Crypto

Cryptocurrency enthusiasts meet their match: Angry Gamers – Reuters

SAN FRANCISCO — For years, Christian Lantz played STALKER, a first-person shooter set in post-apocalyptic Ukraine that became a cult hit for its immersive RPG. So when the 18-year-old high school student heard that a sequel was coming this year, he knew he had to buy it.

That was until GSC Game World, the Ukrainian company behind the video game, announced last month that the new STALKER would incorporate crypto assets known as non-fungible tokens, or NFTs. In the new game, GSC said, players will be able to buy and sell NFTs of items such as clothing for their in-game characters. The company heralded the move as a “transformative step” toward the virtual world known as the metaverse.

Mr. Lantz was furious. He joined thousands of fans on Twitter and Reddit who raged against NFTs in the sequel to STALKER. The game maker, they said, was simply looking to squeeze more money out of its players. The backlash was so intense that GSC quickly reversed and abandoned its NFT plan.

“The studio was abusing its popularity,” said Lantz, who lives in Ontario. “Obviously it’s done for profit rather than just making a beautiful game.”

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Credit…GSC game world

For more than a year, crypto mania has been raging. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum have increased in value. Cryptocurrency-based assets such as NFTs have taken off. Jack Dorsey, one of the founders of Twitter, recently renamed one of his companies Block after blockchain, the distributed ledger system that powers digital currencies. Melania Trump has auctioned off her own NFTs.

But for some, the cryptocurrency craze has gone too far, too fast. Skeptics argue that cryptocurrencies and related assets such as NFTs are digital Ponzi schemes, with prices artificially inflated beyond their true value. Some wonder if cryptocurrencies and blockchain, which are slippery concepts, have long-term utility.

Nowhere has there been more discontent than in the gaming community, where cryptocurrency clashes have increasingly erupted between users and major game studios like Ubisoft, Square Enix and Zynga. In many encounters, the players have prevailed, at least for now.

“People are sold buzzwords,” said Mutahar Anas, a gamer and YouTuber with three million subscribers. Those who introduce NFTs into games, he said, are “trying to sell you snake oil.”

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