GameStop launches a new NFT gaming marketplace in partnership with Sydney-based Ethereum layer-two solution ImmutableX.
The marketplace will offer in-game NFT assets from Web3 games built on ImmutableX, such as the trading card game Gods Unchained and Guild of Guardians, a role-playing game (RPG).
GameStop marketplace changes asset economics
The new NFT marketplace will be available to GameStop players and GameStop Powerup Pro customers in the U.S. It will allow carbon-neutral NFT minting with no gas fees. Its launch follows a joint fund of $100 million between GameStop and ImmutableX in Feb. 2022.
According to ImmutableX CEO Robbie Ferguson, this marketplace will allow players to own in-game assets. This model is a departure from the traditional revenue model of gaming giants.
In the past, gamers playing games from major studios were forced to trade in-game assets on black market websites since their legitimate exchange was not allowed.
At press time, several NFTs had been listed on the marketplace, including several “pawn” NFTs from Immortal Game, a Web3 chess game. The current prices for these NFTs range from 0.007 ETH upwards.
Also listed are NFTs of digital trading cards from DC comics, though these are not yet for sale. Gamers can connect their crypto wallets, including GameStop’s recently announced GameStop Wallet.
GameStop shares jumped 5% soon after the opening bell on Monday, Oct. 31, 2022. It ended the trading day 0.41% in the green.
A brief history of GameStop’s Web3 pivot
GameStop was born from a joint initiative between two Harvard Business School alumni, James McCurry and Gary M. Kusin. Initially, McCurry and Kusin opened a software retailer Babbage, which later morphed into a video game sales company that sold games for the Atari 2600 gaming console.
After a spate of acquisitions between 2004 and 2016, the company entered a decline due to the emergence of downloadable games on platforms like Microsoft’s Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network. A reduction in foot traffic during the Covid-19 pandemic didn’t help matters. It then racked up significant losses in the third quarter of 2021 that prompted changes to its business model.
After recording those losses, the company signaled its intention to diversify its struggling brick-and-mortar gaming business into Web3 at the start of 2022. It hired a new executive team in 2021, naming investor Ryan Cohen as the company’s chairman, who has since pushed for the company to focus on technology. Later, the company hired more than 20 people in Jan. 2022 to spearhead the development of a marketplace for buying, selling and trading NFTs from video games.
GameStop following broader NFT trend
Time will tell whether the pivot to NFTs will improve GameStop’s bottom line. To its credit, the NFTs listed so far are likely to be items that are more collectibles than speculative assets. According to a recent report by Activate Technologies, this could bode well for its success. The report suggested that buyers are moving away from NFTs as speculative investments. Instead, they choose to buy NFTs as collectibles, display them on social media profiles, or become part of a community.
But GameStop and ImmutableX also face competition for gamers from layer one blockchain, Zilliqa. Zilliqa declared war on console makers PlayStation and Xbox by announcing a Web3-focused gaming console slated for a 2023 launch. Zilliqa will release a skill-to-earn game, WEB3WAR, with the console.
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