24 April 2019
Benny Giang, CryptoKitties' co-founder, hopes to lure more users in the Greater China region following the launch of a mobile version of the game. Photo: Cryptokitties
Benny Giang, CryptoKitties' co-founder, hopes to lure more users in the Greater China region following the launch of a mobile version of the game. Photo: Cryptokitties

CryptoKitties is going mobile with new Chinese cats

After sweeping the global crypto community, CryptoKitties, an online Pokemon-like game built on the ethereum blockchain, is now going mobile, with the business initiative initially focused on the Greater China and Singapore markets.

Benny Giang, the game’s co-founder, told the Hong Kong Economic Journal that his team plans to launch a mobile app for the game in Apple’s App Store in the Greater China region and Singapore before the Lunar New Year, which kicks off Feb. 16.

In order to help boost its popularity, the CryptoKitties app will be named “謎戀貓” in Chinese, which roughly translates as “Crush on cats”.

Besides, Chinese bios will be added for the new “Generation Zero” cats released during the holiday season, Giang said, adding that a unique “Generation Zero” kitten will be named “888″ as the number 8 is considered lucky in Chinese culture.

The CryptoKitties app will include a wallet feature for players to send and receive ether, as it requires players to trade virtual kittens with the digital unit, he said in an interview in Hong Kong.

Given China’s crackdown on crypto trading since last September, Giang said the company will pay close attention to regulations when it launches the mobile app in the country.

“We just have to be more careful with the regulation, that’s one thing we pay close attention to,” he said.

In the CryptoKitties game, players buy and sell virtual cartoon kitties in a marketplace, and breed them with other cats. The game is seeded with an initial 100 “founder kitties”; each specimen can “sire” a new kitten and sell it to other users. There is also one new “Generation Zero” cat released every 15 minutes until 50,000 of them have been issued and sold.

The rare kittens can get much more expensive, and people have been spending a huge amount of real money on the game. According to Crypto Kitty Sales, a third-party site tracking purchases made on the game, more than 210,000 unique kittens have been sold as of Feb. 5.

CryptoKitties is currently available only via its website, and players can have access to the game using the Google Chrome extension MetaMask, which gives a user the ability to send and receive ethereum directly in the browser, and navigate to the CryptoKitties site.

Giang revealed that after arriving in the Greater China region and Singapore, South Korea and Japan could become the next targets for expansion.

In other initiatives, an art exhibition of CryptoKitties will be held in New York this March, and “hopefully we will go to Paris too,” says Giang.

“CryptoKitties is a game, but it also has the component of art and collectible. Collectors will be interested,” he said. “We really see that in a hundred years, CryptoKitties would be like Mona Lisa,” owing to its rarity, Giang added.

With more than 250,000 active players as of now, total transaction amount surpasses US$40 million, according to venture studio AxiomZen. Dozens of kittens were sold in the five-figure range, with the most valuable cat in the game sold for about US$110,707.

In about two months after launch, the game accounted for up to 25 percent of all transactions on the ethereum blockchain network. Its growth in virtual kitten transactions has increased to a point in which it is actually clogging the ethereum network, leading to slower transaction times for all users on the blockchain.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb 5

Translation by Ben Ng with additional reporting

[Chinese version 中文版]

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