USD 1m Bitcoin Treasure Hunt to Unite Players Worldwide (UPDATED)

A new alternate reality puzzle game has a thousand keys barring the way to USD 1 million in Bitcoin all over the world, prompting players to organize themselves into teams, not unlike the ones in popular young adult book Ready Player One, in order to lay their hands on the prize. (Updated on April 17, 07:18 UTC: section "That was easy" has been updated.)

Source: iStock/BackyardProduction

A cryptic message broadcasted to the Blockstream satellite on April 13th was the challenge for all would-be players to participate in “Satoshi’s Treasure,” described as a contest to “test the resolve, courage, intelligence, and savvy of would-be hunters.”

A total of 1,000 fragments of the private key are hidden around the world, and at least 400 of those are needed to move the funds. Players can team up, organize hunts, and even sell their key fragments - there are almost no rules, and the ones that do exist even come down to common sense.

The rules promise that the keys will not be hidden inside private property, and that Hunters should under no circumstances enter those areas if they have not been invited. They will also not require any destruction of property, and should a Hunter consider destroying a Key to prevent others from finding it, the creator promises to reveal all the keys this Hunter holds to everyone, thus disqualifying them.

A total of 20 people participated in creating the game. One of them is Eric Meltzer, co-founder of venture investment firm Primitive Ventures, who also donated part of the loot. He was joined by Ian Miers, co-creator of privacy coin Zcash, and 18 other unnamed contributors in creating the game - all in order to ensure that none of them know all of the locations of the loot. The rest of the loot was capped off by an anonymous angel investor.

The first clue seems to point towards satellites: “These locations can be discovered by monitoring the output of the primitive orbitals known in your time as GALAXY18, EUTELSAT 113, TELSTAR 11N, and TELSTAR18V at 1PM EST, APRIL 14th in the year 2019,” the clue reads. It goes on to add, “This is not history's first great hunt, nor its last, but it is MINE, and so it is to me that you must prove yourself. I have devised a series of puzzles and challenges of increasing difficulty; they will test even the most resourceful hunter or clan.”

"That was easy"

"The response [to the first clue] has been absolutely overwhelming. People showed up to the 10 spots we indicated around the world where keys would appear en masse—some drove over 3 hours to get to a spot. Others figured out how to brute force the encryption we used and solved the clues without having to travel (something which we hoped would happen, but thought would take weeks—in reality it took 30 minutes..)," Meltzer said in the Proof of Work newsletter.

According to him, people are forming teams, talking strategy, speculating on the value of keys and where the next clues will show up: "Subreddits are being created. Telegram groups are forming. Our poor mongoDB is getting hammered with signups."

Meanwhile, GitHub (a platform for software developers) user John Cantrell revealed how he obtained the first three key shards in a few minutes.

"I was shocked! That was easy," he said at the end of the detailed and technical explanation.

Other clues will be revealed at noon PST (UTC-8) on Sundays and anyone interested in participating is free to sign up for notifications. Meltzer told news publication CoinDesk that they’re also considering an app to help players keep track of everything, but that it will not be required to play. According to him, most of the participants are very young, and a number of them are minors.

Happy hunting!