Hidden in Pokémon Go clone, Tencent’s plan to bring blockchain to the masses?
A behemoth bestrides crypto gaming: As seen in a screenshot from Tencent’s ‘Let’s Hunt Monsters,’ an AR feature allows users to snap photos of their characters in the real world. (Image credit: Serenitie Wang)
After several failures of wanna-be Pokémon Go-likes in mainland China, Tencent’s new mobile game “Let’s Hunt Monsters” is a hit: it immediately climbed to the top of the free game chart in the Chinese Apple store after being released in mid April. A month later, it’s still at number six.
What Tencent didn’t promote and few have noticed is the company’s first experiment with blockchain gaming. Hidden inside its Pokémon Go clone is a clone of CryptoKitties, which encourages players to trade virtual cats on Tencent’s blockchain and endows the cats with actual market value using the game’s strong social media features.
This might ultimately test the boundaries of Chinese regulation, which adamantly prohibit crypto trading. Some also criticize the game for not being as “decentralized” as a blockchain game should be and questioned Tencent’s disruption of the market as an outclass player. But Tencent’s first move into a mainstream blockchain product deserves more attention.
At first, I didn’t see what Tencent was up to. For around a week, I wandered around Beijing, playing Pokémon Go with Chinese sacred animals. But then I got to level 22 and they gave me my first cat. Now I’m running a virtual kitten mill off my cell phone: I’ve got a collection of 109 cats, two of whom are breeding.