CryptoKitties goes viral on the Ethereum blockchain

By: Michael Harris
Michael Harris
Specialising in economics by academia, with a passion for financial trading, Michael Harris has been a regular contributor to… read more.
on Dec 5, 2017
Updated: Sep 18, 2019

Dapps were a big part of Vitalik Buterin’s original pitch for Ethereum (ETH). The idea of decentralised apps running on the Ethereum blockchain is what attracted many of Ethereum’s early adopters. Yet, nearly two and a half years after its inception, Ethereum still lacks an app that could introduce the concept to mainstream audiences.

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Enter CryptoKitties. Released just a few days ago, this decentralised Tamagotchi is perhaps not the killer app Ethereum supporters have been hoping for, but it nevertheless demonstrates the concept of dapps in a fun an accessible way. It is also one of Ethereum’s most popular apps.

The game uses the Ethereum blockchain to create a public, shared history of unique virtual kittens. The app had 100 of these crypto pets available for sale upon its release and generates a new “Gen 0” kitten every 15 minutes. Users can buy, sell and breed kittens, with Ether tokens being used for payments. Since the game’s launch on November 28, people have spent nearly $5 million worth of tokens on virtual kittens. According to reports, at times CryptoKitties accounted for 15-20% of Ethereum’s traffic on Monday, with popular decentralised token exchange EtherDelta a distant second with an 8% share. At the moment EtherDelta appears to be in the lead, but both apps are pretty much neck and neck at just over 9.5%.

The popularity of the game reached such highs yesterday that it caused a congestion of the Ethereum blockchain. This forced the CryptoKitties team to increase “birthing fee” from 0.001 ETH to 0.002 ETH to incentivise miners to add birthing transactions to the blockchain.

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