CryptoKitties Leaps Into the Mainstream with $12 Million Raise

A well-known cryptocurrency game has become so popular it is raising new funds and splitting off on its own.

CryptoKitties has announced a $12 million Series A, led by some of the biggest names in venture capital, including Andreessen Horowitz and Union Square Ventures. Those two have previously invested in Facebook, Twitter and Coinbase. A host of other investors joined the round, such as AngelList founder Naval Ravikant, Zynga founder Mark Pincus, Canadian fund Version One, and nine other angel investors and seed funds.

“We envision a world of play, one without limits,” the company wrote in a blog post. “Where ownership is real, and the things you create and discover, you can keep forever. Where games can be entire economies, unlocking mutual incentives for players and builders to extend the gaming experience. Where the world is built by everyone who chooses to be a part of it — especially you.”

The new money will be used to drastically expand the team and scale the technology to make it accessible to millions, if not billions of players. Dapper Labs, the creators of CryptoKitties and a team within Axiom Zen, will retain at least 20 employees as it begins to focus on its own work and move away from Axiom Zen.

CryptoKitties is being spun off from its founding company, Axiom Zen, a Vancouver-based innovation studio that houses several individual teams that create their own products or services for other businesses.

The goal of CryptoKitties is to make blockchain and cryptocurrency more accessible for newcomers to the space. It can often be overwhelming trying to buy off exchanges, deal with security information and transfer funds, so the game is an easy way to get into owning cryptocurrency and understanding a distributed blockchain.

In the game, players buy, sell, trade and breed cats. Each one is unique and cannot be replicated, so some of the original cats from the game’s early launch have been sold for over six figures.

In fact, during the early launch in late 2017, CryptoKitties came close to crashing the ethereum network, which is the cryptocurrency of choice for the smart-contract powered game. It commanded a whopping 11 per cent of every contract on the network which vastly slowed down other operations. It has since cooled down, but it showed the true power of a blockchain and cryptocurrency hit.

The game very recently entered China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, breaking into markets where cryptocurrency is often under high scrutiny. That is another positive for the game, as it can represent cryptocurrency well without needing strict regulation.

CryptoKitties is an interesting concept as it demonstrates the ability to create unique digital items that someone online can “own” without fear of piracy or imitation. Normally, once artwork or imagery something is published to the web, it’s almost impossible to keep it original and know who uploaded it first. CryptoKitties comes with a unique tag that is entered into the blockchain, so any inquirer can see who owns it and when it as created. As more and more creators turn to the web and look for ways to keep their art native, CryptoKitties’ model may be looked to for inspiration.