As we enter February, it’s almost time for the Chinese New Year. Perhaps in homage to the upcoming Year of the Dog, Chinese software giant Baidu has launched a blockchain-powered crypto pets service, similar to the CryptoKitties craze that almost broke the Ethereum blockchain a couple of months ago.
With CryptoKitties, users could use Ethereum tokens (Ethers) to trade and raise digital kittens. In the case of Baidu’s offering, called “Leci Gou” (pronounced as “Let’s Go”) users can adopt and trade digital puppies, and the transactions will be recorded on a blockchain. It is still unclear if Baidu intends to use a public cryptocurrency/blockchain network to power the marketplace or its own internal one.
Upon registering on the website, users will be able to adopt one digital dog for free and get complimentary 1,000 points which they can use to trade and adopt more virtual canines. Unlike CryptoKitties, which was built on the Ethereum blockchain and used Ethers as currency, it appears that Leci Gou will use points as currency – users will be able to earn points through using applications such as Baidu wallet. In a statement, Baidu said, “The points can only be used to purchase Baidu’s digital dogs and have no other functions.”
The service is still undergoing internal testing, according to Baidu, and is scheduled for a public launch in the future. This comes as Axiom Zen, the Canadian company behind CryptoKitties, revealed that it has plans to launch a mobile version of the app for iOS users in the Greater China region in time for the Chinese New Year. Axiom Zen Co-founder Benny Giang said, “We have special kitties for Chinese New Year...We are going to translate the game in traditional and simplified Chinese. The cats will have special bios in Chinese.”
At its peak, CryptoKitties accounted for over 10 percent of all transactions on the Ethereum network. Given Baidu’s growing interest in blockchain – the company joined the Linux Foundation-led Hyperledger blockchain consortium in 2017, and in January, launched its own blockchain-as-a-service platform for conducting and tracing transactions in various applications including financial auditing and insurance management – it will be interesting to see how Leci Gou develops in the future.