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CryptoKitties craze slows down transactions on Ethereum

From BBC - December 5, 2017

A new craze for virtual kittens is slowing down trade in one of the largest crypto-currencies.

CryptoKitties lets players buy and breed "crypto-pets" on Ethereum's underlying blockchain network.

The game's developers told the Bloomberg news agency that CryptoKitties was a "key step" to making blockchains more accessible.

But its popularity has underscored one of the technology's biggest downsides: its lack of scalability.

Etherscan has reported a sixfold increase in pending transactions on Ethereum since the game's release, by the Axiom Zen innovation studio, on 28 November.

"CryptoKitties has become so popular that it's taking up a significant amount of available space for transactions on the Ethereum platform," said Garrick Hileman, from the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance.

"Some people are concerned that a frivolous game is now going to be crowding out more serious, significant-seeming business uses."

An estimated $4.5m (3.35m) has been spent on the cartoon cats at the time of writing, according to Crypto Kitty Sales.

What is a CryptoKitty?

Think of these rather unpalatable cartoon kittens as unique digital Pokemon cards. The game's developers describe them as "breedable Beanie Babies", each with its own unique 256-bit genome.

These crypto-collectibles are also gender-fluid, able to play the role of either the "dame" or the "sire" when bred together. The kitties' unique DNA can lead to four billion possible genetic variations.

Some of the varieties created so far look lifelike, with grey striped fur and bulging green eyes. Others are speckled with neon-blue spots or magenta-patterned swirls.

How much are CryptoKitties worth?

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