A while back, GameStop had an entire saga with its stock price literally hitting the moon. There was a lot of public support for GameStop then, and with such a premium stock price the company had a chance to turn things around. Well how have they fared since?
Not great actually. The company still struggles with the same fundamental issues that plagued it for a long time. That hasn’t stopped them from trying anything that comes under the sun, and just recently the company announced plans to create a new marketplace for nonfungible tokens, aka NFTs.
That venture is going as well as one would expect it to, again, not great! Recently the company came under fire for selling a NFT project that had content ripped off from other creators. Nathan Ello, the individual behind the project, released the NiFTy Arcade collection on GameStop’s NFT marketplace. Unlike most NFTs, that are usually just pictures, the NiFTy Arcade collection actually has playable 8-bit games.
Consequently, the project did decently well, netting a total of 8.4 ETH from initial sales, which comes up to be around $13500 at present exchange rates. The only issue; Nathan didn’t hold rights to many games in his NFT pack. That means these games can’t be used for any commercial purposes without the permission of the original creators.
One of the more notable games, Galactic Wars, under a creative commons license, was also included in the NFT pack. The emulation layer used to run the games, PICO-8, was also used without permission. Joseph White, the creators of PICO-8 told ArsTechnica, “PICO-8’s license agreement does not allow use when author permission is not granted,“. Even a few other games like Volcano Bytes, and Worm Nom Nom were also under a Creative Commons asset license, and were used without permission.
NFTs are a Messy Business
This isn’t the first time these type of issues have propped up from a NFT project. The industry has serious troubles with content moderation and approvals, and enough bad faith actors are able to slip in. GameStop also faced public outrage recently over the “Falling Man” NFT, which depicted a man in a space suit, replacing an original picture of someone jumping from the North Tower during the World Trade Center attacks.
The reason proponents have a hard time explaining NFTs, in my opinion, is because NFTs aren’t a singular concept. They’re a bundle of related concepts. NFTs are a cluster of superficially similar but functionally heterogeneous entities, in much the same way that “cryptoasset” or “blockchain” are too semantically diffuse to be considered a single taxonomic element.
And this is exactly why NFTs are so hard to monitor for any platform. Even with more stringent checks, it’s only a matter of time before GameStop has to deal with something like this again.
As for the NiFTy Arcade collection, that has now been pulled from GameStop NFT platform. The creator Nathan Ello, claimed that he was unaware of the license status of the games, and has since offered to share remuneration with the original developers.