Drug Dealing and Shrimp Breeding: 4chan DApp Games Invade Ethereum Blockchain

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4chan users have created DApps on the Ethereum blockchain accounting for tens of thousands of transactions in the last few days as users sell virtual cocaine and breed shrimp eggs to sell on the blockchain.

The game Ether Cartel, listed as number one on the new category list on DappRadar, saw a volume of over 33 ETH moved over the last week and 2,500 Ethereum transactions in the last 24 hours.

“Ether Cartel is an idle game on the blockchain based on “Ether Shrimp Farm”. The more kilos you have, the more drugs they produce (each kilo produces at a rate of 1 per day). Collect more kilos with your drugs to multiply your production, or cash them out for Ethereum!”

The game operates through Metamask and includes a disclaimer stating that the site is for fun and does not endorse illegal activity in the real world. Ether Shrimp Farm has a similar model in which users hatch shrimp on the blockchain to eggs which can be cashed out for 0.01 Ether per egg or used to produce more shrimp.

A number of similar games have spawned recently in which users farm shrooms, breed snails, or create Pepe memes popularised by the 4chan forums, and have accounted for approximately 30,000 transactions in 24 hours.

4chan appears to be the source of the games, with one user commenting:

“Are these eth ponzi games not the most pure form of business possible? Business model followed with logical perfection, virtual money generating machines set up and forgettable possibly able to be used by anyone for the foreseeable future long after youre dead. No real cost. No teams needed, no people needed.”

The ponzi remark refers to the model used by many of the games in which users earn 20% of the profits of anyone they introduce to the game through a referral link.

While the meme-based games are intended as a joke as well as a way to generate earnings for their creators, the phenomenon has rekindled debate surrounding the issue of scalability on the Ethereum blockchain. While it’s possible to create a second layer on any DApp to handle many of the process off-chain, these games use a basic model in which all transactions are handled on-chain.

The games are reminiscent of the CryptoKitties game which allows users to create virtual cats on the Ethereum blockchain and was attributed to significantly slowing down the blockchain for a period as users and bots alike traded cats for prices reaching hundreds of thousands of dollars in some cases. NBA star Step Curry recently signed a deal to launch his own line of CryptoKitties fashioned in his likeness, indicating that the trend is far from over.

The recently-created 4chan games once again bring Ethereum’s scalability issue to the surface, with one Reddit user remarking:

“If the 2nd largest cryptocurrency CAN be destroyed by cryptokitties and shrimp farms then it isn’t ready for prime time and we have a long way to go before mass adoption. These games may seem stupid, but they serve as valuable stress tests for the ecosystem as a whole, and show where the weak points lie.”

Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin announced recently that Sharding is currently in development, a method of scaling the Ethereum blockchain to allow for higher volume of transactions and smoother blockchain transaction processing overall.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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POSTED IN: Ethereum News, News
Conor is a cryptocurrency journalist and an ICO writing consultant at The Written Craft content service. He's an advocate of decentralized public control of finance, an off-grid enthusiast, and really fun at parties too. Follow him on Twitter @iWriteCrypto to hear him roar.