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‘NFTs are a scam,’ says indie game store Itch.io

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‘If you think they are legitimately useful [...] please reevaluate your life choices.’

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

The world of online creators is increasingly divided on the subject of NFTs, but indie game store Itch.io has taken a firm and clear stance on the topic.

“A few have asked about our stance on NFTs,” the company tweeted this week. “NFTs are a scam. If you think they are legitimately useful for anything other than the exploitation of creators, financial scams, and the destruction of the planet [then] we ask that [you] please reevaluate your life choices.”

Itch.io’s strong stance is notable at a time when many organizations — from gaming companies to digital storefronts like Itch.io itself — are at least toying with the idea of integrating NFTs. GameStop recently announced plans to launch its own NFT marketplace while games giant Ubisoft seems to be quietly continuing its own NFT plans. Backlash from the public, though, has stopped some similar plans in their tracks. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. back-tracked on its NFT ambitions after outcry from fans, while a recent survey of game developers made it clear that industry insiders, too, aren’t happy about the technology.

Itch.io followed its initial policy announcement with an addendum: ”Also [fuck] any company that says they support creators and also endorses NFTs in any way. They only care about their own profit and the opportunity for wealth above anyone else. Especially given the now easily available discourse concerning the problems of NFTs.”

The company’s decision to call out “any company that says they support creators and also endorses NFTs” isn’t explicit in who it’s referencing, but it seems to be a nod to recent drama involving Gumroad — a digital storefront that makes it easy for creators to sell their work, from artwork to gaming mods to audio plug-ins.

The background on this is a little convoluted (you can read an overview of what happened here), but essentially there was a suggestion that Gumroad was getting into NFTs, which caused a backlash from creators, which the company reacted to by being weird and snarky on its official Twitter account. (Gumroad’s current line on the subject: “If and when we do anything related to crypto/NFTs, you’ll hear it from us first. For now, no plans.”)

Given Itch.io has made a name for itself by being a “humane” store in contrast to corporate behemoths like Steam, its stance on NFTs is not too surprising. For some digital creators, the technology is being embraced as a straightforward way to make money, but for many others it’s simply wasteful and exploitative. In other words, like Itch.io says, a scam.