In December 2017, a large number of users trying to make payments within the Ethereum platform found that their transactions were hanging. The reason was network congestion, and the reason for that congestion was a game known as Cryptokitties.
The concept behind Cryptokitties was simple: users buy digital representations of kittens – each of which are unique – and then combine pairs of these digital representations to breed new kittens. The idea was for users to collect and/or breed evermore cuter kittens. The cutest of those kittens subsequently became a very tradable asset, regularly being sold in the Cryptokitties marketplace for upwards of a hundred dollars.
The game became immensely popular – to the annoyance of more “serious” users of the Ethereum network – and at least one kitten is thought to have sold for in excess of $100,000.
Those kittens then, or at least some of them, became digital collectibles. Some kittens, by dint of their being cuter, were esteemed to have higher value than others.
What underpinned this value, however, was the uniqueness of each kitten. And what underpinned that uniqueness is something known as ERC721 – a protocol created on the Ethereum platform that allows developers to allocate unique characteristics to each individual token.
ERC721 will be for non-fungibles what ERC20 was for fungibles. Expect a mass proliferation, starting on top of Ethereum – Chris Burniske
To take the concept further, CryptoCarz, a gaming outfit is now seeking to replicate the Cryptokittens experiment for sports cars which are owned, assembled and raced by users within a virtual reality context.
The implications are intriguing if CryptoCarz or any similar venture can replicate the success of cryptokitties. By creating prized assets, this time within a virtual world with those assets now pegged to blockchain-secured, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) such as Ethereum’s ERC721, we are likely now on the verge of witnessing the emergence of a VR economy.
With Blockchain technology which can now programme uniqueness and thus value into assets, and which also guarantees and secures their ownership, virtual racing cars may be set to become every bit as expensive as their real-world equivalents if the Cryptokitties experiment is anything to go by.