What Is CryptoKitties, and Is It Worth Playing?

Blockchain might be best known for its importance to cryptocurrencies and some corporate uses through companies like IBM, but a phenomenon is sweeping across the globe that focuses on cats.

If you haven't heard about CryptoKitties and how popular it's become, you soon will. The game is built on blockchain and allows you to buy and sell CryptoKitties to others playing the game. It'll cost you some money to play, but if you're good at breeding and your goal is to make some cash, it's actually possible with some effort.

CryptoKitties is a first for gaming on blockchain, so there will be some growing pains as you play the title. But after a bit of time and effort, chances are, you'll find CryptoKitties to be just as addicting and appealing as everyone else who's hooked on the title.

So if you're considering playing CryptoKitties and want to see what all the fuss is about, read on. But get ready for some serious talk about blockchain and cryptocurrencies.

What Is CryptoKitties?

CryptoKitties is a video game built on blockchain that allows you to purchase, sell and breed virtual cats. The game surged to new heights in December 2017 and has maintained its position as one of the most addictive games in the world.

In CryptoKitties, your goal is to collect and breed cats to ultimately grow your collection and, if possible, make some serious cash on the creation. But beware that, to get the job done, you'll need to spend some of your own cash to buy cats and improve your breed line.

Right, but what are CryptoKitties?

CryptoKitties are virtual cats that are completely owned by you. Each CryptoKitty is unique, thanks to distinct genes that are determined by a slew of factors, just like real-world cats. The CryptoKitties can be bred with others to create new breeds and spawn new characteristics that could ultimately be good or bad.

Each cat has its own unique number and 256-bit genome and DNA. Their mouth shapes, fur, colors and personality characteristics are passed down from parent to child cat.

Because of the limitations to the cats in circulation and the relatively limited genomes, the game will cap out at a total of 4 billion bred cats. But don't worry — that limit won't be hit anytime soon.

Is it a cryptocurrency?

Nope. But it does operate on the cryptocurrency Ethereum's blockchain. To buy CryptoKitties, you'll need to use Ethereum. So, yes, there is a cryptocurrency element to the game.

How much money can I make from my CryptoKitty?

This is a bit of a moving target, depending on the quality of your CryptoKitties, how much time you invest in the game and more. You also need to consider how much you've spent over your time playing to breed your kitties.

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That said, there's a lot of money to be made. And some CryptoKitties have gone for more than $100,000 when they were sold to other people. Siring fees can vary depending on your kitty.

The highest-selling cat as of this writing is Genesis — the first CryptoKitty ever created — which sold for a whopping 246.9255 ether. That translates to about $117,712.

So, this is a game?

Yep, it's a game. But it's also big business for some people who take it seriously and go out of their way to create truly unique and appealing CryptoKitties.

What do I need in order to play?

Unfortunately, CryptoKitties isn't a mobile game, so you'll need to use a Mac, PC or Linux machine that has the full, desktop version of Chrome or Firefox running.

Next up, you'll need to have your own MetaMask digital wallet. MetaMask works with web apps like CryptoKitties. Finally, you'll need Ether, which is the cryptocurrency unit that’s used on the Ethereum blockchain and that will work with CryptoKitties.

How do I get my hands on a CryptoKitty?

You'll need to buy one. And you'll need to use Ethereum to pay for your CryptoKitties.

To buy one, you'll need to head to the Marketplace inside CryptoKitties. There, you'll see a variety of CryptoKitties for sale. You won't find a standard price for any one CryptoKitty, so you'll need to dole out different amounts of cash depending on what you're buying. Prices vary widely depending on the cat you’re buying. But you expect to pay anything from a few bucks to any number to get your hands on one.

Because many CryptoKitties are bought at auction, there's no telling what you'll spend. But the starting price for a CryptoKitty at auction is set at the average price of the past five CryptoKitty sales, plus 50 percent.

New "Gen 0" cats, or those that haven't been bred from others, are released every 15 minutes in the game. The folks behind the game get a 3.75-percent transaction fee on the sale of those sales.

If buying a CryptoKitty isn't for you, you can also have someone give you one as a gift. The game also includes some contests in which you can win a CryptoKitty.

How do I breed CryptoKitties?

The real fun comes in the form of breeding.

To breed CryptoKitties, you'll need to have a sire and a dame. If you have two CryptoKitties, simply choose one to be the sire and the other to be the dame, and they'll take it from there. And note that there's no real gender differentiation in the game, so the sire you had in the last breeding round can be a dame the next time around.

If you have only one CryptoKitty, you'll need to head back to the marketplace and look for a sire to breed with your CryptoKitty. Once the baby is born, it becomes your CryptoKitty, and you now will have two.

When you're ready to have your CryptoKitties breed, you'll have to press a button that reads, "Okay, give them some privacy."

How much does breeding cost?

To breed your CryptoKitties, you'll need to spend some cash. Every breeding session includes a transaction fee and a birthing fee. Currently, the breeding fee is set at 0.008 Ether (approximately $4.69). The transaction fee will vary.

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If you choose to breed your CryptoKitty with someone else's sire, you'll also need to pay a siring fee to the owner of that CryptoKitty. Prices on that vary.

So, once I breed the perfect CryptoKitty, what happens?

You're now the proud owner of another CryptoKitty! You'll get a look at what your kitty looks like and the attributes you can use to inform future breeding plans. You'll also find that your dame or sire will need some time to recover after the birth.

Once everything settles down, you'll be able to breed again.

Meanwhile, if you feel you have an outstanding sire, you can put the CryptoKitty up to breed with others.

Credit: CryptoKitties

Don Reisinger is CEO and founder of D2 Tech Agency. A communications strategist, consultant, and copywriter, Don has also written for many leading technology and business publications including CNET, Fortune Magazine, The New York Times, Forbes, Computerworld, Digital Trends, TechCrunch and Slashgear. He has also written for Tom's Guide for many years, contributing hundreds of articles on everything from phones to games to streaming and smart home.