If you were following crypto news around the height of the 2017 bull run, you almost certainly remember CryptoKitties. The Ethereum-based game allows players to collect, trade, and breed unique digital cats — no two cats are the same — and it struck a nerve. The first test version of the game was unveiled in late October 2017, and by December, a cryptokitty could sell for more than $100,000.
For many, the CryptoKitty craze was emblematic of the excessive enthusiasm that characterized 2017’s bull run. So after crypto prices came back down to earth in 2018, it would have been reasonable to assume that interest in these “digital beanie babies,” disappeared.
But cats have nine lives, and it appears that their digital equivalents have at least two. While the bear market of 2018 killed many altcoins and dApps, CryptoKitties survived. Today — nearly two years after the project first launched — users are still “birthing” an average of more than 1,000 new kitties each day, transferring several thousand kitties each day, and completing hundreds of auctions each day (according to Curious Giraffe data for the past 90 days).
True, kitties aren’t selling for as much as they used to. The average price for a CryptoKitty today is less than $5. But the network is still generating more in transaction volume than similar digital collection games, according to NonFungible. And it’s generating much higher transaction numbers, too — in the past seven days, CryptoKitties had nearly 8x the transactions of the next-closest dApp tracked by NonFungible.
The rarest cats are also still fetching impressive sums, even if they aren’t reaching six figures anymore. This kitty, for example, sold for more than $5,000 in April of this year (probably because it was one of the first 100 cats created in the game). In fact, so far in 2019, nearly 30 kitties have sold for the equivalent of more than $1,000 in Ether (based on the ETH price at the time of sale).
It’s clear that the dApp, unlike most dApps, has managed to carve out a community for itself that can weather the storm of a bull market. CryptoKitties has an active Discord with hundreds of active users at any given time, and over 25,000 total members. It also has a solid subreddit which gets several new posts a day and a Twitter following of almost 30,000.
This is all sustained in part because the developers have kept the project active. There are new cat releases and other events, promotional contests, and the team regularly post cool cats on Instagram and occasionally release videos. In other words, they appear to be working quite actively to sustain user interest. That may be a big part of why the game that many thought of as a “fad” has survived for this long.
There was no way that CryptoKitties could ever sustain the fevered pitch of trading that occurred when it burst into the public consciousness at the same time crypto prices were hitting all-time highs. But despite being dismissed as a fad, it’s clear that even years later, the collectible trading game has carved out a niche of players and is still generating more regular interest than almost all of the — pardon the pun — copycat dApps that have come in its wake.