Categories: Ethereum

Keeping Ethereum’s Promise: CryptoKitties Is Embracing Open-Source

Click here to view original web page at

Call it an explosion of cute names for a cause.

Announced this week, CryptoKitties debuted a number of new initiatives that will further decentralize its popular ethereum app, which while largely passing under the radar, show the startup is making strides to give users rights. It's been the subject of criticism for the beloved game, which raised $12 million in March with the expectation it would loosen controls on its code in line with the larger crypto ethos.

Among a slew of updates, CryptoKitties is open-sourcing its API and smart contracts for gameplay in the KittyVerse – a virtual world of experiences including catfights, racing and accessories – through a developer toolkit. Plus, it's updated its user agreements to be more lenient and introduced a players' rights contract called the Nifty License.

"CryptoKitties ... was always criticized for not being completely decentralized," Afri Schoedon, communications officer at the ethereum startup Parity, explained. "I think CryptoKitties is doing a good job on finding the perfect path between decentralization and usability."

He continued: The more you try to decentralize things, the more complicated it will be to actually use it."

And CryptoKitties isn't just improving for end-users, but also for developers.

Take players like Candi Johnson, who have donated their time to build gameplay features like more complex battle options. Observers pointed out that CryptoKitties' old terms of service stipulated the team owned all graphics and elements of the app, but the Nifty License gives Johnson, and other cat owners, the legal rights to the intellectual property of each tabby.

As CryptoKitties fan Todd Goldberg tweeted: "I have the right to delete my account and still take the asset with me. If this was a centralized game and I wanted to delete my account, I'd lose the asset."

A traditional, centralized gaming studio might balk at the idea of letting users take their digital assets off the platform.

To the contrary, CryptoKitties co-founder Bryce Bladon said that diverse experiences with the items increase the whole ecosystem's value, plus, people looking to build alternative versions of CryptoKitties now don't ever need to worry about being sued.

Blandon told CoinDesk:

"It's as much about removing ourselves as any form of a central authority as it is about doing so in a way that doesn't compromise the value of this game, of this product, and of this platform as a whole."

Looking ahead, CryptoKitties plans to build on this progress by looking into decentralized data storage solutions like Filecoin and the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS), Blandon said.

Stakeholder rights

Crypto collectibles are valuable only as long as they are unique or rare – so balancing owners' rights with some limitation on how these tokens are reproduced will be crucial to this ecosystem's success.

Bladon said he hopes the Nifty License can set an example for other non-fungible tokens, a broader class of crypto assets of which CryptoKitties is the most well-known, establishing a norm where the asset belongs to the user and not the platform.

"That is why we have loosened up our terms of service. That is why we put this license out there," he said.

However, the Nifty License still appears to stipulate that owners can't apply the cat's image for commercial use – like a company logo – or sell it on a marketplace that doesn't verify ownership, such as Craigslist.

Limitations aside, Parity's Schoedon sees the Nifty License as a step in the right direction.

"It would be good to just get away from this second-layer licensing issue by just saying 'whoever owns that token owns the attached art,'" he said, referencing how commercial use and distribution clauses can get tricky.

Fortunately for gamers, the CryptoKitties team sees the Nifty License as a work in progress.

Looking ahead, the virtual playground will no longer be maintained solely by the startup. Case in point, Johnson's work on new CryptoKitties' experiences is not as a part of another open-source project or separate IP; instead, it's just for the love of the game.

"The goal is to add value to the community and the kitties by giving them additional functionality. They're super cute as collectibles, and being able to play with them is fun," Johnson told CoinDesk.

Speaking to why making the application easier to use for developers will be beneficial to end users, Blandon said:

"There is no more one-size-fits-all gameplay experience."

Sustainable funding

Yet another initiative CryptoKitties announced this week is the Nifty Kitty Program, which gives opportunities for independent developer teams to apply for loans or grants to fund work for the community.

"We are trying to build sustainable revenue options for people outside of the core CryptoKitties team," Bladon said.

These days, the startup's main source of revenue is charging 3.7 percent on all transactions done through, such as buying a new kitty.

However, since the ethereum smart contract is now open-source, other parties could theoretically give birth to new pets without that tax. Bladon said users with the skills to utilize the smart contract themselves are welcome to experiment.

"The hash code would correlate to the cat's art and they would own it. It would be a legitimate CryptoKitty," Bladon said. "I'm certain there is immense potential and a strong possibility for new and interesting ways for CryptoKitties to be made."

The team has already selected a few external projects to receive loans or grants through the Nifty Kitty Program. Whatever those teams make won't be owned or managed by the original startup. This initiative aims to boost outside participation in building a cat-tastic ecosystem.

For Johnson, CryptoKitties was her first introduction to blockchain technology and she enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about it with a group of players who call themselves the KittyBattles team. Regardless of whether this team ever seeks monetary rewards for their creation, other developer teams might want that option.

The Nifty Kitty Program could be aligned with CryptoKitties' interest in decentralizing its processes. In the future, if CryptoKitties relinquishes control of the platform, the game would still need a vibrant developer community to continue iterating on the game to make it fun for users.

Speaking to this point, Bladon said:

"Once a core concept is proven, developers can build on top of it. Players can sort of invest in the idea. Players and developers alike are elevated to stakeholders in it."

Pink CryptoKitties image via CryptoKitties Medium

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

Announced this week, CryptoKitties debuted a number of new initiatives that will further decentralize its popular ethereum app, which while […]


Illuminati, Mason, Anonymous I'll never tell. I can tell you this, global power is shifting and those who have the new intelligence are working to acquire this new force. You matter naught except to yourself, therefore prepare for the least expected and make your place in the new world order.

Disqus Comments Loading...
Published by

Recent Posts

Opinion: We Want Bitcoin Results, Not Predictions

Is it safe to say that people are tired of talking about bitcoin? While not necessarily bored by it, they… Read More

5 hours ago

THE BLOCKCHAIN IN ADVERTISING REPORT: Blockchain’s potential to reduce ad fraud and how marketers can get ready

This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence . To learn more about Business Insider Intelligence,… Read More

5 hours ago

Blockchain Technology Market 2019 Emerging Technology Research Report by Key Players- Microsoft ,Samsung, IBM, Deloitte,BTL Group, Linux Foundation

New York, NY 16 Sep 2019: – According to a new study published by Polaris Market Research the global blockchain… Read More

5 hours ago

Blockchain to transform most industries in 5-10 years

(Image: Stockfresh) Pro 16 September 2019 | 0Research firm Gartner, whose past evaluations of blockchain have been conservative to say… Read More

5 hours ago

Bitcoin was Facebook’s first choice says Abra’s CEO

Bill Barhydt, CEO of Bitcoin investment platform Abra , claims that Facebook staffers told him the company wanted to use… Read More

5 hours ago

Is This The Biggest Threat To Bitcoin, Crypto, And Facebook’s Libra?

Bitcoin and crypto investors were put on notice this week when French and German government officials backed European Central Bank… Read More

5 hours ago

This website uses cookies. We use these cookies to collect data about your interaction with our website for the purpose of continuously improving your experience with our site. For more information we encourage you to read our privacy policy.

Read More