On November 28, game developer Axiom Zen released a game called CryptoKitties, where players buy, sell, and mate cartoon cats with the cryptocurrency ether. By Monday, the game was so popular it accounted for 14 percent of all transactions on the Ethereum blockchain. And by Tuesday, players had spent $5 million on about 32,000 cats.
It might seem like a silly fad — fake cats sold with fake money — but CryptoKitties shows how blockchain can be used for much more than just trading cryptocurrency. It can make unique digital collectables, sort of like a limited edition action figure or porcelain figurine, but made of code. And CryptoKitties exist independently of Axiom Zen, which means that even if the company dies, the cats live on, forever.
This segment originally Dec. 5, 2017, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.