The CryptoKitties have recently reached an important milestone because players have raised more than a million unique virtual kittens in a demonstration of utility or perhaps the stupidity of blockchain technology.
Blockchain, which is the basis for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, is a secure and transparent ledger that works on decentralized networks. It allowed Axiom Zen, who distributed Dapper Labs to run CryptoKitties, to create unique digital objects known as "cryptocollectibles" or "non-fungible tokens", which can not be copied. When the rare CryptoKitties are born, players can make an offer for them, increasing their value, which is why some CryptoKitties have sold more than $ 200,000.
The game, if you can call it that, became a sensation after its debut in November, but the activity slowed down while the cryptocurrency craze subsided. But the idea is to make blockchain technology accessible and relevant to everyday consumers, and the company is trying to make it happen even more through the KittyVerse, where developers can create new applications on CryptoKitties.
CryptoKitties accounted for about 25 percent of Ethereum's traffic and over 3.2 million transactions occurred on CryptoKitties' smart contracts. Before the birth of the millionth CryptoKitty, a cat named Dragon sold for 600 Ethereum (about $ 170,000) on the official market.
Gonzo or not, this kind of activity has allowed CryptoKitties Axiom Zen creator to raise 12 million dollars from Andreessen Horowitz and Union Square Ventures. I spoke with Bryce Bladon, head of communications and a member of the founding team, on the CryptoKitties phenomenon.
Here is a modified transcript of our interview.
GamesBeat: the level of activity around games like CryptoKitties is hard to understand, just by looking outside. Many things have grown, but the number of people involved in this is not as exciting as, for example, console games that sell to millions. What's interesting about the level of activity?
Bryce Bladon: Well, I would like to point out that there are fundamental differences between a console game and a blockchain game, not least the fact that console games have been around for about 40 years.
GamesBeat: But nobody pays $ 140,000 for a single console game.
Bladon: Not yet, at least! I think EVE Online could have the most comparable examples for things like that, but it's still not the same. For me, the aspect that is most interesting, many people are able to treat DAUs as the only measure to determine if something is or is not successful. I would certainly agree that it is an important consideration, but I would also like to stress that it is far from the whole picture. Trying to equate something like CryptoKitties, or any blockchain experience, to something with which people are more familiar, like Facebook, is not a good parallel in my mind.
Someone has suggested from the beginning, in the early days of CryptoKitties, that unless the users go back five out of seven days, it's nothing. I agree that something should be used to be valuable and understood, and this is the whole ethos behind CryptoKitties and why we launched it with a fractional product. I also think that there is a valid consideration for the various ways people use these things.
A good example could be something like Blockchain Cuties, which actually has experiences outside the chain as part of their game, precisely for this reason. It's a clever way to overcome the challenges of scaling while still allowing people, even if it's a mostly superficial expression, to interact with their collectibles or their NFT or whatever else you want to call in these days.
GamesBeat: The thing to note is that here there is only a lot of transaction value.
Bladon: Absolutely. CryptoKitties is literally the most used smart contract in blockchain, outside of exchanges. There is a lot of activity. I think a couple of weeks ago we had 1,200 transactions on Eth in a week, something to that effect? Numbers still very substantial. Regardless of what I said about the DAUs, they are going up. It is very impressive. The extension of this commitment is also increasing, and for me it is impressive too.
GamesBeat: Some people also consider it as players and, artwork, graphics, are not impressed by that aspect. It is difficult to understand that something with such simple graphics is proving so sought after. I see some parallels with other blockchain games, like Hyper Dragons. If you look at the graphics for this, it is also very simple, with a very rudimentary interactivity. Obviously, the graphic is not a problem that counts above all for some people.
Bladon: Yes and no. I would answer a couple of things. First of all, the idea that all this game is, all that is a CryptoKitty, is an image. In my opinion, art has improved substantially, but it's just me. At the same time, we talk about graphic fidelity, and this is important for a degree. I played games all my life, and I do not miss the days of Atari, when you had E.T. stumbling in three colors. But still, keep in mind that blockchain games as an industry, as a category, existed for what, 10 months? Although there were some basic experiences before CryptoKitties. It is a bit narcissistic for me to frame it that way.
A CryptoKitty in itself is not just the image, the art. This is certainly an expression of this. But what could be tomorrow is much more. What is already is much more. We have 48 KittyVerse experiences under construction at this time from 100 different teams. What your CryptoKitty is in each of these things could be completely different. It's yours and you can use it as you see fit. This is not just an advantage in the game. This is the first example of a new type of digital resource. Whatever you call, what makes it irresistible and interesting and new is a variety of factors.
I appreciate that the graphics are important. I appreciate the good pixel graphics, personally. A good piece of pixel art, for me, is almost more interesting than the perfect 3D graphics of the Unreal engine. But in both cases, more or less the same way, once again, another primary motivation with CryptoKitties was to put a consumer-friendly face on this technology, on this practical innovation with the ERC 721 token.
GamesBeat: C & # 39; is it perhaps a comparison to be made at the beginning of the iPhone? Or the first time I played Battlezone in arcades and I thought the wireframe 3D graphics were amazing. At the dawn of the iPhone, the graphics had nothing to boast about and are now approaching the quality of the console.
Bladon: A favorite of mine is every time I see a scan of an old video game magazine of the 90s, and those are terrible N64 models and a great headline on how the graphics can not be any better than this. But I digress. The pictures of cats, if you do not like them, I can understand why you do not like CryptoKitties right now, and that's okay. But it is only one aspect of many others.
I will also discuss, on behalf of the design team, that there are literally – I can not remember if there are 17 billion or 17 trillion visual combinations, but suffice it to say that there are many visual combinations, and they are all modular. All the various cattributes or traits or genetic expressions – I think we could be over the hundreds at this point. All these different eyes and ears and so on can adapt and create something beautiful or weird or whatever you're looking for in your perfect digital cat. This is a very interesting aspect.
GamesBeat: aspects of uniqueness and ownership capture people's attention – the ability to own something that could be more valuable over time.
Bladon: For sure. And I have already mentioned the team building in KittyVerse, but it is worth noting that each of these experiences, those projects, represents a new utility and a new value that can be applied to your cat. There are many different ways to apply value to these things, more or less the same way as art.
You were talking about how people do not understand why a picture of a cat should sell for so long. Well, I might not understand why a piece of canvas with paint on it should sell as much as some original art works. But when you put it in context – a time, a culture, a place, a piece of history, or even just a personal connection with that thing – I could give my personal cat more value than you think it's yours. There are many reasons why people find value in things. And the fact that it is protected and strengthened by blockchain technology is truly unique, to be digitally scarce, to be able to possess it and to be essentially immortal – nothing can take it away from you – it's unbelievable. Unlock the ability to remodel our entire relationship with digital resources.
Right now it's just a nice picture of a cat. Tomorrow could be an expression of that cat's AR and VR. I could give you a hint about something interesting coming up next week. And besides that, who knows? But it's more than a picture of a cat in a frame. It will take a life outside that frame, I assure you.
GamesBeat: do you think of CryptoKitties as a game, or something more like a platform on which several developers work to take these resources and use them for their games?
Bladon: It's a fair question. I would say that CryptoKitties is a game, but I also admit that it is potentially only one aspect of a much larger game, the KittyVerse. CryptoKitties is perhaps the breeding and market aspect of that game.
This aspect of the market is good and bad. The result is all this great print. But it also contributed to that mentality that many people have had with cryptocurrency: speculation, purchase and overturning. While people attribute value to these things is very important, they neglect much more than what these things represent and why they are so interesting.
GamesBeat: Do you find the status of blockchain and cryptocurrency to be where you want it to be, or do you think it needs a lot of improvements to things like speed and cost of transactions?
Bladon: I am constantly struck by the people who are developing and building in this space. It's true since we launched CryptoKitties, and much earlier. At the same time, probably for the same reason, I'm glad to see that the ICOs and all these coins that came out to capitalize on an investment foam are somehow slowed down, or at least they are at much less crazy levels.
As for the state of technology as a whole, again, it's only been 10 months since we launched CryptoKitties, and much progress and improvement has been made. Some of these have been inspired by us, and some of them are in direct opposition to us. I would consider both equally valuable. A diversity of people building in space translates into a variety of great new ideas. Honestly, decentralization as a concept requires that diversity exists.
I think the problems of scalability and the problems of convenience in the use of blockchain technology still need to be clarified. We must find the right balance between the real world and the cryptic sometimes – the right balance between centralization and decentralization. I love the dreamers in this space, but I think we need a dose of what would make your daily use of this stuff, if we want to be relevant.
Obviously the value of something must be decentralized and must come with the titles. But about three months ago we saw another bottleneck on the Ethereum network because an exchange used transactions as a voting mechanism to get the coins listed on it. From the outside – this is exactly what I thought – it seemed to me that it was a public relations stunt around a sort of corner of notoriety. He looks crazy. I understand where they might have been inspired, but this is the definition of doing something in a way that does not serve the end users, no one else is needed in space, and it seems that it was done only for personal gain. It's worrying that space is still playable that way.
GamesBeat: It seems a lot of fun to find the best uses or combinations of blockchain and games. You did a good job there. Can you see more areas where others are taking advantage of this combination?
Bladon: The potential always exists for bad players to capitalize on opportunities. I think that ingenuity leads him sometimes. At the time of the launch of CryptoKitties, at the time we counted a quarter of the Ethereum network. Although I'm not a big fan of most ICOs, I've never meant this product that we were launching to block so many of them. It was never our intention. But this emphasized a problem in space and made it a priority for the Ethereum network.
This, for me, was a net positive. That said, of course I will not point out areas where I think scammers could have a fat life. But I would like to emphasize that it is necessary to aspire to the best in people. You just need to take the right steps to protect yourself, protect your customers and protect the creators of third parties that may eventually build around you, to make sure they have on-site protections.
Decentralization is incredibly powerful as a concept, with the value that it can potentially bring to people. But it means that there is no great frightening central service that can say yes or no. I think it's mostly good. With regulatory questions and all these other aspects, regulations by definition should be there to protect consumers. You can form arguments on both sides. I'm not going to wade up that mess.
GamesBeat: We just released another big story outside of Japan, where another wallet was hacked. It is still the wild west, to a certain extent.
Bladon: It's getting less wild, though. It's still wild in a fun way. But now I think it has cooled down a bit and many people are hibernating during the winter to continue building. It's something that I'm very excited about.
One of the key aspects of CryptoKitties since its launch, and even now, is the adoption by developers, and not just the experiences of KittyVerse. Obviously we want it, but I think it's a win for us and for everyone else in space if the next big innovation, the next big viral thing, does not come from the CryptoKitties team. For me it is a great sign. By definition, decentralization is and should be – you do not want only a child prodigy who does everything, because it falls apart when that person gets bored.
Obviously I'm oversimplifying and I would be thrilled if we did the next big thing and solve the next big problem. But space, by definition, needs a whole community of innovators and builders. He needs a lot of people who have an impact, not just a cute cat in the middle who decides which way he should go. I do not think it would be the best possible version of the future of this sector. This is why we have such an emphasis on empowering independent creators, and why we have a launch program to help them understand a sustainable revenue path. That's why we have the development tools we offer for free. That's why we released the Nifty license and iteratively improved on it, and all these other things. You lower the barrier to get in and make sure all the ships have grown up with this big kitten-shaped whale.
GamesBeat: It's interesting to have Ubisoft jumping in. I wonder if some of the other big boys will understand what to do.
Bladon: Oh, it was interesting. I am so impressed by Ubisoft. I am incredibly happy that the Rabbids have made two official crossovers: Mario and CryptoKitties.
GamesBeat: Something else you'd like to talk about?
Bladon: The number of offers for people managing our next ICO members has stopped annoying me on LinkedIn, and I see it as a positive network. [laughs]