UPDATED 13:15 EDT / FEBRUARY 03 2022


GameStop partners with Immutable X to launch NFT marketplace

Video game retail giant GameStop Corp. has finally made good on its long-teased intent to announce the launch of a gaming-related nonfungible token marketplace with a partnership with Immutable X.

The two companies said today they’re also creating a fund of “up to $100 million” intended to use for grants for NFT content and technology, as well as support web3 and metaverse gaming developers.

The upcoming NFT marketplace will launch sometime later this year and will be built on Immutable’s Ethereum-based platform. Immutable X provides what is called a Layer 2 protocol, which helps scale up Ethereum transactions, increases speed and reduces transaction costs. The same platform powers “Gods Unchained,” a blockchain-powered collectible card game.

GameStop teased its upcoming marketplace last month and hired a team of more than 20 people, according to the Wall Street Journal, to run the new division that would seek out new partnerships around NFTs and cryptocurrency-related partnerships.

NFTs are a type of blockchain-based asset that represents the unique ownership of a digital item, such as a piece of artwork, document, music, ticket or other similar things. Since NFTs are cryptographic tokens on peer-to-peer blockchain ledgers, they can be traded between users in transactions where ownership passes between players.

Using GameStop’s marketplace, developers will gain the opportunity to create their own in-game economies, allowing players to buy, sell and trade in-game assets, such as virtual weapons, trading cards, clothing and real estate. All of which could also be exchanged outside of the games for cash with other people.

The proponents of NFTs suggest that with these items players would gain actual ownership over their in-game items, allowing them to accrue value with them and trade them as they desire. This has given rise to a gaming model known as “play-to-earn,” where players earn NFTs and cryptocurrency as they play the game.

That has given rise to games such as the axolotl breeding and collecting game “Axie Infinity” and the card collecting game “Gods Unchained.” It has also attracted the attention of the larger games industry such as major game developer Ubisoft, which launched Ubisoft Quartz. With Quartz, Ubisoft added NFTs known as “Digits” to its first-person shooter game “Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint.” These are cosmetic in-game items with limited releases, giving them scarcity value.

Although gaming companies have begun to explore NFTs, the gaming fan community has reacted poorly to their introduction. Ubisoft has continued with its plans in the face of backlash from its customers, but others such as GSC Game World, the developer of the game “STALKER 2” withdrew plans to add NFTs to its game franchise after an uproar.

The NFT market itself has seen explosive growth during 2021, reaching $41 billion in value according to the newest report from blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis. That’s up significantly from 2020, when the market rose to only $100 million, according to metrics from DappRadar.

Much of this value is fueled by trading artwork from collections such as the Bored Ape Yacht Club. The parent company of the collection, Yuga Labs, is reportedly in talks with Andreessen Horowitz to raise $200 million.

The co-led $100 million grant will be funded using Immutable’s IMX cryptocurrency, GameStop said, and signups are available today for creators and developers looking to build for the upcoming marketplace. Immutable also agreed to pay GameStop up to $150 million more IMX tokens based on the achievement of other milestones based on the partnership.

Image: GameStop

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