It’s been a bad week and change for those still trying to forge a relationship between videogames, NFTs and the crypto world. Despite vocal outcry from developers and fans that don’t want these digital markets anywhere near the gaming sector, there are still a select few that want to force integration via a number of different tactics ranging from laughably lazy to nefarious desperation.
First there was the announcement of the Polium One, a Web3 videogame console that first drew attention for its logo, which totally didn’t look like a flipped and slightly altered Nintendo Gamecube logo. The console drew chuckles for its tech specifications as well, promising both 4K and 8K video, raytracing and Apple’s proprietary fingerprint scan tech Touch ID in a console that was barely larger than its knockoff DualSense controller.
All of those issues were cleaned up a bit in recent days. Polium revealed a new logo that looks like some generic vector art and cleaned up its specs list, including removing mentions of Touch ID. But that clearly isn’t enough to garner faith in the console outside of NFT and crypto devotees who continue to champion the play-to-earn style titles that Web3 gaming promotes.
The major titles Polium touts as draws for the console are Axie Infinity, a game whose internal market crashed earlier this year and is susceptible to theft, and Bored Ape Yacht Club’s Otherside, which hasn’t shared any real details about the game since clogging up the Ethereum blockchain to the tune of $123 million in gas fees.
Things got even more concerning when a Reddit user discovered that the Polium One console and controller concept images bore a heavy resemblance to a failed South Korean console called the Behance Oasis. That, coupled with a laughably vague roadmap and everything else known about the console, send the scam needle flying. It hits max when you realize that the company is planning to offer pre-orders via a, you guessed it, NFT drop, though it claims it won’t open up preorders until it has a prototype built.
The Polium red flags fed into a stealthy anti-NFT in videogames talk presented by Chroma Squad developer Mark Venturelli at Brazil’s International Games Festival. Venturelli switched from his announced “The Future of Game Design” presentation to a slideshow called “Why NFTs are a nightmare” onstage, delving into the predatory practices of the NFT and crypto space among other major concerns about their implementation in games and beyond. The fact that the conference was sponsored by several NFT and blockchain companies who Venturelli said were trying to “buy their relevance, because they have no actual influence over the future of our industry.”
“If you just give them this space uncontested, you’re just giving them exactly what they want, and buying their narrative that they’re relevant,” he told PC Gamer.
Venturelli’s words received added weight when GameStop officially launched its NFT marketplace days after announcing massive layoffs, including key Game Informer staff and the company’s CFO. The shift hedges much of GameStop’s future on its blockchain endeavor despite NFT and crypto markets continuing to crash — the very “bought relevance” referenced by Venturelli.
No matter how much the videogame world keeps telling NFTs and crypto to stay away, people still want to leave the door cracked enough for the exploitation and gas-filled promises from Web3 evangelists to enter. Short-sighted goals and the desire to make a market that is facing mass rejection seem like a good idea are having tangible effects on people, and, much like the NFT space itself, the only people who stand to benefit are those in power, such as GameStop CEO Matt Furlong.
“GameStop of the future has a unique opportunity to anticipate and meet an expanding range of customer demands and merging interest across our stores, web properties and the virtual world,” Furlong said in a staff email.
Some people just want to believe in the nightmare.