GameStop plans to launch its own marketplace for non-fungible tokens (or NFTs) and is co-creating an “up to $100 million” fund for game developers using the marketplace. The market will mark GameStop’s expansion from a popular retail-owned influencer company to one that has dabbled in cryptocurrencies and Web3 technology — though it could also spark the ire of gamers who are staunchly opposed to NFTs.
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The new GameStop NFT marketplace should launch later this year. It is built on Immutable X, a platform based on the popular Ethereum cryptocurrency blockchain. Immutable was designed by the company behind the NFT trading card game Gods Unchained, and Immutable X aims to alleviate Ethereum’s biggest drawback: its massive energy consumption and high associated “air fees”, which can add high processing costs to transactions. The protocol consolidates hundreds of thousands of sales records into a single transaction and writes it to the Ethereum blockchain; Immutable promises to cover the environmental costs it does incur by paying carbon offsets.
Immutable’s existing partnership will give GameStop a boost for the new initiative, as companies already using Immutable X will be able to showcase their NFTs in the marketplace. Immutable and GameStop are also working together to raise funds for developers. While Immutable X is used by some non-gaming-focused partners like TikTok, GameStop’s marketplace is considered a place to buy and sell gaming assets represented by blockchain tokens – GameStop offers digital real estate, gaming Cases such as weapon equipment and character skins.
Last year, GameStop had shown its interest in blockchain technology, promoting “Web3 Game Director” and various NFT-based jobs. NFTs are often described as a way to prove ownership of in-game items, and they allow players to trade items outside of recognized marketplaces such as in-game auction houses.
Some “play and earn” games, such as Axie Infinity, also use cryptocurrencies and NFTs to run the in-game economy and convert it into real money for players. But their benefits are sometimes exaggerated — particularly claims that they will let players carry items from one game to another, a possibility that is difficult and often undesirable for a number of reasons.
Although some companies, especially Ubisoft, continue to promote NFT games despite criticism, many game companies have cancelled NFT plans related to games such as “STALKER2” and “Worms” under the backlash. This is happening partly because of criticism from players, but also because of a lack of enthusiasm from developers — who, in a recent survey, had an overwhelmingly negative response to the phenomenon.