Are blockchain games the future of gaming? Dr LIU Xiaofan from CityU’s Department of Media and Communication recently published an article titled CryptoKitties Transaction Network Analysis: The Rise and Fall of the First Blockchain Game Mania in Frontiers in Physics, giving his answers to this question. This is the first article in academia to analyse the entire blockchain transaction history of CryptoKitties, the first blockchain game to gain the general public’s attention.
CryptoKitties went online in late November 2017 and attracted tens of thousands of players in just one month. Users can buy, breed and trade kittens (the game props) with other users. The kittens are represented by what are now called Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) on the Ethereum blockchain.
The game first gained public attention when the kitten with index number “0” was traded for more than US$10,000. New players poured in as media reported this surprisingly high-value transaction, hinting at the opportunity for speculation in this blockchain game.
However, many players quickly lost interest over the next month, when the number of daily active users (DAU) decreased to merely hundreds by January 2018. Liu’s team found that the decrease of DAU happened exactly at the point that average kitten trades yielded a negative profit in the game. This finding revealed that CryptoKitties, although the most sophisticated blockchain game at the time, is arguably just a playground for speculation.
The NFT and Metaverse concepts, started with a handful of digital artworks (also represented by blockchain tokens) that changed hands for millions of US dollars, have been globally trending since early 2021. Liu believes that if the NFT market is to avoid becoming another CryptoKitties game, the market makers must find a way to “keep the music playing”. That is, to keep average users happy in this market.