Entertainment

Online digital collectors investing millions on imaginary cats

Online digital collectors are spending millions of real dollars on internet money for emoji-like fake cats. The newest thing in the confusing world of cryptocurrencies, CryptoKitties lets you exchange Ethereum for cartoon kittens.

Ethereum is one of the newer cryptocurrencies on the market. Like bitcoin it is a made up currency based on something called a blockchain, which is a fancy name for a set of digital records that stay accurate without an official institution keeping them organized.  

Axiom Zen, the tech company who designed the code that controls the CryptoKitties, attached tokens to each of the kittens based on this electronic currency, and made a game out of it.

Released in late November, CryptoKitties are pictures of cartoon cats that exist only on the internet, and are currently being bought from as low as $20 to well over $50,000. 

There are many free browser extensions to easily open an Ethereum account which is used to manage and buy the cryptocurrency. With Ethereum in hand, the user then heads over to CryptoKitties.com to pick out their first cats.  After a few days of breeding users could have their first litter of new cats, with the entire lot possibly being worth several times the initial investment.

The user can either have two of their own kittens mate, or pay another user to mate with theirs to produce offspring and try and nail down unique characteristics, which determine its value.    

In addition to the unique characteristics each cat is “born” with, it is also labeled with what generation of kitten it is. The original “generation zero” was released by Axiom Zen. Older generations tend to be worth more as of now, and each cat has a cooldown to restrict how fast it can create a new one to help limit inflation.

Online media site Quartz followed “Kitten number 23” which was first traded for over $4,000 on Dec 2. Two days later it was sold for over $32,000, and reportedly on Dec. 5 it was purchased for $63,000.  

There are over 6,000 “players” buying and selling the electronic felines. Website kittysales.herokuapp.com which tracks many of the major sales has tallied over $7 million in exchanges so far.
 


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