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 it. The market marks GameStop’s expansion from a popular meme stock into a cryptocurrency and Web3 technology company — though it could also spark the ire of gamers vehemently opposed to NFTs.
The new GameStop NFT marketplace is due to launch later this year. It is built on Immutable X, a platform based on the popular Ethereum cryptocurrency blockchain. Designed by Immutable, the company behind the NFT trading card game Gods unleashedImmutable X aims to mitigate Ethereum’s biggest drawbacks: its massive power consumption and high associated “gas costs,” which can add exorbitant processing costs to any transaction. The protocol combines hundreds of thousands of sales records in a single transaction written to the Ethereum blockchain; Unchangeable promises to make up for environmental costs is doing by paying for carbon offsets.
Immutable’s existing partnerships should give the new GameStop initiative a boost as companies already using Immutable X will be able to market their NFTs. Immutable and GameStop are also collaborating to create the developer fund. While Immutable X is used by some non-gaming-focused partners like TikTok, GameStop’s market is set up as a place to buy and sell in-game assets represented as blockchain tokens – GameStop provides the samples of digital real estate, weapons and character skins .
GameStop already showed interest in blockchain technology, advertising a “head of Web3 gaming” and a variety of NFT-based jobs last year. NFTs are often described as a way of proving ownership of in-game items, and they allow players to trade items outside of an approved marketplace, such as an in-game auction house. Some “play-to-earn” games like Axie Infinity also use cryptocurrency and NFTs to run an in-game economy that translates into real money for players. But their perks are sometimes oversold – especially claims that they let players carry items from one game to another, a possibility that is difficult and often undesirable for many other reasons.
While some companies, most notably Ubisoft, have gone ahead with NFT gaming despite criticism, others have plans for NFTs related to games such as STALLER 2 and worms. That was partly due to criticism from players, but also a lack of enthusiasm from developers – who reacted overwhelmingly negatively to the phenomenon in a recent study. But the buy-in launch of blockchain native games could help GameStop evade the backlash that followed publishers and studios delving into NFTs.