Virtual fur flies as 'CryptoKitties' collar blockchain

December 6, 2017
If I was virtual, would you love me to bits?
If I was virtual, would you love me to bits?

Never mind Bitcoin mania taking the doyen of virtual currencies into the stratosphere. The real online craze to get with right now is to breed virtual cats.

Net-based cousins of the Tamagotchi digital pet launched in Japan 20 years ago, "CryptoKitties" are wowing owners of Ethereum, one of Bitcoin's main rivals.

With some 50,000 sold for more than $6.6 million (5.6 million euros) in total, according to the creators' website, the critters are steadily collaring the blockchain, the digital virtual ledger on which so-called crypto currencies run.

Ethereum owners use their virtual cash to buy the creatures, then to bring them up and feed them while taking care generally to look after their well-being.

Launched last week, "CryptoKitties" have become all the rage with on Ethereum community transaction platforms and have already account for some 5 percent of exchanges, according to specialist data site ETH Gas Station.

The game, a self-running 'smart contract' app created by Canada's Axiom Zen, requires a computer running the desktop version of the Chrome browser or Firefox MetaMask, a digital wallet.

Each kitten has unique characteristics—all logged on the Ethereum blockchain—as well as an unlimited lifespan.

According to its creators, "CryptoKitties are collectible and breedable digital cats.

"When two CryptoKitties breed, their offspring's appearance and cattributes are determined by each parent's 256-bit genome and an element of chance, leading to 4-billion possible genetic variations."

Prices in this pixels-pet market place Wednesday ranged from 100,000 Ethereum (around $222) for "Hot Cats Here" —who admits to a "secret indulgence" for steak —to G17 Mouki, going for less than one hundredth of a cent and with a confessed penchant for lasagne and cereal.

In the first week since the laptop log-on litter launched, two transactions saw feline fans shell out more than $100,000—the record saw one kitten go Sunday for $117.712,12 but the mean price is nearer $131, the creators said.

Bloomberg News has described the game as the first successful non-coin related application to emerge on blockchain and noted if such applications take off they could prove a rival to the $108.9 billion global PC and video games market.

On the downside, the high demand is slowing down the speed of transactions on the blockchain and forcing a hike in prices.

"Due to congestion on the network we are increasing the birthing fee from 0.002 ETH to 0.015 ETH. We hope this will allow more kittens to be born on time as there have been significant delays," CryptoKitties tweeted.

Explore further: Bitcoin dispute results in split-coin

Related Stories

Bitcoin dispute results in split-coin

August 1, 2017

A dispute among developers of virtual currency Bitcoin gave birth Tuesday to a new version of the crypto coin after they failed to agree on software changes.

What is bitcoin? A look at the digital currency

November 29, 2017

The price of a single bitcoin has pierced the $10,000 level and some experts say it could rise further. The world's most popular virtual currency allows people to buy goods and services and exchange money without involving ...

The blockchain does not eliminate the need for trust

November 16, 2017

A common idea about the blockchain, the technology that powers Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, is that it can "create trust", or allow two parties to make a transaction "without relying on trust".

Forget oil, Russia goes crazy for cryptocurrency

August 16, 2017

Standing in a warehouse in a Moscow suburb, Dmitry Marinichev tries to speak over the deafening hum of hundreds of computers stacked on shelves hard at work mining for crypto money.

Recommended for you

A not-quite-random walk demystifies the algorithm

December 15, 2017

The algorithm is having a cultural moment. Originally a math and computer science term, algorithms are now used to account for everything from military drone strikes and financial market forecasts to Google search results.

US faces moment of truth on 'net neutrality'

December 14, 2017

The acrimonious battle over "net neutrality" in America comes to a head Thursday with a US agency set to vote to roll back rules enacted two years earlier aimed at preventing a "two-speed" internet.

FCC votes along party lines to end 'net neutrality' (Update)

December 14, 2017

The Federal Communications Commission repealed the Obama-era "net neutrality" rules Thursday, giving internet service providers like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T a free hand to slow or block websites and apps as they see fit ...

The wet road to fast and stable batteries

December 14, 2017

An international team of scientists—including several researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory—has discovered an anode battery material with superfast charging and stable operation ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.