Loveable Digital Kittens Are Clogging Ethereum’s Blockchain

Can a crypto app be too easy and fun?

That might be the case on ethereum, where one project is proving so popular it’s putting pressure on the network’s technology. Best thought of as a decentralized Tamagotchi, CryptoKitties appears to be striking a nerve with new users, making ethereum fun and accessible to those who aren’t in the tech nerd domain.

Already, the app, which uses ethereum’s blockchain to create a public, shared history of cryptographically unique (not to mention cute and cuddly) fluffballs, is ethereum’s most popular, with users having spent at least $3 million total on breeding, buying and selling the in-game items, up from $1 million just yesterday. And currently, the average cat is trading for $100 in ether.

But the application is clogging the ethereum network, putting transactions in a long-time limbo.

“Due to network congestion, we are increasing the birthing fee from 0.001 ETH to 0.002 ETH. This will ensure your kittens are born on time!” the CryptoKitties team stated in a tweet surrounded by siren emojis to express the direness of the situation.

In its short lifespan, CryptoKitties has grown to make up 20 percent of all ethereum computations, a number that seems to still be growing.

While it’s certainly not the sole culprit behind ethereum’s lagging transactions, as ethereum developer Nick Johnson pointed out, it is one, and at the very least, it’s where people are placing the blame for exposing ethereum’s limits.

Johnson continued, telling CoinDesk:

“CryptoKitties is definitely a significant contributor to network congestion, and it may have been what pushed us over the edge from mostly-full blocks to full blocks in the last day or so.”

Messy underbelly

The issue is a bit ironic, seeing how ethereum is touted as a world “world computer” that hosts unstoppable decentralized applications, replacing the internet.

With aspirations like that, it might seem strange that one app for trading otherworldly kittens could clog the network, but because of the way blockchains work – with every transaction needing all network nodes to process it – there are limits on the number of computations that can be done all at one time.

Not only does that mean that an insane amount of kitty trading can slow down the network, but it can also add to the expense of using ethereum as well…

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