If you're an independent developer with plans to release a game on indie game marketplace Itch.io, save yourself some time and don't plan for NFT integration. The Itch team has come out swinging on non-fungible tokens, letting its community know that this burgeoning blockchain segment has no place on its popular platform.
In a Twitter thread, Itch shut down NFTs, calling the digital phenomenon “a scam.” It's a bit ironic considering that Itch is known for rolling out the welcome mat for gaming developers with an open revenue-sharing model. Itch is not alone. Wealth of Geeks recently reported on Team17, a UK-based indie game publisher whose NFT plans went up in smoke amid community backlash.
As for Itch, they accuse NFTs of having zero use cases, except the “exploitation of creators, financial scams, and the destruction of the planet” due to the energy-intensive process of minting one on the blockchain. However, Itch paints NFTs with a broad brush, accusing any company that claims to support creators and “endorses NFTs in any way” as basically a liar. Instead, the indie game platform alleges that these companies are in it themselves.
A few have asked about our stance on NFTs:
NFTs are a scam. If you think they are legitimately useful for anything other than the exploitation of creators, financial scams, and the destruction of the planet the we ask that please reevaluate your life choices.
— itch.io (@itchio) February 6, 2022
It's no secret that NFTs have been a money grab. Creators, including tweens and teens, are becoming millionaires seemingly overnight as their savvy digital sensations resonate with the crypto community. Major companies and professional sports leagues are jumping in to avoid being left out of the metaverse, where NFTs are at the center of this virtual world. In 2021, $25 billion in NFT sales changed hands. For Itch, therein lies the problem.
Founded by Leaf Corcoran in 2023, Itch.io is a popular indie game platform downloaded millions of times. In a separate Twitter thread, Corcoran has also weighed in on the matter personally. He describes NFT enablers as “willfully ignorant people who are trying to push an exploitative technology.” Corcoran's thread has received support from his followers, one of whom says they'll continue to publish games on Itch because of its anti-NFT stance.
If you're ever feeling burnt out writing legitimate replies to willfully ignorant people who are trying to push a exploitative technology feel free to just drop a link to this tweet:https://t.co/WKc3mbyPfu
— leaf @ itch.io 🙌 (@moonscript) February 6, 2022
Gamers on NFTs
More broadly, the gaming community is divided on where they stand as a group on NFTs. On one side of the spectrum, NFTs are the enemy and only exist for two reasons: speculation and to ruin the planet.
Let's take speculation first. Early movers have scored big by timing the NFT craze just right. For example, a CryptoPunk NFT called Covid Alien sold for over $11 million on the Sotheby's auction platform last year. It's not surprising that speculators have flooded the market searching for the next big NFT flip.
On energy consumption, NFTs are minted on the blockchain, which requires electricity to do. There are many examples, one of which suggests that the power involved in minting an NFT rivals running a refrigerator for 30 days. Ethereum, the most popular blockchain for NFTs, is in the process of adopting a new model for securing the network that will shrink its carbon footprint. In the meantime, other popular NFT blockchains like Solana and Avalanche have adopted a more eco-friendly approach from the start and use that feature as a key selling point.
Moments ago in our #London saleroom, an extremely rare “Alien” CryptoPunk #7523 from the collection of @sillytuna sold for $11.8M as part of our #NativelyDigital NFT auction – setting a new world auction record for a single CryptoPunk. pic.twitter.com/PDVUSttI3o
— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) June 10, 2021
On the flip side, NFTs have attracted true artists who have seized the opportunity to share their creations with the world in a tech-savvy way and generate income. Projects and companies, including the gaming sector, are incorporating NFTs to help build out the metaverse.
Traditional video game company Ubisoft has been a first-mover, but it hasn't been all smooth sailing. Ubisoft's involvement has sparked the NFT debate in the gaming community. Ubisoft executives are not shocked that some gamers have responded negatively. Instead, they maintain that it will take video gamers time to fully understand the benefits of NFTs, not least of which includes selling their digital assets in the secondary market for a potential profit when they're done using them.
In gaming, it's not unusual for companies to ink partnerships. Last year, Itch and the Epic Games Store teamed up to provide a “store within a store.” For its part, Epic Games has embraced NFTs even though crypto won't be making an appearance in Fortnite anytime soon. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see if this difference of opinion gets between them.
As a technology, the blockchain is just a distributed transactional database with a decentralized business model that incentivize investment in hardware to expand the database's capacity. This has utility whether or not a particular use of it succeeds or fails.
— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) October 15, 2021
Meanwhile, Itch's Corcoran has also dabbled in writing music, another category in which NFTs are booming. Chances are his songs won't be available as NFTs anytime soon, either.
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