Ethereum-based online game Cryptokitties swept the internet by storm. Recently its sales hit $12 million. Its launch caused an unprecedented congestion for all Etherians, and a few days later, cryptokitties’ address became the busiest hot-spot on the Ethereum network, accounting for more than 10 % of all transactions. Gas price of ether shot up, and users had to pay anywhere between 3 to 5 USD for a transaction to be executed successfully. Disgruntled Etherians blame cryptokitties for hogging up their favorite Ether highways. Others offer more sympathetic views, citing the importance of stress-testing the network before Ethereum reaches mainstream adoption.
But wait, you’re saying there are more to these digital kitty stickers than meet the eyes?
See, you should look past the cuddly, cutesy cat pictures and try to replace them with everything tradeable on the planet. Real estate? Now we’re talking. Intellectual properties rights? Absolutely. Artworks? You bet. Employment contracts? Commodity exchanges? Elections? That’s the spirit! You see, cryptokitties offer a window into the future of Ethereum’s potentials, and it doe so without the need of explaining complicated technical jargon behind “smart contracts”, “blockchains”, and “global supercomputer.”
Each kitty is given a string of DNA unique to itself: they cannot be replicated or destroyed, and are owned forever by you under the ever-watchful eyes of the Ethereum smart contract. Now, let’s imagine instead of a kitty, you have a lot of land, a house, a car, etc. Each house will have a string of numbers attached to it, and it can be as simple as clicking “purchase” to have said house’s ownership transferred to you. All done under smart contracts, of course. The entire process might last no longer than a minute. Once the contract is executed and uploaded onto the blockchain, the seller receives his cash, and the owner receives the ownership of the house. This contract is immutable, forever available to the public, and immune to falsification. Compared that to the kind of paperwork you would need to fill in if you were to purchase a house in 2017. I know, right?
That is not to say everything’s all good and dandy. Ethereum still has to overcome its scalability challenges. And for these types of smart contracts to work, you need governments to change their legislation as well. Simply put, the records on smart contracts must be backed by the law for it to have any effect. But if you’re struggling at understanding why the world is excited about Ethereum, perhaps go take a look at how cryptokitties work. You’ll learn more about smart contracts via that game than you ever will from reading Ethereum’s whitepaper, anyway.