The advantages and challenges of being first

For nearly a decade, “The Next Bitcoin” was a common headline. It makes sense; the digital currency kicked off the blockchain revolution and provided the industry with its first and most notable success.

And any success is going to have people following in its pawprints

Regardless of what you think of our cartoon cats, they’ve garnered millions of dollars, thousands of players, and dozens of headlines. The moment CryptoKitties began to see success, a litter of copycats followed.

Prior to CryptoKitties, there were only a few well-worn paths to success on the blockchain. Then fun, games, and cat puns charted a new course.

Being first has its advantages

Since launching half a year ago, CryptoKitties has been top of mind for cryptocollectibles and dApps. Money and attention are great, but it’s been even more exciting to see so many projects built by our community to enhance the game, and, equally importantly, allow developers to learn and exercise skills in crypto development.

We already have 34 tools and games that have been built by the community and are included as part of our KittyVerse. These experiences build on top of CryptoKitties to provide games, resources, and tools that players can use in and around their Kitties. A lot of these developers learned about the blockchain just so they could build for CryptoKitties!

If we’re part of facilitating education on the blockchain, we’re doing our job right.

Being first comes with challenges

New ground also comes with new challenges, and it can be difficult to anticipate obstacles when you’re chartering unmapped territory. We have a great opportunity to experiment, but that also means we don’t always choose the best path. These deviations have proven to be valuable learning experiences, enabling us to make stronger and smarter decisions moving forward.

Take, for instance, the night the COO ran out of money. The COO account manages the cats that are owned by the team and sells our Exclusive Kitties. It’s also the account that puts the Kitty Clock cats up for auction — and to do that, it needs to pay a transaction fee for the creation of every cat. One night while the CryptoKitties team was asleep, the Clock went broke and couldn’t pay the birthing fees. That would have meant a backlog of Generation 0 cats and a lack of new ones being birthed. We were saved by a generous community member, Papa, who gifted us Ether to keep the COO running until the team woke up the next morning.

Community members like Papa are proof positive of how blockchain empowers everyone to be a stakeholder in the ecosystem they’re a part of. The level of generosity and trust that comes from people who feel they’re a part of something important is humbling. We learned a lot about the processes we needed to make sure we had oversight no matter what time of day or night it was; but we also learned that there is literally nothing more valuable than a community that cares enough about the game to keep it running when we can’t.

Being first comes with responsibility

Having a community as engaged as ours has both immediate and long-term implications. We have an immense responsibility to show the world why blockchain matters beyond cryptocurrencies and ICOs. The trustless system is shaping the future, and it’s our mission to ensure everyone understands why that’s valuable. To deliver that message we’re innovating in many new ways, and, especially when it comes to blockchain engineering, it’s paramount we share our methods and learnings. That’s why our API is open.

We built CryptoKitties to bring the first billion users to the blockchain. We believe the possibilities of blockchain are limitless, and for it to realize its potential, that value must first be understood. Practical innovation, experimentation, and sharing through education are the most impactful ways to achieve such a goal, and these are ingrained in everything we do here on the CryptoKitties team. We’re shaping the future, and we know that with that comes advantages, challenges, and a deep responsibility to show the rest of the world why what we’re doing matters.