What the heck is a CryptoKitty?

How CryptoKitties are different from Bitcoins and real cats — and why that matters

At first glance, it’s a cartoon cat. Yet someone paid $140,000 USD for one, and every day players breed thousands of these fluffy digital felines. They’re more than a cartoon cat, but until you own and love your own CryptoKitty, it may be unclear why.

CryptoKitties are an introduction to something new and exciting

CryptoKitties are one of the most accessible and delight-driven ways to experience blockchain technology. They’re consumer friendly, but industry-insider approved.

They’re also a relatively new use for blockchain technology.

  • Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin were the only example of blockchain technology for over seven years, until new projects like CryptoKitties arose.
  • CryptoKitties helped popularize and prove the value of a new class of digital assets.
  • These digital assets, also known as cryptocollectibles or NFTs (non-fungible tokens), are gaining traction.
  • Early cryptocollectible innovators like CryptoPunks and Rare Pepes helped pave the way.

This new kind of digital asset is exciting, but it can be tough to articulate exactly why. It’s like an experience, a piece of art, or your beloved pet — hard to understand why it matters if your audience doesn’t have the same personal, cultural, or yes, monetary connection as you.

A CryptoKitty is a lot of things, depending on where you’re coming from and the connections you foster with your digital cats.

CryptoKitties are a new kind of digital art

We’re in the early days of a transformative new era in art. All the traditional value a patron finds in art — its cultural relevance, its emotional resonance for a particular time or place, the simple personal connection someone feels towards a specific piece — are only enhanced by the transparent and immutable nature of the blockchain.

Blockchain solves art industry problems

  • Creates provable scarcity: limited editions and one-of-a-kind digital pieces are now possible.
  • Verifies true ownership: ensuring value for collectors and patrons.
  • Reduces fraud: with a permanent record that tracks provenance and authenticity, it combats forgers.
  • Creates an ethical way to pay artists: with transfers of ownership recorded immutably, an artist gets paid every time their work changes hands.

For the first time, digital art can be scarce

  • Torrenting made digital assets infinite, and once an asset — an image, song, movie, etc. — can be copied for free, its value plummets.
  • Big organizations fought back, but the powers that be couldn’t stop the storm.
  • Netflix and other on-demand services made paying easier than pirating.
  • With users on board for digital art again, we’re primed for what blockchain can bring to the table: limited run digital art.

Digital art can now be personalized

  • There are billions of potential CryptoKitty combinations, meaning there’s a perfect Kitty for everyone.
  • Players can selectively breed to create their dream Kitty.
  • Players can build collections of Kitties around any theme.
  • Want to dress up your Kitty? You can add accessories like hats and capes with Kitty Hats!

Digital art goes beyond the digital frame

CryptoKitties belong to you and only you

When you buy a CryptoKitty, no one can take it away from you or change it. Even if the CryptoKitties site shuts down, your cat will still exist as a hash code on the Ethereum network. A hundred years from now, you could gift your Kitty to your grandkids. Pretty cool, right?

So, what can you do with your CryptoKitties?

Breed your perfect furever friend

Breeding real cats is expensive, time-consuming, and at best, morally questionable (spay and neuter your pets!). With CryptoKitties, you can collect Kitties and breed them as many times as you want. During our Thursday Purrsday events, our players even go on hunts to breed special Fancy Cats with more unique art.

Collect them like baseball cards

Many players have an emotional connection to a cat — because they particularly love its art, because it’s rare, or because it reminds them of something. Perhaps you collect a whole set of Kitties tied together by a theme. Perhaps you’re attracted to a Kitty made famous by its moment in time — the first Kitty with a new trait, or a Kitty made in honour of a cause you support. There are charity Kitties that protect turtles, smart Kitties named after brilliant scientists, football Kitties celebrating the world’s biggest sporting event. And they’re all at your fingertips.

Sell them or Sire them

Not only can you breed new cats, you can also buy them from the Marketplace! (And we’re still sad we didn’t call it the Marcatplace.) Love your cat but want to share its unique genes, which we call Cattributes? You can put it up for Sire to help someone else get the traits they’re looking for — and you can probably make a little ether doing it!

Why do people buy, collect, and play CryptoKitties?

We’ve seen a lot of headlines about how a single CryptoKitty sold for $140,000 USD. That can seem like a staggering figure, and a lot of people wonder — why would people pay so much for a cartoon cat?

The Kitty in question, Celestial Cyber Dimension.

The future of cryptocollectibles

The Kitty in question was bought as part of a charity art event. People are willing to pay for art they consider meaningful, and Celestial Cyber Dimension certainly fits the bill! It may be an important historical record in the future; it may even be a sound financial investment that will pay dividends. And of course, the funds went to charity.

But not everyone is paying $140,000 for their Kitties. And for them?

The game is fun

It’s more than just cartoon cats built on blockchain technology. Trying to figure out the percentage chances of breeding a certain cat has spawned spreadsheets, apps, and communities. Chasing a specific breeding recipe to unlock a Fancy Cat is adrenaline-fueled entertainment. If you’re the true collector type, you’ll want to complete sets of Fancy Cats, or perhaps create your own collection of coveted Kitties. And if you own a pet, making a cartoon version is undeniably adorable.

Third-party is no longer second best

It used to be that third-party apps were looked down on. Like fan fiction writers, people thought building on someone else’s idea was a little déclassé. With blockchain, all of that goes out the window.

Third-party apps aren’t just encouraged — they’re vital to the experience. Extensibility of design and thought is baked right into CryptoKitties. If you own a cat, you can bring them across experiences, doing anything from solving detective mysteries that feature your Kitties to engaging in epic Kitty battles.

Shape the future

CryptoKitties showcases the future potential of digital assets. If you own a CryptoKitty, you’re a stakeholder helping to shape the future of digital cats and blockchain technology alike, fostering comradery, creating new experiences, and coordinating to discover the latest Fancy Cat. You can use your Kitties to support turtle conservation, help fund a charity bridging art and the blockchain, or even auction them off and donate the money to charity.

Okay, so what the heck is a CryptoKitty?

It’s a digital, breedable, unique artistic asset stored on the blockchain. It’s a cute cartoon cat that you can bring into other experiences and games. And it’s a proof-of-concept for a technology that will change the world.