In the “real world”, horse racing is an exclusive sport. It requires access to a stable, time and effort to train one of these animals and, most importantly, considerable financial resources. But in the digital world, many times, life is simplified. How Deep is Your Love is an example of this. This animal does not eat or sleep, and cannot be ridden or patted. This is a digital racehorse, the latest in a series of bizarre virtual follies that seem to wield the potential for wealth for the common man.
Yes. Digital horse racing has become the latest talk of crypto fans. What can go wrong?
ZED RUN. It is the platform where everything takes place. It describes itself as “a digital (and fair) horse racing game based on blockchain technology.” In this strange utopia, it is possible to trade horses, compete with them to win prize money, and breed them to create new ones. Although the game is taking off, there are already more than 15,000 stable owners, and some horses are selling for 125,000 euros. And yes, comedy duo Hamish and Andy, rapper Ja Rule, and boxer Mike Tyson are among those who have a stable.
How does it work? At Zed Run, several such events take place every hour, seven days a week. Owners pay modest entry fees, usually between € 2 and € 15, to pit their steeds against each other for a sweet tooth. The race, which takes place on a dark and futuristic race track somewhere in the metaverse, unfolds in different stages for everyone who wants to dare to watch. Horses are actually NFTs, or “Non-Fungible Tokens”, which means that they exist only as digital assets.
But unlike the vast majority of NFTs — GIFs, images, and videos — that can be kept as collectibles or sold for profit, each digital horse constitutes what the creators call a “breathable NFT.” What’s that? “He who has his own unique DNA,” explained the director of Virtually Human, the study that created Zed Run. “He can reproduce, has a lineage, has a life of his own. He runs, he has genes that he transmits and lives in an algorithm, so that no two horses are alike. “
A whole market going. Users, most of them crypto enthusiasts, have gone mad to acquire digital horses. Some of them have obtained sums higher than what live steeds are worth. One player sold a stable full of digital horses for 250,000 euros. So far, more than 11,000 digital horses have been sold on the platform. What the company is promoting is the fact that you buy and sell NFTs, and that’s how you make money. With Zed, you can earn money from your NFT by competing or playing.
And then there is the purchase of horses. A whole multicolored journey. There is much more to consider when buying your first digital horse than when buying your first home. Can you afford the exclusive Nakamoto race or just the ordinary Buterin? And as for the color, do you go for Celestial Blue? Or maybe a nice Atomic Tangerine shade?
Ready Set… Each race is limited to 12 horses, whose lineups are based on the qualities and past performance of each horse. The site uses an algorithm that runs 10,000 random results and chooses one as a race condition. There are people who are becoming mini influencers in this ecosystem. Yair Altmark, a venture capitalist in New York has spent more than 300,000 euros on digital horses. And this world is growing more and more on the platforms of Twitch or Discord, where many of the races are broadcast.
The real impact. While it is true that, since they are not physical animals, there is no abuse, the carbon footprint of NFTs is also a matter of serious concern. Buying a horse sometimes requires a series of impressively secure but energy-consuming transactions on the Ethereum blockchain. Multiply that by the tens of thousands of horses that are currently in ZED RUN.
To future. Fans of this world often talk about the “metaverse”, a shared space where physical and virtual reality meet. “My view is that Zed Run will be the first digital sport in the metaverse,” Austin Greenfeld, an investor in this technology, noted in this New York Times report. “People are going to support him. There are horses that are already famous in the ecosystem. It is global, there are no language barriers, and it operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You need the best of cryptocurrencies, NFTs, esports, and streaming. “
If we look at the latest figures, the NFTs have fallen in recent months. Even if this system were no longer in fashion, everything that is happening is still a collage of what people like (technology, cryptocurrencies, internet) with something purely traditional. This phrase from a user sums it up: “I would never have seen a real horse race on YouTube before, but now I have seen five for the idea of familiarizing myself with how this technology works.”