NFTs are coming for in-game content. Mythical Games, the developer behind Blankos Block Party, has announced the alpha launch of a marketplace where players can buy and sell the game’s in-game characters, called “Blankos.”
Currently in open beta on PC, Blankos Block Party is an open-world multiplayer game where players compete on levels created by the community. Similar to Roblox, players create their own games within the game, and set their own rules. Everyone in Blankos Block Party plays as a Blanko, blocky vinyl characters with colorful designs.
Digital scarcity — Some of the earliest Blankos have been designed by top vinyl artists, and they’re only available to the first 5,000 players who nab them. Mythical Games says that every Blanko is recorded to a blockchain, certifying its ownership and making it tradeable. “As the game's audience continues to grow, earlier assets and specialized releases will become more scarce and likely more valuable in the secondary market,” the company says in a press release.
The hype surrounding NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, has hit stratospheric levels in recent months as big-name artists and celebrities have sold limited edition digital collectibles for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars — Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey even “sold” his first tweet for nearly $3 million.
NFTs are essentially digital certificates of authenticity attached to digital files that imbue them with scarcity, and rely on a blockchain to track ownership as files are bought and sold. Anyone can look at Dorsey’s first tweet, but only one person can say they own a signed copy of it, hence the value.
Play to get paid — In gaming, players spend countless hours defeating enemies to level up the capabilities of their characters and weapons. The Mythical Marketplace, as it’s called, will allow gamers to reap a monetary reward not just by selling rare characters, but also from selling characters they’ve leveled up through hours of gameplay. Buyers will be able to sort marketplace listings by skill level and other attributes to find exactly the character they want.
“Players have invested billions of dollars into digital items in other online games without a tangible way to benefit from it beyond occasional gameplay advantages,” reads a press release from Mythical Games. “Through the proprietary Mythical Marketplace, players can unlock the value of monetary, rarity and time-based investments by selling their Blankos to other players for real/fiat or cryptocurrency in safe and secure transactions, with proof of authenticity.”
Boom or bust? — Playable NFTs provide obvious value because gamers can unlock new in-game abilities. But it’s still unknown whether or not the broader market for NFT collectibles, like pictures and tweets, is a fad or a sustainable trend. Average prices for NFTs have collapsed nearly 70 percent since February, according to Nonfungible.com. The technology peaked in interest after a digital artwork by Beeple sold for more than $69 million.
Some speculate many of the purchases have been made by cryptocurrency whales who are placing speculative bets that they’ll be able to flip their purchases and make a quick buck. It seems unlikely that tweets will continue to sell for millions of dollars at any serious level. More optimistic types see NFTs as a way everyday artists could someday make a living from digital art by selling rare collectibles to their fans or allowing them to continue to see a slice of each resale of their work.