CryptoKitties — a sort of online Tamagotchi breeding game built on top of Ethereum, is now the most used contract on the Ethereum network, making up about 12 percent of the network’s transactions and climbing. And now, its popularity is clogging up the network.
CryptoKitties Is a Gas Guzzler
The game’s object is to breed valuable kittens and list/sell them on the Cryptokitty exchange, each action contributing to the gas limit of each block. If participation in the Cryptokitty system continues to increase, it could potentially grind the Ethereum network to a halt as blocks fill up and the number of unconfirmed transactions rise.
This won’t be the first time the throughput of Ethereum’s network has been seriously tested: The Status ICO launch and several other events have pushed the network to the limit, and caused transaction delays lasting hours and even days. However, no previous stress event on the Ethereum network has held sustained activity and growth.
CryptoKitties is designed to encourage many small transactions (the devs monetized by charging an additional 3.75 percent off the top of each tx) and only seems to keep growing since the launch on the 28th of November.
Since the game’s launch, blocks became 100 percent full, and the pool of pending transactions is already in the range of 16-17,000 and steadily climbing. If this game has any staying power with crypto-nerds, then it could choke Ethereum completely, forcing users to set higher gas prices or miners to settle on another massive increase in the default gas limit.
Note that the gas limit has already more than doubled since the start of the ICO craze.
In fact, CryptoKitties’ developers have already acknowledged the increased stress it has created on the network, tweeting:
🔥🔥🔥 DUE TO CONGESTION ON THE NETWORK WE ARE INCREASING THE BIRTHING FEE FROM 0.002 ETH –> 0.015 ETH. WE HOPE THIS WILL ALLOW MORE KITTENS TO BE BORN ON TIME AS THERE HAVE BEEN SIGNIFICANT DELAYS 🔥🔥🔥
— CryptoKitties (@CryptoKitties) December 4, 2017
The gravity of CryptoKitties’ transaction overhead really comes into focus when you realize it’s a breeding game — every transaction makes more kitties, which in turn incentivizes more transactions.
Given that at peak real throughput the Ethereum network can only muster around 663,000 transactions a day (or about 7.6 tx/second, roughly the same maximum throughput as bitcoin with SegWit adoption) a rousing success for CryptoKitties could be disastrous for Ethereum.
Will little kitties kill Ethereum? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Images courtesy Etherscan, CryptoKitties