players were buying and breeding while it was especially affordable.

CryptoKitties are literal works of art

A CrytoKitties exhibit recently opened in the ZKM, one of the world’s top museums.

Titled “Bringing Blockchain to Life,” the piece is a real-time visualization of CryptoKitties being bred on the blockchain, with the newborn Kitties living in digital art frames. You can see an online version of the exhibit here.

Meanwhile, CryptoKitty #127, Celestial Cyber Dimension, is currently on display as part of the “Proof of Work” exhibit at the Schinkell Pavillion.

CryptoKitties are a community of crazy cat people

The CryptoKitties community is something truly special. We knew we had something special the first time we saw a CryptoKitties tattoo, but all the community creations are worth checking out.

via Kittywagon

Some of our community members have been around since alpha, and three of CryptoKitties’ most impactful hires were sourced from the community:

  • Alan, co-creator of Kitty Calc and product-community liaison
  • Jordan, co-creator of Kitty Calc and marketing-community liaison
  • Ralf, volunteer moderator turned professional community manager

We wanted to build a bridge to blockchain for consumers with CryptoKitties. To see community creators carry this mission into both the digital and physical realms is incredible.

CryptoKitties started with a small but powerful innovation

CryptoKitties authored and pioneered technical innovation in blockchain technology: the ERC-721 token that represents ownership of each cat. The token is now the standard in non-fungible tokens.

Projects like CryptoPunks preceded and inspired aspects of CryptoKitties design. However, non-fungible assets — like art or collectibles — had no practical analogue in blockchain. Cryptocurrencies dominated the industry until CryptoKitties success inspired droves of copycats, unique cryptocollectibles, and blockchain-based games.

CryptoKitties live beyond digital art frames and physical representations

A CryptoKitty represents a new kind of digital asset secured by blockchain. Within the wider community, these are currently referred to as “NFTs” (i.e. non-fungible tokens), or “Nifties,” a reference to their non-fungibility. It goes further than that definition, though.

These programmable assets come with built-in securities, and we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what they’re capable of.

And we may not even be the ones to unlock this potential.

CryptoKitties aims to inspire innovators and buidlers

Within a month of launching CryptoKitties, a dozen projects were built on top of CryptoKitties.

Earlier this year, we launched the KittyVerse to provide a proof of concept for blockchain’s potential for independent creators — especially in regards to these programmable smart assets (i.e. a CryptoKitty).

With the KittyVerse and the launch of our developer and founder support programs, there are dozens of new experiences built around CryptoKitties.

  • 48 KittyVerse experiences are currently in development
  • 143 Github repos, 3.5k+ commits
  • ~20k+ API calls /day

Note that the API figure is tied to our “unofficial” API. We recently launched an official API in beta for creators who signed up for KittyVerse.

And developer adoption? It’s increasing.

One-million CryptoKitties later…

Yesterday’s and today’s successes have framed a lot of this post.

But that doesn’t mean we haven’t made some mistakes or experienced failure. Those failures — or, at a minimum, the willingness to try something and fail — are a big part of the successes.

CryptoKitties are many things to many people, and that means we define success in ways ranging from engagement and monetary proof to community building and developer adoption.

As we continue to build CryptoKitties, our focus is on empowering the next wave of creators, buidlers, and anyone else who wants to help make the future meow.