The blockchain world has produced a remarkable story in the name of CryptoKitties, where people can buy, breed and trade virtual cats. But let me guess, you are wondering what it is and how it all works? Well, you've come to the right place!
By the way, did you know that the Ethereum game 'CryptoKitties' became so popular in December 2017 that it was responsible for 25% of all Ethereum traffic? Crazy, I know!
Anyway, this complete CryptoKitties beginners guide will tell you everything you need to know, including how the story began, how their Genetic Algorithm technology works, and most importantly, how to play CryptoKitties!
If you are already confident with your CryptoKitties knowledge, feel free to skip to the ‘How to Play CryptoKitties section’.
So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get started!
What is CryptoKitties?
CryptoKitties was created by Canadian startup Axiom Zen in December 2017. Axiom Zen is involved in lots of different things such as software development and virtual reality, however, CryptoKitties has been one of their most successful projects so far!
The founders wanted to create an Ethereum game that would allow anyone in the world to own virtual cats that were created from a smart contract. Every cat that is created is unique, which includes different colored fur, eyes, and hair!
There are also different CryptoKitty genders, which take their names from a male or female horse! A male CryptoKitty is called a Sire and females are called Dames!
Think of it like a human’s DNA. Everyone on the planet has a unique internal DNA which is never the same as anybody else’s, which is the same with CryptoKitties! The technology that supports this is known as the Genetic Algorithm, which I will explain in more detail later.
Although CryptoKitties is called a game, you can’t really do anything with them other than buy, breed and sell them.
Some cats are much rarer than others and these can be sold for a lot of money. In some cases, people have paid more than $100,000 dollars for a single cat!
Do you remember the Pokémon card game, where you would buy a packet and hope to get a rare card like Charizard? Well, CryptoKitties is very similar as when new cats are created they are randomly generated from a smart contract code!
Is CryptoKitties a cryptocurrency?
People often make the mistake that holding CryptoKitties is the same as owning a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin or Litecoin. Well, it’s not! CryptoKitties have no value outside of the network, nor can they be traded with other digital tokens or coins on third-party exchanges. However, as people are prepared to pay money for them, CryptoKitties are actually ‘blockchain assets’.
CryptoKitties are created on top of the Ethereum blockchain and they are ERC-721 tokens. ERC stands for Ethereum Request for Comments. There are many variations of ERC, with the most popular being ERC-20. However, ERC-20 tokens cannot be differentiated from each other which means they are fungible.
A real-world example of a fungible asset is the U.S. dollar. If you lend someone a $20 note, when they pay you back it probably won’t be with the exact same note that you gave them. This doesn’t matter as whatever note they give you it will have the same value and can be spent in the same way.
ERC-721 tokens are non-fungible. This means that every single token is unique and can be independently verified. Think of this like owning a plot of land. Although there are many different plots of land in the world, the plot you own is unique! This is the same as CryptoKitties!
Where do CryptoKitties come from?
The first ever CryptoKitty was born on December 2nd, 2017. Since that date, a new one has been created by the Ethereum blockchain every 15 minutes, which will happen until November 2018. These CryptoKitties are called Generation-0 kitties and there will be 50,000 of them in total.
However, CryptoKitties can also be created in a different way! Do you remember how I told you earlier that you can get both male and female CryptoKitties? Well, just like real-life kittens, CryptoKitties can breed with each other to make new CryptoKitties!
The easiest way to breed is if you own both a Sire (male) and a Dame (female). However, if you only have one of those, you can find someone else to help you!
Let’s say you own a Sire (male) CryptoKitty and want to breed it. You would need to find somebody that owned a Dame (female) CryptoKitty, and once you do, you can start the breeding process!
The important thing to remember is that the owner of a Dame (female) gets to keep the newborn CryptoKittie! However, if you only have a Sire (male) you can still make money as you can charge the owner of a Dame (female) a Siring Fee! Unlike Generation-0 CryptoKitties that are created by the developers, there is no limit to the amount of CryptoKitties you can create by breeding!
When a new CryptoKitty is born, they inherit some attributes from their parents. Interestingly, the CryptoKitty developers call these “Cattributes”! Think of it like a newborn human baby. They might take their mother’s black hair and their father’s crooked nose.
However, the baby might also have unique features like really big feet! This is the same as a newborn CryptoKitty and they are generated randomly! Don’t forget, the rarer the features of the newborn, the more value it may have!
So, now that you know where they come from and how new ones are born, I am now going to talk about the CryptoKitty marketplace!
The CryptoKitty Marketplace
Remember how I said that CryptoKitties is a blockchain asset? Well, that means that you can buy, trade and sell them in an open marketplace!
Firstly, Generation-0 cats are considered the most valuable, as there will only ever be 50,000 of them. These are originally owned by the developers of the platform, so when they sell them, they keep all of the profits. As a further note, the developers also make a 3.75% profit on every now-Generation-0 transaction that happens in the marketplace.
Anyway, the marketplace is very similar to eBay as you will see a long list of CryptoKitties available to buy. The currency used to purchase them is Ethereum (ETH). Each CryptoKitty will be priced differently and will depend on how rare they are.
Once you decide to buy one, the CryptoKitty token will be automatically sent to your ERC-271 wallet, so it’s really simple to use. If you want to sell your CryptoKitty, you can decide how much ETH you want to sell it for. Once somebody buys it from you, the ETH will be sent straight to your wallet!
As there are thousands of different CryptoKitties for sale, you can sort the search results. For example, you can sort it by age, generation number or value!
The CryptoKitties marketplace has been an instant success since it was launched in December 2017. In its first week, more than 60,000 people signed up, with a total of $5 million in CryptoKitty sales! Just one week later this increased to 150,000 users and $15 million worth of CryptoKitties being sold!
One thing to remember is that every single time you buy, sell, breed or trade a CryptoKitty you will need to pay an Ethereum blockchain transaction fee.
As the game became more and more popular, transaction times were slowing down. To solve this problem, the developers then decided to increase the GAS fees to make sure that people didn’t have to wait long periods of time before their CryptoKitty transaction was completed.
So now that you know how the online marketplace works, the next part of my CryptoKitties guide is going to talk about how the Genetic Algorithm works!
The main technology that makes each and every CryptoKitty unique is the Genetic Algorithm feature. The terminology can be quite difficult to understand, so I am going to explain it in a really simple way!
You might remember how I explained earlier that a CryptoKittie's unique features are similar to that of a human's DNA, which displays information about how your body works. Your DNA decides everything about you, such as whether you have straight hair, if you are tall or short or what color of skin you have!
In the world of CryptoKitties, the Genetic Algorithm determines the background color, facial expression, whether the cat has stripes and the patterns on their fur!
In a human body, DNA is made up of lots and lots of different proteins that are related in a certain way. However, the Genetic Algorithm use numbers instead! Where a human is born with a 50/50 mix between their mother and father, the genes of their parents are mixed.
When talking about the Genetic Algorithm, this is called a crossover. Let’s take a look at my example below.
Human DNA Genes of Mother crossover with genes of Father = DNA of baby
CryptoKitty DNA 01011101 (unique number of Dame) crossover with 011110010 (unique number of Sire) = 010110010 (unique number of newborn CryptoKitty)
As you can see in the above example, the numbers used to generate a unique CryptoKitty are binary, meaning that only 0 and 1 are used. Also, no two sets of numbers can ever be the same, which makes sure that your newborn CryptoKitties are unique!
Don’t forget, although the new CryptoKitty will have very similar features to its parents, it will have slight differences too. The most valuable breeding is done by those who are using both a rare Dame and a rare Sire!
All of the above codes are generated through Ethereum smart contracts, which means that everything is automated. For example, when you decide to breed, the individual binary codes of the Dame and Sire are sent to the blockchain and the smart contract returns a new code, which is the newborn Crypto Kitty.
Each CryptoKitty smart contract is hosted by a decentralized application, otherwise called a dApp. The CryptoKitties platform is one of the most successful dApps of all time and it allows the Genetic Algorithm to be converted into visual objects that look like cute cats! Rather amazing, isn’t it?
For a more detailed explanation of how smart contracts and dApps work, see my guide here!
So now that you understand how Genetic Algorithm works, I am going to give you a quick demonstration on how to get started with CryptoKitties!
How to Play CryptoKitties
Buy some Ethereum
Before you can get started with CryptoKitties, you will need to buy some Ethereum (ETH). The easiest way to do this is with Coinbase, as you can easily and quickly buy some using your debit/credit card or bank account. To see my guide on how to buy Ethereum with Coinbase, click here!
Once you have bought yourself some ETH, you now need to install a virtual wallet called MetaMask. This is the wallet that is compatible with the CryptoKitties platform and it will allow you to buy, breed and sell cats.
The MetaMask wallet is really simple to use and you can even install it as a Google Chrome extension! Once you have set MetaMask up, transfer your ETH into it.
Create a CryptoKitties account
- Now that you have a MetaMask wallet funded with ETH, you can visit the CryptoKitties website and create an account. Here is the link!
- You will first need to enter your email address and choose a nickname. As you will see in the below screenshot, your MetaMask wallet address is automatically inserted.
- You will now be shown the CryptoKitties terms and conditions. Make sure you read them before clicking Agree!
- Next, a MetaMask popup box will ask you to sign in to CryptoKitties. Click on Sign In
- You should now be on the CryptoKitties platform, which means you have successfully opened an account!
How to buy CryptoKitties
If you have followed all of the steps so far, you should now have a MetaMask wallet that is funded with ETH and be on the CryptoKitties platform with a registered account. It’s now time to go and buy some CryptoKitties!
- At the top of the page, click on Marketplace
- As you will see from the screenshot below, there are 140,000 unique CryptoKitties to choose from! That’s a lot of breeding!
- If you click on the Filter button, you can select what type of CryptoKitty you want to buy.
- As you will see below, the most expensive CryptoKitty for sale is priced at 100,000 ETH! As of May 2018, that is worth over $60 million! That is out of my price range, so I am going to buy the cheapest one instead
- I like the look of Kitty 702165 which costs 0.002 ETH. Click on the picture of the one that you want to buy.
- Now you need to click on the orange Buy Now button!
- Before the trade is completed, you will need to confirm the amount. Once you are happy, click on OK, buy this Kitty.
- A MetaMask pop-up box will now be displayed, showing you details of the transaction, along with the GAS fees. Finally, to complete your trade, click on Confirm.
That’s it, you’ve just bought your very own CryptoKitty! Once the Ethereum blockchain processes the transaction (which shouldn’t take longer than a few minutes) the token will be displayed in your MetaMask wallet!
How to breed a CryptoKitties
Now that you know how to buy Crypto Kitties, I am now going to quickly show you what you need to do to breed it!
It is important to remember that only the Dame (mother) gets to keep the Crypto Kitty, so if you have a Sire (Father) you won’t get anything. However, some people charge for this service (known as a Siring fee) if they have a rare Sire!
Do you remember how I mentioned Generation-0 coins being worth the most as there will only ever ben 50,000? Well, if a Generation-0 Dame breeds with a Generation-0 Sire, then it will produce a Generation-1 CryptoKitty.
In another example, if a Generation-2 Dame breeds with a Generation-4 Sire, it will produce a Generation-6 CryptoKitty! The lower the Generation, the more expensive the Siring fee will be!
- At the top of the screen, click on the Search box.
- Below the search box, tick the box next to Siring.
- You can sometimes find Sire’s that are happy to breed for free, which is great! I like the look of Kitty 5144811. Find the Sire you want to breed with and click on its picture.
- Next, click on the pink Breed Now button
- Now you will need to select which of your Dame’s you want to breed! Click on Select a Kitty to complete the process. Once you confirm the transaction, the new CryptoKitty token will be sent to your MetaMask wallet!
I hope you have enjoyed my Crypto Kitties guide! I think it’s amazing how popular this game has become in such a short amount of time!
So, what do you think about CryptoKitties? Do you think you are going to buy a CryptoKitty of your own? If so, what kind of cat are you looking for? It all depends on how much money you want to spend I guess. Generation-0 Dame’s will always be the most expensive because you always get to keep the newborn token!
If you read my guide from start to finish, you should also have an understanding of how the Genetic Algorithm works. It’s really cool that the smart contract technology works in the very same way as DNA!
Finally, you should now be able to go and use the Crypto Kitties platform on your own. If you decided to go and buy one, let me know which CryptoKitty you bought. I’d love to see what it looks like!
So, that's it. That's my guide on how to play the incredibly-popular cat breeding game, CryptoKitties!