American video game retailer GameStop is making a move into the crypto and NFT space. The retailer announced its own NFT project, while also registering a token on the Ethereum blockchain. Not entirely unsurprising, the token ticker is GME.
On the official website, GameStop labels their project as GameStop NFT. In addition it has a slogan: Change the game. Whether this refers to ‘the game’ of being a game retailer, or literally changing the way video game economies work with blockchain-powered economies… that’s a question left unanswered.
However, with the Ethereum logo and the crypto token contract address on the GameStop website, their intention to become an Ethereum-powered project seems to be clear. At the bottom of the website, they mention that they are searching for developers and community leaders with experience in the blockchain space. Most likely a working product is still a bit far off.
Interestingly, GameStop already had its moment in the spotlight. Earlier this year a group of retail investors grouped up and pumped the GME stock to great heights. As a result investors that had been shorting and manipulating the stock downwards for years, suddenly had a tremendous loss. The event hit mainstream media, caused trading app Robinhood to fail miserably and paved the way for WallStreetBets to become a name in the crypto space.
Blockchain game distribution
Whatever GameStop is doing, will be interesting. Video game retailers have had a rough couple of years with the rise of digital distribution. Even though there’s always a demand for physical items, that demand is waning. The biggest distributors for video games are online distribution channels like Steam, the Apple AppStore and the Google Play Store. Nowadays Amazon and Ebay also sell digital codes for games, further diminishing the need for physical stores. On top of all that PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox of course have their own digital store.
With the rise of mobile games, Google and Apple have become powerhouses. Without a doubt the battle that’s being fought in court between Epic Games and Apple is interesting, as the outcome will likely impact the entire games industry. It might even damage the thrones of both Apple and Google.
Now there’s blockchain technology. Through blockchain technology gamers don’t license the right to play a game, they will buy an NFT. Currently the most interesting effort in this space is being developed in France, where Ultra is working on their own blockchain-powered game distribution platform. They have already partnered with Atari, with Animoca Brands, and most likely more will follow once the product goes into its public testing phase.
What is Ultra game distribution?
Ultra is a blockchain-powered game distribution platform. In essence it will be like Steam, but the blockchain provides scarcity. That means that a limited edition copy of a game really is limited in supply. In addition this also means that players can sell the games they have acquired. This is beneficial for developers, because they are a percentage over every re-sale.
By using Ultra developers are able to upload game builds and create the rules through which these games are sold and distributed. Developers decide on the most efficient way to distribute games to their fans. They earn revenue from every sale without delay, and compared with other distribution platforms, the fees are quite low.
Ultra lets developers customize several parameters, like for example the option to allow secondary market trading. Developers also have the power to decide when to allow reselling, for how long, and the revenue cut they want on this resale. The system stores all these settings into a token, which goes on sale in the Ultra store. In addition developers control the region in which builds are available. They can set a maximum amount of copies allowed for sale. This can create an interesting revenue opportunity when developers for example release limited edition downloadable content.