Recently the topic of NFTs (Non-fungible tokens) has been big news for its potential to revolutionise commerce for artists working in all mediums. For those uninitiated, NFTs are a type of cryptocurrency token that refer to a non duplicatable digital asset. Meaning if you buy an art piece as an NFT you are the sole owner of that unique one-of-a-kind work of art. The rules do get a little muddy though, since it doesn’t stop anyone from being able to simply take a picture, video, or screenshot of the original artwork. But hey, the owner will always remain the owner according to the block chain ledger, that is until they sell it. So inherently many people will think this is a waste of money as anyone can have the art, even though it is possible that upon purchase of the art that the owner receives the high quality renders of said art or token. NFTs also have the potential to further commercialize virtual experiences, immersive artworks, music videos, and more.
This situation hit mainstream news this month when the artist Beeple, also known as Mike Winkelmann, sold a 10 second loop NFT, titled Crossroad, worth 4428 ETH, or 6.6 million dollars. This piece is unique in that it changed based on who won the 2020 US election. Beeple is known for posting an ‘everyday’ picture using 3D graphics for over ten years. His artwork is conceptual, meme worthy, and has a metaverse feel to it.
NFTs originally appeared thanks to the Ethereum network’s ability to create smart contracts but since then a lot of other cryptocurrencies have started using them. One of the first games that used this technology was CryptoKitties. A collectable cat game where you breed very expensive kittens with unique traits. Take Dragon, a cat that is worth approximately $887k.
Blockchain has been trying to infiltrate the gaming space for a couple of years, most notably with Enjin, a cryptocurrency designed for game developers and players to create, manage, and trade blockchain assets as in game items and currency. There probably is more power in a system where every game is on a singular block chain, but I don’t think that is happening any time too soon.
What NFT’s could do for players short-term is provide a limited form of this block chain item management and ownership for rare in-game items. For game artists, NFTs could allow for individuals to become more widespread and celebrated like artists working in traditional mediums. Currently the game company that an artist works for usually owns the work that the artist produces. Through NFTs, independent artists could have a feasible shot at widespread and celebrated freelance work. It has been said that famous game developers will overall help the game industry as a whole, so why wouldn’t famous game artists be any different?