Blockchain vs Pokemon

POSTED: March 8, 2018

I have noticed recently that the blockchain fad has begun to move out from cryptocurrencies to less obvious areas. I have not followed closely enough to understand whether this constitutes a loss of interest in bitcoin et al, or a widening of interesting that leaves bitcoin as popular as ever.

I first noticed this late last year when I discovered Decentraland had an auction of virtual land and I went to see what this meant exactly. Not only did I learn on their site that “Decentraland is a virtual reality platform powered by the Ethereum blockchain. Users can create, experience, and monetize content and applications”, I also learnt that “Thousands of investors, artists, developers, and community leaders made the Genesis City auction the largest sale of virtual land in history. Next, Decentraland’s Iron Age begins with the blockchain deployment of Genesis City.”

I noticed that 3,047 participants had bought 70,399 parcels of land and “burned” 161,483,050 MANA in the process. I also noticed that, on their timeline, the Iron Age has no specific starting date.

Any auction of “virtual land” that does not yet actually exist raises any number of interesting issues, whether or not it involves Etherium or any other blockchain currency. This note does not attempt to answer any of them. It simply drops some urls onto a webpage to remind me to come back to them later to check how it all pans out.

I decided to make this note once I learned that Pokemon have some potential relevance to all this. I learnt from a post from 2016 by freebird1 that

Estimates show that there are around 10M daily users of Pokemon Go and this seems like plenty for Niantic to launch a new Pokecoin digital currency. Each Pokemon could have it’s own unique blockchain code that cannot be replicated once created. The level of inflation (creation of new Pokemon) could follow an algorithm like the creation of new bitcoin thus ensuring a certain level of scarcity. An algorithm could also be used to determine the rarity of each Pokemon and move sets and stats could be coded as well.

This would drive the potential for collecting, hoarding and trading to go to a completely new level. With property protected by the consensus of the network and miners rewarded with Pokeballs (or such) to validate transactions, the value of the most desirable Pokemon would likely go way higher. This would lead to even more players joining the game with the hopes of hitting the jackpot by finding a valuable rare Pokemon. Exchanges would emerge buying and selling Pokemon, secure “wallets” to store them to avoid theft and even Pokemon savings vehicles. In short the value of the game and franchise would go through the roof!

I then found out that some people have begun putting this kind of idea into practice. I found Cryptopets, Augmentors, and lastly Blockchain Critters, all of which seem to have borrowed liberally from the mechanics of Pokemon and Tamagochi.

At least one of these appears to have a website but no actual creatures (yet?).

Finally I found Tokenized Games, a site that acts as a directory of “new blockchain games” and currently lists more than 150 games in various stages of development.

I shall watch and wait with interest, and return to this later in the year to see how developments have or have not occurred.