GameStop announced earlier this year that it would be joining the crypto goldrush, and somehow find a way to insert itself into the grift-cum-minefield of NFTs. Today the retailer launched the GameStop Wallet (opens in new tab), a digital Ethereum-based app and browser extension that allows users to… well, store crypto, trade NFTs and that seems to be about it.
There’s a full FAQ on the ominously named GameStop Blockchain website, but it’s all a lot of words that amount to ‘you can buy and trade pictures.’ Hilariously enough among its bumpf the concept of a ‘swap’ is defined: “Swapping is a process that allows you to exchange one asset for another asset.” Amazing.
It’s also pretty amusing that one of the big selling points for crypto and blockchain stuff more generally is security—despite the near-weekly stories of hacks and breaches—yet all of this technology is at the mercy of a Secret Recovery Phrase that is essential for forgetful meatbags. Twelve words. You could have all the algorithms in the galaxy behind this stuff and if some dummy shares this phrase it doesn’t matter. And if a user gets locked out of their wallet and has lost that Secret Recovery Phrase, they’re completely screwed!
Don’t all rush at once to sign up.
GameStop’s NFT marketplace has not yet launched, though is still apparently on-track for the summer. The Wall Street Journal reports (opens in new tab) that the company’s hired over 20 people to run its foray into crypto, and it’s been asking developers and publishers to create NFTs for this GameStop marketplace.
The push into this area is part of the company’s new strategy under chairman Ryan Cohen, who was appointed last year following the meme stocks phenomenon. Cohen’s appointment was celebrated by the stonklords but he’s had a tough time turning the company around since taking over, and almost halfway through 2022 GameStop stock is down 35% since the start of the year.
GameStop’s project comes with the usual guff about eventually creating “in-game items that players can truly own” and how developers will build “in-game, carbon-neutral economies in which gamers can buy, sell and trade in-game assets (eg digital real estate, swords, skins).” For now: there’s a wallet.
As a business, GameStop’s prospects are hard to see clearly in the aftermath of last year’s giant stock surge. Bricks-and-mortar retail is its bread-and-butter in an era when that’s on the decline, and it’s unclear whether moves like this are going to be the Hail Mary play it needs to justify some of that ‘deep value’ the meme-lords claim. Still, never underestimate the power of the internet: only last week it was announced that Mervin Capital, one of the hedge funds badly burned by the stock surge, was to close.