The unofficial Minecraft-inspired NFT game "Blockverse" appears to have become one of the latest scams (opens in new tab) in the crypto world. At launch, and in a mere eight-hour period, Blockverse raised more than $1 Million from a community of users through the sale of 10,000 NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) priced at 0.05 ETH (~$127) each. Little did the users know that they'll lose their funds soon after in a rug pull - a sadly classic cryptoverse move.
Rug pulls (the term coined for when blockchain-based projects disappear with users' funds) are a constant of the daily blockchain life - in 2021, around 3,300 projects pulled rugs on their users, stealing approximately $7 billion worth of investor's money. Rug pulls work in much the same way that snake-oil sellers did back in the day: promising a product but not delivering it; cue the charlatan running away with his clichéd dollar-marked bag of money. Blockverse seemingly carried this out a mere two days later. The project deleted its digital footprint - website (opens in new tab), Discord server, and game server all disappeared, and so did the only connection from users to their investment - their access-granting NFTs rendered worthless.
The possession of one of these 10,000 NFTs would give the limited player pool of users access to the game upon its launch. Being a digital token, these NFTs are also inherently tradeable, meaning that single accounts could hold more than one of these "access slips." Blockverse pulled off a significant pre-order event if it were a legitimate project, selling the equivalent of 10,000 licenses. Users paid $127 for a digital pre-order game. But a digital trail may have forced Blockverse to come back - partially.
The game's community members managed to track down a Coinbase address linked with the Blockverse founders. This address had funded most of the efforts with establishing the Blockverse; alongside it was a Cloudflare IP. So it would certainly be enough for law enforcement (or someone with less stellar intentions) to arrive at the founders' identities.
Three days after closing all of Blockverse's digital presence, and with the paper trail leads already disseminated through the community, its founders took to Twitter to explain the events from the following previous days. First, they claimed the project's legitimacy and explained that the reason for the flight was nothing more than an attempt at protecting their safety. But, according to them, several overwhelming and concerning complaints regarding some of the Blockverse's elements - gas fee prices for the NFT acquisition, lack of player capacity at 10,000 users, and lack of utility in the $DIAMOND tokens that only served as an access license.
"The FUD [fear, uncertainty, and doubt] quickly descended into harassment, threats, and doxxing," the creators wrote on Twitter. "The team noticed all this and panicked, deleting the discord server on impulse. Everything else was closed to prevent the continuation of harassment that had occurred so far. Even then, the plan was to reopen once everyone had time to calm down."
A statement from the Blockverse TeamRead: https://t.co/5v5nn5bqrKJanuary 28, 2022
"There is absolutely no reason for us to leave permanently, as all the technical work and infrastructure for the project thus far has already been put in place. It was more work to take things down than to leave it up, but again, everything was done in the interest of protecting personal safety."
Despite this relative show of face (the project website is still down, for example), investors appear to be on the edge regarding the legitimacy and intentions of the project's founders. However, many have lost confidence in the project's founders. As a result, a group of community members is now negotiating that the original Blockverse developers cede control of the project. Interestingly, Blockverse's founders have sat at this bargaining table and agreed to hand over all relevant contracts and code while keeping the 500 ETH raised by the initial token sale - essentially paying themselves around $1 million for the initial development work. Blockverse has also apparently made a similar proposal to ArkDev, the founder of blockchain gaming platform NFT Worlds, although there's no public information of where that offer stands.
Even more surprisingly, the troubled project community members seem to be willing to cut their losses by settling with the founders. They're eager to let them keep 100 ETH (worth approximately $250,000 at current market prices) for the project's data while using the remaining funds to hire a development team.
"What we really want are the assets and 200-400ETH to hire people to run the project," they said. "Most rug pulls recover little of anything, so the community is realistic in terms of a settlement. We are in agreement to letting them keep some. We just want enough to run the project."