Why Are Some Gamers Against NFTs? Comments Off on Why Are Some Gamers Against NFTs? 108

From Gen Z Corner, The Block Talk’s interns tackle topics from the perspective of young consumers.

On December 15 of last year, Game World, the developers for the widely- anticipated S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 videogame, announced that the game would be entering the metaverse. The implementation, they said in a tweet which has since been deleted, would not impact gameplay and would be optional for players. One day later, due to massive backlash and pre-order cancellation threats, Game World sent another tweet announcing that they reversed their stance on these changes. 

And Game World isn’t the only gaming brand that had second thoughts about introducing NFTs. Just this year, Forbes reported that game publishing giant EA had backtracked on their major NFT projects. Another major publisher, Ubisoft, similarly experienced pushback from the gaming community after pursuing their own NFTs which are called digits. Digits are digital assets that can be used in Ubisoft’s games. They’re stored in Ubisoft Quartz, which is effectively a digital wallet. These NFTs can then be bought and sold on marketplaces using Tezos cryptocurrency on the XTZ blockchain. Ubisoft Quartz’s announcement video was so controversial for gamers that it initially garnered a 96% dislike on YouTube. 

Why Are Some Gamers Anti-NFT? 

One reason gamers are so adamantly against NFTs is because they see them as another way publishers can get away with giving them an ‘incomplete’ game. Many gamers have grown weary of microtransactions in games, which are seen as a way for developers to nickel-and-dime the consumer. Microtransactions are encouraged for downloadable content (DLCs for short), that include the sale of in-game content, expansions, character skins, digital art, and more. In other words, NFTs if they are minted on a blockchain.  

Another concern is that NFTs will utilize lootbox mechanics. A lootbox is a container with undetermined contents from a pool of obtainable items. Like in a slot machine, getting your desired outcome is not guaranteed, but the prospect is addictive. Lootboxes have been widely-debated for their link to gambling addiction, and the implementation of lootboxes has been banned in some countries, including the Netherlands. 

However, even though some gamers are opposed to the notion of in-game NFTs, the community has historically embraced the general concept. Steam, the biggest digital video game distribution platform has a community market where NFT-like digital assets for games are bought, sold and traded regularly, much like any NFT marketplace today. The main difference being that Steam is centralized, and it does not permit cryptocurrency purchases or use a blockchain of any kind. 

Gamers, knowingly or not, have been using digital assets for close to a decade, though many are still feverishly against NFTs. There’s likely a path forward for NFTs in the context of games, but gamers and developers have a way to go to ensure mutual value. Surely, with the right set up or incentive, gamers, NFTs and the blockchain technology that enables them will be accepted as the norm and enjoyed within games. 

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Jacob Flores is an intern at The Block Talk and a writer for Gen Z Corner, a platform for exploring Web3 implications through the eyes of Gen Z.

Why Is Everyone Talking About NFTs? Comments Off on Why Is Everyone Talking About NFTs? 51855

In this writer’s opinion the NFT hype is warranted — but not for the reason most people are investing. 

For those who’ve been in the space since Bitcoin’s early surge, you’ll remember the Initial Coin Offering (ICO) boom of 2017. The crowdfunding vehicle, which mirrored an IPO on the public market, brought with it massive amounts of investment into the blockchain space that seemed to mirror Bitcoin’s rapidly increasing value. 

In retrospect, none of it made sense. 

With all the hype, the investment in the space didn’t match due diligence. As of August 2018, investors had lost nearly $100M in ICO exit scams, a major reason we no longer hear about ICOs. 

From there, crowdfunding through token sales was rebranded alongside SEC regulation as Security Token Offerings (STOs). Additional fundraising iterations to enter the scene are Initial DEX Offerings (IDOs) and Initial Exchange Offerings (IEOs).

NFTs are having a similar moment to the immature and potentially reckless ICO market of 2017. The danger can be credited to a mix of hype and a widely unregulated environment with various points of entry and gatekeepers that are not incentivized to shore up fraud. 

As a result, many purchasers of NFTs are falling victim to a spectrum that spans undeserving projects on the mild end and outright scams at the extreme. Meanwhile, hackers are exploiting the unregulated environment. 

Just yesterday, $3 million in NFTs were stolen via an Instagram phishing scam. 

This writer, however, is still bullish on NFTs — just not the ones that are getting all the attention.

NFTs represent a concrete entry-point into the blockchain with a tangible utility and infinite disruptive implications. 

Here are a few.

Digital Assets as Social Proof 

As a Millennial, I personally have a hard time understanding the notion of owning and assigning value to a digital asset, but my kids don’t. 

I’ve written about how Gen Z has already adopted the concept of social proof in digital environments by assigning socially relevant value to digital assets like video game skins. 

As Gen Z ages and becomes an increasingly powerful consumer population, this experience will matter. Whether or not their purchase behavior translates to adulthood remains to be seen, but our kids are already leveraging digital assets in the metaverse to exhibit their position in the social hierarchy in the same way that my generation assigned value to Jansport-brand backpacks. 

Their concept of digital assets will be fundamentally different from ours, and NFTs are likely to benefit. 

But Why Are NFTs Relevant to Me Now?

Social proof is far from the most interesting use case for NFTs. 

In the near-term, NFTs can be utilized to store sale information of physical goods on the blockchain in order to eliminate nefarious actors in fraud-riddled industries like fine wine and art. 

Moreover, NFTs can disrupt any industry with a substantial secondary market. By coding royalties into the smart contract of NFTs, original sellers of wine, art and other trade-susceptible brands and industries can ensure they’ll capture a fee anytime an item is transferred. 

This solves a major problem for creators like photographers, artists and musicians that are notoriously underpaid in comparison to the value they create for brokers. It also has the potential to cut out middlemen like auction houses, record labels, and galleries to democratize the creator economy. 

Other Innovators Have Introduced Creative Use Cases for NFTs

Gary Vaynerchuk utilizes NFTs as tickets for events and other value-adds to his community. Forbes introduced a series of NFT Billionaires that will update alongside the real-time NYSE to gamify their user’s NFT experience in a way that’s brand-relevant. Foxies.art is using a gamified version of NFTs to fundraise blockchain education for women. 

The utility of NFTs is confined only by the imagination of our innovators. Whether or not NFT headlines today will remain relevant is yet to be seen, but one thing is certain: the disruption is only beginning. 

Fidelity to Offer Bitcoin in 401(k) Retirement Plans Comments Off on Fidelity to Offer Bitcoin in 401(k) Retirement Plans 48842

The move is the first for a major retirement plan provider and may signal more widespread adoption of the cryptocurrency. 

On April 26, Fidelity announced its intention to add a Bitcoin investment option to its 401(k) retirement plans. Employees of businesses that pursue the option will be able to allocate as much as 20% of their contributions to Bitcoin, all from the company’s main investment dashboard. According to reporting by the Washington Post, Fidelity said that at least one employer has already signed up for the option which will launch later this year.

“Fidelity’s leadership, especially CEO Abby Johnson, has been at the forefront of institutional Bitcoin and crypto integration for years and is no stranger to the space, with Fidelity’s private equity and venture capital arm being a major source of capital for crypto miners, crypto SPACs, crypto hedge funds and more,” says Eric Lamison-White, Director at STS Capital Group LLC, a cross-border advisory and investment firm. “It is completely in character for Fidelity to steadily and cautiously extend access to their working class customers as the regulatory climate becomes more productive.”

Critics suggest that the volatility of Bitcoin poses an unnecessary risk to a retirement portfolio. It’s a reasonable argument. At the time of this writing, the cryptocurrency’s price has fallen by more than 6% just today. Meanwhile, at $37,978 it’s a far cry from Bitcoin’s high of $68,000, representing more than a 40% drop since November 10th of last year. 

However, advocates of cryptocurrency’s long-term utility disagree.

“Cryptocurrency is a reliable, long-term store of value because it cannot be corrupted by central authorities,” says Lisa Carmen Wang, founder of The Bad Bitch Empire, a platform for female investors in web3. “We’ve already seen hyperinflation, bank failures, and other egregious disasters happen in the last few years, so trust in governments is at an all-time low. Crypto is inevitably volatile now because it is an early stage high-risk/high-reward investment, but for those who believe in the values of a decentralized economy, crypto is an attractive long-term investment that people should consider having in their portfolio.”

Regardless of your appetite for risk, the notion that savers will be able to easily manage contributions to Bitcoin in a respected retirement plan is meaningful.

As of last year, 63% of US adults that did not hold crypto were curious about it. Many people in the crypto-curious category don’t invest because they simply don’t know how. There’s a technological barrier to entry that can feel daunting. 

When you have major retirement plan managers like Fidelity making it easy to add Bitcoin to a portfolio through a dashboard users are already familiar with, we may see this group start investing in the asset class, moving digital currencies further along toward mainstream adoption.

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