From a Crypto Game to Infinity: NFT Origins Story


Cats and the internet! What is it with these two? They just can’t stay away from one another. That’s why in 2017 we see how one cheeky crypto game about cats takes over the Ethereum blockchain. Or was it because some smartypants created “CryptoKitties”? In this real-world Pokemon-based game, people would trade unique assets for “crypto-money”.

CryptoKitties: The Ultimate Crypto Game

In October 2017, NFTs had their first mainstream moment when the first virtual cat was bred. Soon, blockchain enthusiasts started raising, trading and breeding more crypto kitties.

The crypto game CryptoKitties quickly rose to stardom on the blockchain as transactions started to go over the roof. The cryptokitties value rapidly went beyond the 500ETH mark (more than $140,000 at that time).

Nevertheless, more than having people crazy about some pixelated images of cats, the CryptoKitties crypto game raised considerable awareness to the NFTs. The hype caught on very well, especially because this crypto game was using a new Ethereum standard called ERC-721.

The previous ERC-20 standard did not allow for proper token creation. The ERC-721 is now the standard for NFTs and it enables developers to produce and exchange digital assets. Each token is unique and cannot be duplicated or wiped out. Moreover, the standard allows for ownership tracking.

If you’d allow us a quick peek into the near future… there are two more non-fungible token standards in the works now. They could open the door to even more NFT use cases.

The first standard is ERC-1155. This one allows listing both fungible and non-fungible tokens on a single smart contract or address. So, you can have fungible tokens as currency, and non-fungible ones as collectibles.

The second token is ERC-998, and it allows the creation of “packages” or whole portfolios that you can trade in a single transaction. So, yes, NFTs have a long journey ahead, and we might discuss the larger scope in a different article.

Right now, let’s get back to CryptoKitties.

What is a Crypto Kitty?

A Crypto Kitty is a cheeky image of a cat that you can breed, raise and trade. Ok, so what’s the catch of this crypto game? Not one crypto kitty is like the other. Every single one has a distinct 256-bit genome that dictates unique characteristics, such as colour, breed, and other attributes such as:

  • pattern
  • mouth shape
  • fur
  • eye shape
  • base colour
  • accent colour

When you breed a new crypto kitty, a part of these characteristics can be passed on to the new digital feline offspring.

Take this Missus Bubblesbug here. He was born on January 10th, 2019, hatched by a Kitten Mittens. He’s a Gen 1, with a fiery personality. His bio reads: “I’m Missus Bubblesbug, how the hell are ya!? I listened to Tyler the Creator before it was cool (…)”. He seems nice. Would you like Missus Bubblesbug?

Crypto game Crypto Kitty
Image source:

There are infinite possibilities of breeding them, mixing and matching their unique genomes to create another unique type of cat. Much like in real life, right?

And it isn’t just a game. These cute little images of crypto kitties cost money. Well, more precisely, Ether, as the game was originally created on the Ethereum blockchain.

What is the most expensive cryptokitty?

Well, in 2018, less than a year from the launch date of this crypto game, the crypto kitty Dragon was sold for 600 ETH (that’s almost 2 million dollars now!). This is, to this date, the most expensive crypto kitty transaction.

One Generation 0 cat, one of the founder cats of this crypto game was also the subject of a 253ETH-worth transaction. In today’s value, that’s more than $800k.

The Pudding Daintytot is now on sale for $1m. Yes, this is crazy. The Crypto Kitties were indeed the rocket that sent NFTs into the atmosphere. And when you think about it….cats! Each individual, non-fungible token could be anything the creators wanted, and they wanted it to be cats. We told you, there’s something about the internet and cats!

The NFTs’ Origins Story Up Until the Crypto Game

So, CryptoKitties are part of NFTs’ Origins Story, but this crypto game is not the entire story. There’s more to that. Let’s take a short journey down NFT memory lane.

On December 2012, the concert of NFTs takes shape as part of the “Colored Coins” project. Funny enough, this project was intended to be built on the Bitcoin blockchain. The concept stemmed from the idea of creating some sort of non-fungible real estate assets on the blockchain. Nevertheless, Bitcoin’s scripting language limitations made the project difficult. Nevertheless, the concepts expressed in “Colored Coins” laid the foundation of what NFTs are today.

Fast-forward to 2014 when the peer-to-peer financial platform, Counterparty, takes shape. Built on the Bitcoin blockchain, the platform was trading cards and memes. One year later, in 2015, Spells of Genesis became the first game to issue assets on the blockchain. In 2016, memes with the Rare Pepes characters were being traded on Counterparty.

In October 2017, the project CryptoPunks launched on Ethereum. It was, at that time, the only real marketplace for digital art. Anyone who had Ether could claim one of the 10,000 different crypto punk characters for free. All of them were claimed in a very short time, and that easily created a second marketplace. Collectors saw the opportunity of selling them for increasing prices.

The ERC-721 standard that we were talking about above, had not been developed yet. The Crypto punks were issued using a hybrid of the ERC20 standard.

Then, in 2017, the crypto game CryptoKitties exploded. It got so big, in such a short time, that it caused delays in other Ethereum transactions, and crowding other applications from the blockchain. Ethereum miners had to increase the gas limit, and marketplaces like OpenSea or RareBits quickly jumped to support the hype.

The Bottom Line

Crypto Kitties was a crypto game serving the very first mass example of producing artistic collectibles on the blockchain. It became a mega-sensation featuring on CNBC and Fox News at that time. We probably have the cats to thank for this blessing.

Cats saved the Internet once again and now we can express ourselves and create the artwork we feel like creating, like this Music Treasure Collection based on the lottie file format. What’s your NFT?

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