A Eulogy for GameStop’s Doomed NFT Marketplace

We’ll always have the memories (of tasteless jokes and stolen art).

Originally Published: 
key art for GameStop NFT marketplace

Predicting which trends will catch on in the fast-moving world of gaming can be difficult. Who would have guessed that relatively low-budget indies like Among Us and Vampire Survivors would be the next big thing or that a multiplayer game based on the Avengers released just a year after Endgame would be a flop? But sometimes, a trend is so obviously doomed from the start that its end feels more like an inevitability. That’s where we are with the definitively un-shocking closure of GameStop’s NFT marketplace.

First spotted by Decrypt, GameStop recently posted an alert on its marketplace’s website announcing that the end is nigh. Simply titled “Important Update,” the notice reads, “GameStop has decided to wind down our NFT marketplace due to the continuing regulatory uncertainty of the crypto space.” The marketplace will cease to be on February 4, leaving users with one less place to sell their overpriced jpegs.

GameStop did not immediately respond to Inverse’s request for comment.

GameStop’s NFT marketplace is the latest failure of the games retailer to prove it’s still got a reason to exist.

Bloomberg/Getty Images

GameStop began its foray into crypto by hiring staff for the NFT division in January 2022, when companies throughout the games industry still had high hopes of cashing in on the trend. It was the same month Atari announced its own NFT loot boxes and less than a month after Ubisoft began to offer Ghost Recon: Breakpoint NFTs through its Quartz marketplace — a bold step into the future of gaming that lasted until March of that year.

GameStop’s marketplace didn’t actually launch until July 2022, when it became an immediate success. No, wait, I’m holding this chart upside down. The marketplace had a slow launch, earning just $45,000 on its first day, according to Ars Technica. Another Ars Technica analysis showed trading slowed down further over its first week, with trades on some NFT collections falling 50 percent from launch day.

From there, the marketplace remained on a slow march to the grave, stepping on rakes the whole way. Within weeks of opening the marketplace, GameStop had to pull an NFT mocking the famous “The Falling Man” photo, depicting a man falling to his demise on 9/11, as spotted by Web3 is Going Just Great. In August 2022, one NFT creator’s offerings were found to be stolen from existing games, according to yet another report from Ars Technica.

The retailer launched the GameStop Wallet app, with which users could store their NFTs, in May 2022, before the opening of its own marketplace. In November 2023, GameStop Wallet closed. At the time, GameStop blamed the decision on the same “regulatory uncertainty of the crypto space” now cited in the marketplace’s closure.

Square Enix is still holding out hope for the future of NFTs with the glass-eyed protagonists of Symbiogenesis.

Square Enix

Despite the grim announcement, there’s still hope for anyone who wants to continue adding their hard-earned money to the pyre that is gaming NFTs. Square Enix president Takashi Kiryu reaffirmed the company’s commitment to the blockchain (as well as AI) in a statement earlier this month, and its Symbiogenesis NFT game that no one wanted is apparently out now. Who knew?

Developer Nexon is also going all-in on MapleStory Universe, which it describes as “a blockchain ecosystem based on the MapleStory IP.” In practical terms, that means Nexon is still planning to launch MapleStory N, a blockchain-infested version of its popular MMORPG — eventually.

So while GameStop has bailed out, the incredibly stupid dream lives on. And if you find yourself missing the glory days of GameStop’s NFT marketplace too much, just remember the saying — don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it was an entertaining garbage fire we all knew was never going to work anyway.

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