“CryptoKitties” Becomes Largest Ethereum-Based Decentralized Application
CryptoKitties, the massively popular Ethereum-based digital kitten breeding app and collectibles marketplace, has surpassed major decentralized cryptocurrency exchange EtherDelta to become the largest decentralized application (dapp) on the Ethereum protocol by gas consumption.
According to ETH Gas Station, the CryptoKitties Ethereum smart contract accounted for 13.94 percent of Ethereum’s transaction volume over the last 1,500 blocks, surpassing non-custodial cryptocurrency exchanges EtherDelta and ShapeShift.
Reason behind the success of CryptoKitties
CryptoKitties allows anyone within the Ethereum network to purchase or sell breedable cartoon kittens. The decentralized structure of the Ethereum network disallows the alteration of ownership or production of fraudulent kittens, providing value to the kittens as collectibles with scarcity and rarity.
ProductHunt founder Ryan Hoover explained that CryptoKitties is essentially the first Ethereum-based decentralized Pokemon-like game, in which users can collect and breed digital kittens. The key difference between CryptoKitties and other games like Pokemon and Tamagotchi is that through a decentralized marketplace, users can purchase or sell breedable kittens with Ether.
As shown by Crypto Kitty Sales, three of the rarest and expensive digital kittens on CryptoKitties were sold for $114,573, $81,549, and $69,600 respectively, amounting more than 572 Ether.
The CryptoKitties dapp gained popularity amongst Ethereum users and members of the global cryptocurrency community primarily due to its unique model and its strategy. The CryptoKitties development team noted that the platform was created for everyone in the cryptocurrency sector, and it is not limited or exclusive to a handful of users and organizations.
“The future is exciting. And we believe that Blockchain is the future—but Blockchain is about as approachable as a bunch of ones and zeroes. We want a future for everyone, not one exclusive to Bitcoin miners, VCs, ICOs, and other equally fun acronyms,” said the CryptoKitties team.
Is CryptoKitties sustainable?
Techcrunch reported that $1.3 mln worth of cartoon kittens on the dapp have been traded. Users have spent more than a million dollars on purchasing cartoon kittens on the platform over the past few weeks. The growth rate of the CryptoKitties platform has increased to a point in which it had led to an Ethereum network congestion.
“Due to network congestion, we are increasing the birthing fee from 0.001 ETH to 0.002 ETH. This will ensure your kittens are born on time! The extra is needed to incentivize miners to add birthing txs to the chain. Long-term solution will be explored very soon,” said CryptoKitties on Dec. 4.
As Coinbase co-founder Fred Ehrsam stated, Ethereum-based dapps like EtherDelta have the potential to target and penetrate a multi-trillion dollar industry in the long-term, given that Ethereum’s scaling issues can be solved within the next few years. The cryptocurrency exchange market alone is already a multi-billion dollar industry. Soon, Ethereum-based exchange protocols will be able to provide infrastructures to compete with leading financial institutions in the global market.
In contrast to such ambitious projects, dapps like CryptoKitties serve a much smaller purpose, to simply entertain the cryptocurrency community with a collectibles-based game. But, CryptoKitties has utilized the Ethereum Blockchain network to create the first successful decentralized game, and in the long-term, developers in the traditional gaming industry could explore and evaluate the success story of CryptoKitties.
Loveable Digital Kittens Are Clogging Ethereum’s “Blockchain”
Vitalik Buterin and other developers see it as a push moving ethereum to proof-of-stake
Can a crypto app be too easy and fun?
That might be the case on ethereum, where one project is proving so popular it’s putting pressure on the network’s technology. Best thought of as a decentralized Tamagotchi, CryptoKitties appears to be striking a nerve with new users, making ethereum fun and accessible to those who aren’t in the tech nerd domain.
Already, the app, which uses ethereum’s blockchain to create a public, shared history of cryptographically unique (not to mention cute and cuddly) fluffballs, is ethereum’s most popular, with users having spent at least $3 million total on breeding, buying and selling the in-game items. Up from $1 million just yesterday, the average cat is now trading for $100 in ether.
But the application is clogging the ethereum network, putting transactions in a long-time limbo.
“Due to network congestion, we are increasing the birthing fee from 0.001 ETH to 0.002 ETH. This will ensure your kittens are born on time!” the CryptoKitties team stated in a tweet surrounded by siren emojis to express the direness of the situation.
In its short lifespan, CryptoKitties has grown to make up 20 percent of all ethereum computations, a number that seems to still be growing.
While it’s certainly not the sole culprit behind ethereum’s lagging transactions, as ethereum developer Nick Johnson pointed out, it is one, and at the very least, it’s where people are placing the blame for exposing ethereum’s limits.
Johnson continued, telling CoinDesk:
“CryptoKitties is definitely a significant contributor to network congestion, and it may have been what pushed us over the edge from mostly-full blocks to full blocks in the last day or so.”
The issue is a bit ironic, seeing how ethereum is touted as a world “world computer” that hosts unstoppable decentralized applications, replacing the internet.
With aspirations like that, it might seem strange that one app for trading otherworldly kittens could clog the network, but because of the way blockchains work – with every transaction needing all network nodes to process it – there are limits on the number of computations that can be done all at one time.
Not only does that mean that an insane amount of kitty trading can slow down the network, but it can also add to the expense of using ethereum as well.
And whether people are right to point fingers at the CryptoKitties app or not, it is laughable that kittens are bringing new awareness to the messy underbelly of public blockchains, including ethereum, bitcoin and many others – scalability.
As a tweet from coder Boris Kozak displays, the issue is well-established and there are many proposed fixes, including state channels, Raiden, sharding and Casper – ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin’s and other developer’s interest in moving ethereum to proof-of-stake – but all these solutions require major engineering work and are still unfinished.
“It may also hasten the ethereum scaling crisis,” tweeted BlockTower chief information officer Ari Paul.
Others made parallels to bitcoin’s fierce scaling debates – which this year saw several groups split from the main bitcoin blockchain to create new versions of the protocol, in bitcoin cash’s case raising the block size limit to allow for more transactions.
Johnson Lau, Bitcoin Core contributor, quipped on Twitter:
“We need Ethereum Cash or many kittens would be killed.”
Blessing in disguise?
In short, ethereum has its work cut out for it.
And as usual, whether or not you think CryptoKitties is a positive movement for the ethereum community is colored by whether you support the protocol in the first place.
Ethereum supporters have a reason to be excited that an app is finally showing what the platform is capable of, as outlined in a reddit thread, which lauds the game as a successful proof-of-concept.
“I’m glad smart contracts are productizing a variety of use cases beyond speculation,” said The Initiative for Cryptocurrencies & Contracts (IC3) researcher Phil Daian, pointing to the bout of speculation generated by the thousands of initial coin offerings (ICOs) that have launched on the blockchain.
And Buterin even chimed in, tweeting: “I actually like the digital cat games. They illustrate very well that the value of a blockchain extends far beyond applications that would literally get shut down by banks or governments if they did not use one.”
And, as far as scaling ethereum goes, many are glad it’s bringing awareness to the issue – one ethereum user even called it a “blessing in disguise.”
Martin Köppelmann, founder of ethereum app Gnosis, echoed that sentiment, telling CoinDesk:
“If it is that successful – and even if it increases fees, even better – it will reveal weaknesses of the current tech but ultimately make it better. I’m all for experiments.”
[06 DEC 2017]
Transactions supporting the popular CryptoKitties app are continuing to congest the ethereum blockchain, a state of affairs that has spurred at least one startup to briefly postpone its planned initial coin offering (ICO).
The token sale for SophiaTX, originally planned to start on Dec. 5, has been pushed back to ensure an orderly sale, the team behind the project announced today. SophiaTX, which is developing a blockchain platform for business-to-business use cases, said it will hold its ICO on Thursday, Dec. 7.
The problem, the team said, is that the activity around CryptoKitties – an ethereum-based app that uses tokens to represent digital cats that can be traded, exchanged or bred to create more e-pets – has effectively clogged up the blockchain.
As a result, users – including those trying to participate in token sales via the ethereum network – are stuck with longer wait times given the plethora of transactions associated with the CryptoKitties app.
“We have decided to delay the [token generation event] start by 48 hours because a very large number of participants will use ETH during and it would be a major disappointment if their attempted contributions wouldn’t be processed timely and that would result in a significant backlog of transactions with very long waiting times,” they said in a statement.
It remains to be seen whether the interest around CryptoKitties will lead to similar decisions. Statistics from ETHGasStation.info, a network data provider, suggests that the network congestion has eased somewhat compared to yesterday.
[07 DEC 2017]
Ethereum users are calling for a solution to the protocol’s CryptoKitties invasion.
As profiled by CoinDesk, the cat-trading game had grown so popular earlier this week that it was clogging the ethereum network, slowing down transaction times. Now, however, congestion is reaching unprecedented levels, with a record-breaking 30,000 transactions stuck and waiting to be processed at press time.
“Can we please increase the gas limit?” pleaded one user on a Reddit thread, itself a chorus of agreement on the issue.
“Is the blockchain completely frozen?” asked another user.
Indeed, despite facilitating nearly $7 million-worth of ether trades and winning new users to the platform, the game is attracting a level of vitriol: “Fuck cats. When will they solve this problem? I have been waiting for 20 hours now,” said another user on ethereum’s Gitter channel.
That’s not to say there aren’t ways to relieve the issue, and, so far, arguably the most likely solution is increasing the network’s “gas limit” – a metric that puts a cap on the number of transactions and smart contracts that can happen across the network.
Christian Reitwiessner, an Ethereum Foundation engineer and the co-founder of scaling protocol, Truebit, is one developer who agrees this approach might be an easy solution.
He told CoinDesk:
“The miners raising the block gas limit is the only short-term solution against our new feline overlords for now.”
Not so easy?
Yet, while that’s good news for beleaguered users who haven’t been shy about their frustrations, it turns out that the change could have unpleasant side effects, making some developers more hesitant to embrace the concept as the best path to a quick fix.
Helping the cause is that there’s already precedent for the approach.
For example, this wouldn’t be the first time ethereum has become overcrowded and the network has fallen back on making adjustments to the gas limit. In the past, miners (the stakeholders that have control over setting this cap) have followed developer recommendations to do so.
Earlier this year, popular initial coin offerings (ICOs) led to a glut of transactions on the network and developers encouraged miners to raise the gas limit by about 33 percent.
But according to Ethereum Foundation developer Nick Johnson, increasing the gas limit again “isn’t likely to be practical” today.
Johnson told CoinDesk that raising the gas limit could also boost the so-called “uncle” rate, where blocks are added to the blockchain temporarily but later rejected. Currently, the uncle rate on ethereum is around 30 percent of blocks, and he believes a further increase could be to the detriment of security, since users could interact based on transactions that will later be rejected.
The operator of ethereum’s largest mining pool, Ethpool, drew the same conclusion.
“Increasing the gas limit will likely make the current situation even worse,” a spokesperson for the pool said on social media, adding:
“Without substantial improvements … I don’t think increasing the gas limit further is feasible right now.”
The arguments are uncannily reminiscent of the debates raging over bitcoin scaling. Similar to the way many bitcoin users and businesses have argued for a block size increase, ethereum users are requesting a gas limit increase so as not to ruin the user experience of quick, inexpensive transactions.
Meanwhile, developers of bitcoin, and now ethereum, argue other long-term scaling solutions are best, but could take some time.
Indicating the complexity of the situation, CryptoKitties’ head of community, Benny Giang, hasn’t yet taken a stance on the gas issue, saying the firm trusts miners to “do what’s best for the network.”
“We obviously don’t want them to do anything that will compromise the value of the network,” Giang added.
That said, developers haven’t told miners to increase the gas limit yet, and instead, they’re brainstorming other short-term solutions.
Johnson suggested that “performance improvements” might help reduce the uncle rate, even if the gas limit were raised. However, he added that those measures would require clients develop and release new software, which could take time.
Others argued that users could always increase the fees added to their transactions, which would push them through faster. But already, it costs $1 to initiate a transaction to make simple things happen within the CryptoKitties game, and users are likely to be turned off by higher costs.
Still, while this is all up for discussion, it’s possible a temporary solution could come by on its own.
Believing CryptoKitties can’t sustain its current level of interest forever, Reitwiessner said he believes the best route might be to accept it as a short-term issue.
He told CoinDesk:
“There has to be a point where the cat supply can satisfy the cat demand (I can’t believe I’m writing these words), and this will probably crash the cat prices and thus, also the interest in the game.”