What are CryptoKitties?

Summary of CryptoKitties NFTs

  • CryptoKitties are non-fungible tokens representing digital cats, each with a unique set of characteristics.
  • The collection quickly gained popularity upon its 2017 launch, slowing the transaction speed of the entire Ethereum blockchain and challenging its scalability.
  • Two CryptoKitties can be “bred” together – each CryptoKitty NFT embodies a 256-bit “genome” that can pass on its traits.
  • CryptoKitties plans to migrate to its own dedicated blockchain on the Flow network, enabling greater functionality and lowering transaction costs.
what are cryptopunks nft

CryptoKitties are non-fungible tokens (NFTs) of unique digital cats. Minted on the Ethereum blockchain, CryptoKitties emerged as one of the world’s first and most widely recognized blockchain games. 

CryptoKitties was created in 2017 as a gamified NFT collection intent on making blockchain technology more accessible to new users. As one of the earliest NFT collections on Ethereum, CryptoKitties helped to reimagine both the gaming and collectibles markets. Its innovative functionality and strong user base have helped CryptoKitties retain a high NFT floor price and monthly user base long after its launch.

Collectors with more than one CryptoKitty NFT can “breed” their NFTs together. Each new NFT created from the breeding process has a unique combination of traits derived from its lineage. CryptoKitties lingo refers to these traits as “cattributes.” Each bred CryptoKitty NFT is a one-of-a-kind collectible with its own unique features recorded on the blockchain. 

CryptoKitties was a pioneering project and the first to use Ethereum’s ERC-721 token standard. 

Several years later, the collection is in the process of transitioning to the Flow blockchain. The creators of CryptoKitties developed Flow to enhance the accessibility and scalability of non-fungible tokens like CryptoKitties.

Five CryptoKitties NFTs

Who created CryptoKitties NFTs?

CryptoKitties was created in 2017 by Canadian startup Axiom Zen as a way to explore real-world uses for blockchain technology.

Axiom Zen received more than $12 million in venture capital funding, including funds from prominent firms Andreesen Horowitz and Union Square Ventures. The creators of CryptoKitties then formed Dapper Labs from Axiom Zen in order to focus on CryptoKitties NFTs and the broader NFT market. 

Dapper Labs would go on to partner with the National Basketball Association (NBA) to launch the highly successful NBA Top Shot NFT collection in 2020 – netting nearly one million dollars in 2021 sales volume.

Roham Gharegozlou is the founding CEO of Dapper Labs and Flow. Prior to his involvement with Dapper Labs, Gharegozlou was the founder and CEO of Axiom Zen.

What makes CryptoKitties NFTs unique?

As one of the first and most popular NFT projects, CryptoKitties introduced blockchain technology to thousands of early adopters, gamers, traders and collectors alike. The early days of the collection's release and sales are now the stuff of crypto legend.

Interest in CryptoKitties was so great from its inception that it created an estimated sixfold increase in the number of Ethereum transactions. At one point, it accounted for 25% of the transaction volume on the network. 

The surge in volume caused a significant drop in transaction speeds and an increase in gas fees across the entire Ethereum network. When this event occurred at the height of the 2017 bull-run cycle, it emphasized the Ethereum network's scalability challenges and threatened to crowd out other decentralized application startups building on the blockchain.

The demand for CryptoKitties NFTs may be credited in part to the 256-bit DNA sequence assigned to each one. The unique features of each CryptoKitty results from a combination of its parents’ cattributes. This genome mechanism allows for nearly four billion unique CryptoKitties to be minted from parent CryptoKitties.

The popularity of CryptoKitties NFTs has also attracted high-profile celebrity collaborations. Muse, a popular rock band, and Momo Wang, a famous Chinese fashion designer, both participated in custom-themed cats for the CryptoKitties franchise. 

NBA superstar Stephen Curry is perhaps the most notable celebrity to endorse the project. His early involvement resulted in the creation of three CryptoKitty NFTs styled after him.

CryptoKitties NFTs benefited from a first-mover advantage in the NFT space. Being among the first gamified NFT projects on the blockchain, the collection has seen tens of millions of dollars worth of CryptoKitties transacted between hundreds of thousands of players. 

But CryptoKitties isn’t a game with a rulebook where players take turns to compete and win. It is a gamified experience that uses buying, breeding, selling and siring CryptoKitties NFTs to build and engage an active community of collectors and fans. These activities generate demand and value for the project.

The basics of breeding CryptoKitties NFTs

Beyond regular market buying and selling activity, breeding and siring are the hallmark features of CryptoKitties’ gamification. Breeding is done with two Kitties in an owner's possession, and siring is done by creating an auction in the public marketplace to breed one owner’s CryptoKitties NFT with another.

As the community breeds and sires new Kitties, the CryptoKitties NFT supply grows. Each new generation of Kitties minted typically increases the value of the generations that came before it. Certain rare cattributes of early generation Kitties can begin to appear more frequently through continued breeding. Other cattributes end up retaining their rarity and value over time.

CryptoKitties NFTs can be divided into distinct subgroups. Alongside the more typical CryptoKitties NFTs are the rarer Fancies, Shiny Fancies, Special Editions and Exclusives. 

These cats may have a limited time frame in which they can breed, and in rare instances, may have been awarded to players by the Dapper Labs team itself. The first 100 CryptoKitties ever created are known as Founders, and their genetics remain an important part of the CryptoKitties NFT game.

Why buy CryptoKitties NFTs?

Cat lovers and blockchain enthusiasts alike may enjoy CryptoKitties’ innovative take on owning and breeding a digital pet. Others might enjoy the artwork or take pride in knowing that their animated pet is unique and cannot be replicated. Traders may want to speculate on the appreciation of rare traits discovered through breeding their new pets.

Ongoing developments within the franchise are another reason many are attracted to CryptoKitties NFTs. CryptoKitties aims to eventually migrate to its own dedicated blockchain on the Flow network. Flow has the potential to improve the CryptoKitties NFT experience by reducing fees and enabling greater functionality. 

Along with creating opportunities for new animated art, Flow aims to make CryptoKitties more interoperable with newer games on the platform. The continuing development of the CryptoKitties brand may translate to increased adoption and help generate value for the collection well into the future.

What makes CryptoKitties NFTs valuable?

There are many different factors that contribute to what collectors are willing to pay for a unique CryptoKitty NFT. 

Although it may be challenging to assign an objective price, there are three things to consider when valuing a CryptoKitty: rarity, utility and appearance.

Rarity: The less common the feature, characteristic or cattribute, the more value it has. Rare examples include:

  • The earliest CryptoKitties NFTs (These earliest CryptoKitties are also known as Gen0)
  • Low ID numbers or the number the NFT received upon being minted
  • Exclusive CryptoKitties NFTs that cannot breed or can only breed for a limited time
  • The “Jaguar” cattribute found only in the first 99 Kitties (ID #2-#100)

Utility: The more useful CryptoKitties NFTs are for breeding, the more valuable they are. Valuable traits include:

  • Quick cooldown speeds, meaning the CryptoKitties NFT can breed more Kitties rapidly. 
  • Purebred CryptoKitties that contain the same “gene” in all four slots for a particular cattribute. This means the CryptoKitty has a higher likelihood of passing their cattribute on, making them more predictable for breeders.
  • The number of mutations a CryptoKitty NFT has. More mutations also mean a higher likelihood these traits will be passed on. Kitties bred with multiple mutations are more likely to have rare offspring and produce Fancies.
  • Fancies, which are created through a specific combination of genes and traits that can reliably produce CryptoKitties with a specific cattribute theme.

Appearance: The overall aesthetic of the Kitty can give it value. Visual features include:

  • Color combinations and themes, which can be deemed beautiful or ugly depending on personal taste.
  • Eyes and mouths, which are a CryptoKitty’s most expressive aspects and key to their  personality.
  • “Mewtation Gems” found with the first CryptoKitties NFT in a lineage to appear with a novel cattribute.

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