Decentraland as a Playground for Crypto-Collectibles

From crypto-pets to Rare Pepes, the possibilities are endless.

A rendering of a 3D prototype of a CryptoPet

As we prepare for the conclusion of our Land Auction, many in the community have turned their focus towards development. For example, each Decentraland District is targeting a specific interest or activity. Large blockchain projects (such as major exchanges) have also participated, with plans to develop new experiences within Decentraland.

Today, we’d like to cover a development possibility that will have major ramifications: crypto-collectibles. But before you start using Decentraland to breed virtual Ethereum cats, let’s take a look at the impact crypto-collectibles could have.

A Beginners Guide to Crypto-Collectibles

Before we get carried away, let’s review what a crypto-collectible is:

A crypto-collectible is a cryptographically unique, non-fungible digital asset. Unlike cryptocurrencies, which require all tokens to be identical, each crypto-collectible token is unique or limited in quantity.
Typically, crypto-collectibles are visualized as real-life objects such as pets or avatars. Each token has variations in specific attributes and there are limits to the number of tokens that can be generated. Often, additional logic in the form of Ethereum smart contracts enables interaction between tokens such as breeding new unique tokens.

Implementation

Newer crypto-collectibles use the Ethereum ERC-721 Non-fungible Token Standard which enforces uniqueness, while older crypto-collectibles use the ERC-20 Token Standard with a custom Ethereum smart contract to enforce uniqueness. Some tokens use custom Bitcoin implementations, hybrid off-chain algorithms, or hybrid centralized databases.

Breakout Star

The most (in)famous crypto-collectible is, without a doubt, the CryptoKitty. Within a few weeks, CryptoKitties hit over $12 million in sales, accounting for 14% of Ethereum’s transaction volumes.

Why Crypto-Collectibles?

You may be asking yourself: What’s so special about digital crypto-kitties? Fair question. The answer is that crypto-kitties are just the beginning. The characteristics that make them “unique” can be applied to anything.

Crypto-collectibles have four primary characteristics:

  • Intrinsic — They’re cute (visual representation).
  • Extrinsic — They can demonstrate status (rare attributes, high price).
  • Utility —It’s possible to use them for various activities (card games, cat breeding).
  • Trading — They are an asset that can fluctuate in price.

Crypto-Collectibles & Decentraland

The psychological and market drivers behind crypto-collectibles fit nicely with the concept of Decentraland’s persistent multi-user metaverse running on the blockchain.

  • Intrinsic — With Decentraland you can visualize and interact with your crypto-collectible in multiple dimensions, not just a 2D image. The ability to add a custom environment to match and the possibility for unlimited interactions is compelling for any crypto-collectible, and with Decentraland, the token administrators no longer need to create a custom app for this purpose. This saves money for collectible creators and owners, while adding more value to their users.
  • Extrinsic — A multi-user VR environment is perfectly suited to display your crypto-collectible to other users in a complementary environment. You can flaunt your rare and pricey items, and, thanks to the blockchain, “genuine” collectibles can be indicated in the UI to call out the fakers — the ultimate nirvana in copy protection. Jump all the way down the rabbit hole by using your crypto-collectible as an avatar for your VR persona.
  • Utility — Use collectibles for in-world games and activities. (For example, a Cryptopet's breeding effectiveness or rarity of its attributes could be improved by having more neighbors with similar or complementary collectibles.)
  • Trading — Assets may be exhibited to potential buyers and sold right in your virtual land.
A quick proof of concept of a 2D 8-bit CyberPunk extruded into 3D

The (Mostly) Complete Guide to Crypto-Collectibles

Which crypto-collectibles might be incorporated into Decentraland? Here’s a complete list of what you can (virtually) own today starting with the adorable crypto felines.

CryptoKitties (launched 23 November 2017)

“Collectible. Breedable. Adorable. Collect and breed digital cats.”

Collectible unique (non-fungible) ERC-721 tokens represented by cat avatars akin to virtual Beanie Babies or Pokemon cards. Each CryptoKittie represents a different non-fungible ERC-721 token on the Ethereum blockchain. Much of the game’s appeal comes from its breeding system and the unique offspring that can emerge. When two CryptoKitties breed, their offspring’s appearance, biography, and traits result from each parent’s 256-bit genome, leading to 4 billion possible genetic variations.

CryptoPunks (launched June 2017)

“10,000 unique collectible CryptoPunks with proof of ownership stored on the Ethereum blockchain.”

These 10,000 collectible characters rock an 8-bit sci-fi punk style represented by an almost compatible ERC-20 token running on the Ethereum blockchain. Variable attributes include Hair, Gender, Eyes, Facial Hair, Glasses, and Special Type.

MoonCats (launched August 2017)

“We are undertaking an Insanely Cute Operation to the moon to save the MoonCats from imminent danger, and we need your help. Are you ready to help?”

Move over CyptoKitties, the MoonCats are on the prowl! These 25,600 procedurally generated digital cats are managed by an Ethereum smart contract. Each unique visualizations is rendered in a dark 8-bit retro pixel art style. You can use your browser to mine for cats to “rescue” using an off-chain algorithm, the MD5 checksum of which is stored in an Ethereum smart contract. (A small gas fee in Ether is required to sign the contract to claim your mined MoonCats.)

CurioCards (launched June 2017)

“With Curio Cards you can own rare and collectible digital artwork, and interact with it in amazing new ways, all built on proven blockchain technology.“

CurioCards are ERC-20 compatible Ethereum collectible tokens represented by a card image stored in IPFS. The tokens are ensured to be “limited in number and provably rare” through a smart contract that limits each card’s total supply (which may be 1 in extreme cases). Its mission is to create a platform for artists and collectors that “finally benefits artists.”

RarePepe Tokens (launched 2017)

“Thanks to Bitcoin and Counterparty we can associate these Rare Pepes with tokens to make them truly rare.”

User-generated Pepe memes are linked to specific tokens and get listed on the Rare Pepe Directory after a thorough inspection by “Rare Pepe Scientists.” Token supply is limited, making them truly scarce (“rare”) digital Pepe assets.

CryptoPets (announced, not launched)

“CryptoPets is a blockchain-based game for collecting, trading and raising your digital pets. All the affection of a real pet, but on the Blockchain.”

Variable attributes include: Species, Class, Visual (fur color, eye shape, paw, etc), RPG (Health, Attack, Defense, and Speed). CryptoPets claim to be limited in numbers and determined by class.

Spells of Genesis (Launched in 2015)

“Spells of Genesis is a mobile game that is a mix of a trading card game (TCG), bringing in deck collection and strategy, along with arcade-style gaming aspects.”

A Mobile RPG/collectible card game for iOS and Android launched in 2015 with the token sale of “BitCrystals”, a Counterparty (XCP) cryptocurrency used as a means of in-game exchange for some game items. In December 2017, it announced its “blockchainization” to exchange in-game assets.

NovaBlitz (Steam Game since July 2017, token sale Launched December 2017)

”The Nova Blitz real time trading card game is the first game to integrate the Nova Token platform.”

Nova Blitz is a real-time, digital, collectible card game set in a future universe. The Nova Token is an in-game currency allowing for in-game purchases and the trading, buying, and selling of cards.

Deckbound Heros (Announced 2014, Steam Game since March 9 2017)

“Deckbound Heroes is a competitive multiplayer strategy card game. With no RNG or deck draw mechanic, the game’s focus on strategy is often compared to that of chess or Go.”

Deckbound supports a set of digital collectible card games that use the same cards. Every card is backed by a “blockchain” transaction with a “permanent, identifiable record.” Deckbound uses https://bitbind.io/ APIs which offers a middleware for representing objects and associated tags using the Bitcoin blockchain.

Cryptibles (launched November 2017)

“Cryptibles are blockchain-secured digital collectibles. They can be collected, stored, and shared easily by mobile users!”

iOS and Android apps to create custom collectible tokens using an Ethereum smart contract. Information about the asset is stored using a “hybrid database-blockchain approach to provide the convenience of gas-free P2P transfers with ability to quickly transfer back to an Ethereum address on the blockchain.” The ERC-20 compatible tokens can be traded independently of the app.

Note: I tried the Android version of this app. It asked for invasive permissions such as photo library and phone access, but I denied all of them and the app still worked. Use with care.

CryptoZombies (launched 12 December 2017)

“CryptoZombies is an interactive code school that teaches you to write smart contracts in Solidity through building your own crypto-collectables game.”

Hot off the presses from the Loom Network is a unique interactive ERC-721 crypto-collectible builder with an interactive coding platform. Learn Solidity by building your own Zombie Army. Every Zombie you create will have randomly generated DNA and have its own unique appearance. Further lessons (1 released each week) will add more functionality to your game, like the ability to battle other people’s zombies! I’m really excited about this project.

Decentraland

Partial visualization of the in-progress Decentraland LAND auction as of December 20th, 2017

Let’s not forget Decentraland LAND tokens are fully compliant ERC-721 tokens, enforcing cryptographic uniqueness and associating each LAND parcel’s x and y coordinates with a definition of a parcel’s 3D scene that makes up the larger metaverse. Over 97,183,887 inMANA tokens have already been bid on, representing the largest virtual land auction in history. (Stats as of 22 December 2017)

Get Involved

Do you have a killer idea for combining crypto-collectibles with the virtual world? Are your CryptoKitties feeling lonely out there in the Ether? Just want to see what this whole thing is about?

We are on the final stretch of the Terraform event, the largest ever virtual land auction. You can still register at http://terraform.decentraland.org , and participate in the auction at http://auction.decentraland.org — Remember that additional time is added to all parcels that receive last-day bids.