Indie devs outraged by unlicensed game sales on GameStop’s NFT market [Updated]

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In the first week of GameStop’s recently launched NFT marketplace, the NiFTy Arcade collection stood out. Rather than offering standard JPEGs, the collection offered “interactive NFTs” linked to HTML5 games that were fully playable from an owner’s crypto wallet (or from the GameStop Marketplace page itself).

There was only one problem: many of those NFT games were minted and sold without the creators’ permission, let alone the creators could share in crypto profits.

Although the man behind NiFTy Arcade has since been suspended from GameStop’s NFT marketplace, he’s still holding onto the tens of thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency he made selling those NFTs before the suspension. And while the affected NFTs are no longer listed on the GameStop NFT marketplace, the unlicensed games themselves are still accessible on GameStop’s servers and through a distributed file storage system, where they are now functionally impossible to delete.

What if an arcade, but with NFTs?

Nathan Ello, creator of NiFTy Arcade, told Ars that his collection grew out of a desire “to highlight potential use cases for NFTs beyond static images.” But Ello got a little abstract when asked to explain the usefulness of freshly minted NFT versions of games that were already freely playable elsewhere on the web.

“If people find value in these NFTs, that’s a bonus, but my intention is to create and showcase games that are playable within NFT marketplaces and within NFT wallets,” he told Ars. “Should anyone want the convenience of playing the game directly from their wallet or their own profile page in the marketplace without having to navigate to mine, they are welcome to purchase a copy.”

The NiFTy Arcade Collection, as it appeared on the GameStop NFT marketplace on July 15.
enlarge / The NiFTy Arcade Collection, as it appeared on the GameStop NFT marketplace on July 15.

Ello ended up selling hundreds of NFTs based on the first three games of the NiFTy Arcade collection, earning at least 46.7 ETH (worth about $55,000) from those sales on July 15 (Update: NiFTy Arcade made it clear to Ars that it earned only 8.4 ETH from the initial sale of the respective NFTs. The rest of the 46.7 ETH mentioned was secondary sales, on which NiFTy Arcade only earned a 10 percent fee. Ars regrets the confusion.) But for at least two of those games…Worm Nom Nom and Galactic Wars—Ello admitted that he never sought the necessary permission from the original creators before selling them. There is also proof that Ello minted and distributed a number of other games through NFT marketplaces without the creators’ permission, including: Breakout Hero, Super Disc Boxand intruder Overload, according to Joseph “Lexaloffle” White, creator of the PICO-8 pixel game engine.

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