Blockchain and kittens: who could ask for more?

Blockchain is the buzzword of the moment: cryptocurrencies of all kinds, smart contracts, property registers, myriad transactions… Put blockchain in a headline and people pay attention. So it was only a matter of time before someone decided to blend blockchain with that most timeless feature of the web: kittens.

You can laugh, but as we speak, 4% of all transactions on Ethereum, the blockchain created by Vitalik Buterin and regarded by many as the most powerful and versatile, are dedicated to the acquisition of CryptoKitties, virtual pets with a set of cattributes (ouch) that players can acquire, collect and breed in the hope of increasing their value. There is something of Pokémon Go in all this, but it uses Ethereum to create a permanent and timeless record, giving each kitten complete traceability and a virtual, “genetically” unique object. There are also Fancy Cats, which the designers have given special characteristics, names and attributes (Feline Musk, Kitty Perry, etc.)

The mechanism used to create cats is similar to other cryptocurrencies, with a certain limit: kittens are released approximately every 15 minutes, but the algorithm imposes a limit on these first generation creations. From there, they can be obtained by joining two kittens, with a series of rules that regulate, for example, the frequency or the delay between each process. With the exception of the first players, who got a free kitten each, everyone else has to pay for them.

Nothing more than entertainment… but there is method to the madness: based on the current ether value, some kittens have already been bought and sold for amounts exorbitant sums, such as the almost $120,000 for the first kitten created, with others coming in at around $5,000. The business model of the platform is, in addition to selling the original kittens, to take a percentage of 3.75% for each transaction. In reality, CryptoKitties is an ICO, based on tokens and in which the tokens are the kittens and their value rises according to how many people decide to play with them, raise them, buy them or sell them. At the same time, users, who have to install a digital wallet, MetaMask, to be able to carry out in-game transactions, will learn about familiar with concepts such as cryptocurrencies, Ethereum or ICOs, which is no small thing. Some people may lose some money, depending on their self-control in a game in which everything, absolutely everything — except the money — is completely virtual.

(En español, aquí)