There’s no question, cats are the rulers of the Internet. Our feline overlords are on the front page of reddit every day, in countless Youtube videos, and now they’ve taken over the cryptocurrency and bitcoin competitor Ethereum.
CryptoKitties is a game where users can collect, trade, and breed virtual kittens using smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain. Over the past couple days, the game has exploded in popularity. It was officially released on November 28th and Axiom Zen, the Vancouver and San Francisco-based tech company that made the game, already had to raise the price of joining because the sudden influx of new players was jamming up Ethereum’s network.
But what exactly do cats have to do with cryptocurrency?
First off, CryptoKitties is built on the same thing that makes cryptocurrency possible, blockchain technology. All you have to do is buy some ether and use it to pay for your very first feline friend. Once you buy your first kitten, that transaction gets added into the blockchain as a permanent receipt of your purchase.
CryptoKitties is sort of like buying a virtual toy, except with digital scarcity literally built into the purchase. There’s no central authority overseeing the game, with everything instead decentralized and tracked on the blockchain. That permanent online record is meant to guarantee the kitties you buy and the money you spent won’t just disappear overnight.
The CryptoKitties website describes them as “cryptocollectibles” that you can buy, sell, trade, and even breed. This is all made possible by the concept of digital scarcity, which basically means that there are a finite number of kitties that can be created. It’s the same principle that sets an upper limit on the number of bitcoins that can be mined at 21 million.
This is what CryptoKitties from experiencing inflation. The plan is for all possible kitties to spontaneously come into existence by November 1, 2018. After then, the only way to get your hands on a new kitty will be by breeding ones you’ve bought from other players or already had.
Breeding, however, allows players to spawn other kitties from the ones they already have. This has its limits. Like with real cats, it takes two to make a new one. Each time your original cats create another, it takes the cat longer and longer to be ready to breed another. This increased cool-down time is in place to make sure that no one tries to start a virtual kitty mill.
While it may be tempting to call CryptoKitties it’s very own cryptocurrency, the creators of the game insist that it’s not. Rather, it’s a product that can simply only be purchased using ether.
“The real-world analogy for a cryptocurrency is dollars or pounds; a cryptocollectible’s real world analogy is closer to assets like baseball cards or fine art,” says the CrytoKitties FAQ page.
This new market of collectable kitties has unprecedentedly taken the crypto-world by storm. People who never would have never thought about purchasing Ether are now rushing to get their hands on some fancy cats. You can chalk up its popularity to people’s obsessions with collecting things. It plays off of the same concepts that fueled Pokemon Go’s moment in the limelight. Only this is using the best damn animal on the internet.
Further proof that cats make everything better.