Like you have apps on your smartphone – WhatsApp, Facebook, and so on – blockchain enthusiast are creating apps for decentralised systems.
Decentralised applications (called dApps) run on the Ethereum blockchain as collections of “smart contracts” – autonomous transactions which are controlled by their own custom code.
The first dApp to court mainstream attention was CryptoKitties, a game which saw players purchasing, breeding, and trading digital cats using cryptocurrency.
CryptoKitties saw massive success, and this started a flurry of activity in the world of dApp development.
Decentralised applications are run by every node on the Ethereum blockchain and cannot be censored or controlled by centralised parties.
This makes smart contracts useful for applications such as loans and asset transferral.
CryptoKitties and the games which have followed it leverage the immutability of the Ethereum blockchain by instantiating their assets as non-fungible tokens.
Each token is different and has its own set of attributes, from which it derives its value.
It is important to note that when you receive a CryptoKitty by purchasing it from an Ethereum wallet, a token is actually sent to your wallet and cannot be manipulated by anyone else.
Even if the CryptoKitties website was destroyed and the company dissolved, you would still hold a CryptoKitty token in your wallet.
Contracts built on the Ethereum blockchain are also visible to everyone and can only be adapted if permissions are published in the contract’s initial code.
This allows users to audit the code behind any decentralised application they use and decide whether to trust the service.
What is Etherbots?
While the development of dApps is still in its infancy – and limited by the scaling obstacles of the Ethereum blockchain – developers have continued to build new products, motivated by the success of projects like CryptoKitties.
Etherbots is an example, which expands on the CryptoKitties concept by adding new gameplay elements such as fighting, loot boxes, and item customisation.
The game sees players purchasing and trading robotic parts with different attributes, which they can use to construct their own robot.
These robots can then be pitted against each other in battle, with the winner receiving rare items and experience.
The application fleshes out a lot more features than CryptoKitties while retaining the game’s degree of decentralisation and value proposition.
Like CryptoKitties, Etherbots are represented on the Ethereum blockchain as non-fungible tokens.
Unlike CryptoKitties, however, Etherbots offers players a more active gameplay style, allowing them to swap weapons and parts before battling other players based on random outcomes weighted by robot attributes.
Ethereum’s list of decentralised applications is growing daily, while many existing applications are constantly adding new features.
Despite the increasing number of cutting-edge applications, though, mainstream adoption of dApps is still far away.
There are many challenges to be overcome first, including improved blockchain scaling, better interfaces, and the implementation of new technologies like decentralised storage.
A major barrier to entry for decentralised apps is the obscure interfaces currently required to interact with them.
While apps like MetaMask make it easier to interact with Ethereum dApps from your browser, these are still relatively confusing to the average person – and the concept of a private-public key pair is still alien to many Internet users.
However, as interest and investment in dApps and distributed ledger technology continues to grow, more people will become involved and more accessible interfaces should be developed.