Crypokitties: the Beanie Babies of blockchain

Cats might not be the first thing that pop into your mind when you think about blockchain but that happens to be the newest trend in the digital world.

The trend is called ‘Cryptokitties’ and it’s a colorful blockchain game where users can purchase, sell and breed your own unique digital cats. You can either breed your own kitties together or pay another player to use their cat as a sire.

The game’s currency is ether, the currency of the blockchain-based computing platform Ethereum. So far, the kitties have proven to be a hot commodity and one man has actually made more from it than investing in his IRA.

Since the game launched back in November, The New York Times has reported that 18,000 players have already signed up and spent a total of $20 million in ether. Some people are even comparing the digital trend to an earlier craze that was focused on stuffed collectibles – Beanie Babies. Some of the special editions of these ubiquitous animal-shaped bean bags, such as the Princess Diana and Millennium bears, became rare gems, with some first editions still fetching up to £35,000 on eBay.

“From a high level, abstract point of view, this stuff is almost digital artwork, if you will. It doesn’t have any inherent value other than what you think it’s worth,” said Joey Krug, co-chief investment officer at Pantera Capital, one of the earliest investors in bitcoin.

Each kitty has a 256-bit genome. This means that there are 4 billion possible variations, according to the company with the primary distinguishing feature being a “cooldown” time (the time it takes a kitty to recover after breeding) which can vary from 1 minute to 1 week. Generally, a quicker cooldown time means a pricier kitty.

This vision of blockchain technology allows developers to create applications on top of the network, which does not need a centralized third party to operate. Some proponents have said that this could change the world just as much as the internet did.

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