If you regularly follow news related to cryptocurrencies and blockchain based technologies you would have definitely come across the term “DApp”. Simply put it stands for Decentralized Application. What differentiates it from a traditional application is being open source and leveraging blockchain principles of having nodes that validate all activities happening on the application. DApp also needs to have a token associated with it which can be one of the existing ones like Bitcoin or Ethereum, it can also have a native token which is created specially for the DApp.
At the time of writing this article there are already more than 3,000 DApps active with a majority of them being built upon Ethereum or EOS. There are more than 100 new DApps getting launched every month but they still face the challenges of mass adoption and giving real value to customers through practical use cases. Just like cryptocurrencies the majority will not be sustainable in the long term and will soon disappear into oblivion.
If I were asked to select the best DApp currently available it will not be an easy task considering the wide number of options so to select the best ones I have considered what practical value they have to offer, is their model sustainable in the long run, are they being managed effectively, what are they offering to add value and convenience to their users.
In my opinion the most successful DApps in the future will be linked to gaming and decentralized exchanges. Gaming is an obvious choice as online gamers were the first set of people who actively started adopting bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as they were already quite familiar with how online currencies work as even before bitcoin was launched most of the popular online games had their own tokens which could be purchased by fiat and used during the game and players were rewarded in the same token. Decentralized exchanges also have a big potential in the near future as looking at current situation most of popular crypto exchanges ask for KYC and can be monitored and regulated by governments so they are not really free from authoritarian control, which is contrary to the basic principles of cryptocurrencies.
Looking at the popular DApps currently available the 2 that caught my attention the most were CryptoKitties and IDEX. CryptoKitties is the most popular gaming DApp and it’s user base is growing each day as they are getting linked to different genres of interactive games. IDEX is a decentralized exchange which seems to have learnt lessons from the shortcomings of BISQ. Where BISQ struggled to gain popularity due to low trading volumes and limited coins available to trade, IDEX has made possible trading of low volume coins and is adding new coins each month.
CRYPTO KITTIES (CK)
CryptoKitties is gaining popularity faster than any other blockchain based gaming app. The main reason is user retention. Once users start playing it they get hooked and keep coming back and new gaming options which are regularly released ensures the engagement level is high. They seemed to have researched which are the most popular games and seemed to have created a fusion combining their best features.
When you play it you feel it has the character development similar to Pokemon, user experience linked to SIMS, character features based on collectible card game like Magic: The Gathering.
Key Strong Points:
- Personalized Gamer Experience- What makes CK unique is that each player breeds his/her own Kitties which grow up with it’s specific set of traits, characteristics and powers. Then the user has the option for using the kitties in different set of games. It can be simple collectible card game which is called KotoWars where you select your champion Kitty and compete with other users online. May the best Kitty win!
- Continuous Improvement- They have been regularly re-inventing themselves and adding more features and gaming interfaces. Best case here is development of KittieFight. Some users requested a more serious gaming experience than the cutie cutie kitty games they had so they decided to develop an add-on game called KittieFight which basically is a Mortal Kombat of Kitties. You select your strongest Kitty and duel to death with opponents. This is currently in Beta and I participated in a test gaming contest through Discord, and I must say those Kitties fight mean. I am really looking forward to formal launch of this game.
- Ethereum + Special Tokens- They started with ETH based system where users invest in ETH to build their Kitties and the rewards were also ETH based. Their future plans include building some native tokens as well which will be integrated. Foe example the new KittieFight game has it’s native KTY token which be having a separate ICO soon in 2020. KotoWars already has it’s native token called WCK.
- Metamask Integration- Game is integrated with Metamask so it is very easy to transfer ETH or the native tokens back and forth from the game to your Metamask wallet
- Promotion + Airdrops- They put special focus on marketing campaigns on all popular social platforms whether it is through bounties, airdrops or article campaign. This ensures the userbase keeps growing
The image below shows how a mortal combat of kitties looks 😊
- Scalability Issues- As the userbase grows they are finding it hard to manage the growing ETH transaction volumes. There have been complaints that when there are a significant number of transactions by the gamers it chokes the entire ETH network
- Access to Children- As the game is crypto based it’s current user base is limited to adults with good understanding of how crypto works. To make sure that even children can easily play this game they will have to simplify the payment options so even a 10 year old can create an account. Who knows maybe in the future even 10 year old will know how crypto works and how to setup Metamask
IDEX is gaining popularity fast as more and more people are getting concerned about KYC on popular exchanges like Coinbase and Binance and would prefer an anonymous platform. Earlier only BISQ gave the possibility of anonymous transactions but it had it’s issues that due to limited trading values it used to take a long time to execute a buy/sell and very few tokens were available to trade. IDEX makes it easy to trade the majority of popular ERC-20 tokens and keeps reviewing and adding new tokens on regular basis.
Key Strong Points:
- Order Flexibility- IDEX gives you the options of limit order and market order. Limit order means you can specify what rate you want to buy or sell eg. I can say I will buy Bitcoin for $7,100 so if it is currently selling for $7,200 the system will wait till falls $7,100 and then execute my order. If I am in a hurry to buy I will place a market order and I will immediately get Bitcoin at current market rate of $7,200.
- ERC-20 Tokens- IDEX makes it possible to trade low volume ERC20 tokens which are not available in most exchanges due to their low trading volumes
- Security- Though they are not 100% safe having a decentralized exchange means it’s much harder to hack than a centralized exchange
- Scalability Issues- Like majority DApps IDEX struggles when the userbase suddenly explodes. They had performance issues recently when a high number of users transacted in parallel. They transactions got very slow and some even got suspended. They are currently putting in patches to avoid a similar situation in future
Final Pick- Now if I have to chose one between CryptoKitties and IDEX it will be tough as they are both doing good in their respective areas, but I personally am more optimistic for CryptoKitties in the future as they have created an addicitive game and their user base is more loyal. Their fans will keep coming back to pet the cute kitties even with so many rival games in the market. IDEX however may struggle when a competing exchange comes into the market which offers lower commission fee as then most users will move over.
So the winner for me in the DApp world is KryptoKitties!!