GameStop is reportedly planning to build a marketplace for game-related non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to assist with its ongoing financial turnaround.
The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that GameStop is "building an online hub for buying, selling and trading NFTs of virtual videogame goods such as avatar outfits and weapons" with a dedicated unit that includes "more than 20 people" so far.
Gaming companies seem hyped about NFTs. EA CEO Andrew Wilson said that NFTs were "the future of our industry" in November 2021, and Square Enix president Yosuke Matsuda said the company would embrace the technology on January 1.
But it's not clear if that hype is premature. For example, Ubisoft began selling NFTs in early December 2021, and three weeks later, it had only sold 15 tokens. Valve has also banned NFTs and cryptocurrencies from games sold via Steam.
The WSJ reported that GameStop "also is close to signing partnerships with two crypto companies to share technology and co-invest in the development of games that use blockchain and NFT technology, as well as other NFT-related projects."
That would just be the beginning—the report claimed GameStop "expects to enter into similar agreements with a dozen or more crypto companies and invest tens of millions of dollars in them this year." It's not clear if store credit was an option.
The WSJ added that GameStop doesn't want to miss this "budding trend" as it did with digital game downloads in the previous decade, and is entering the crypto and NFT markets while they're still breaking into the mainstream.
It makes sense that the company associated with "the meme stock" would embrace the epitome of meme (epitomeme) cash grabs by entering the NFT market. Which, just as a reminder, mainly involves low-effort JPGs that anyone can download.
Not that GameStop is the only meme stock looking to the crypto market for its financial salvation. AMC recently started to accept cryptocurrency for its payments and partnered with Sony on "Spider-Man: No Way Home" NFTs as well.
It's clear that NFTs are forcing their way into the gaming market whether gamers actually want them or not. It's less clear how well GameStop will be able to compete with game developers and publishers in that regard. However, at least the company is experimenting, rather than relying on the same ol' business model it has for years.