GameStop makes NFT marketplace plans official

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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GameStop is becoming an NFT player.

After a month of industry speculation, GameStop is confirming its intention to launch a digital marketplace for non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

As reported by the Wall Street Journal in early January 2021, the specialty video game retailer is planning to create a marketplace for NFTs. NFTs are unique digital assets stored on a blockchain ledger that certifies the owner. There is no way for an NFT to have more than one owner, and only the certified owner can sell it.

GameStop will use the Immutable X liquidity platform to launch its NFT marketplace. By building on the Immutable X protocol, which is based on the Ethereum open-source blockchain protocol, the retailer intends to enable faster, more affordable, carbon-neutral, and nearly limitless transactions on its NFT marketplace, which is being built for launching gaming developer-focused NFT projects.

Immutable and GameStop are also creating an up to $100 million fund dedicated to providing grants to game developers and studios to build on Immutable X and the retailer’s NFT marketplace. The GameStop NFT marketplace will create opportunities for developers to create in-game, carbon-neutral economies in which gamers can buy, sell and trade in-game assets (such as digital real estate, swords, and skins).

GameStop may view NFTs as a way to create new revenue streams, relieve supply chain and inventory pressures, and increase its stock value. The company lost $105.4 million, or $1.39 a share, in the quarter ended Oct. 30, 2021, compared with a loss of $19 million, or $0.29 a share, in the year-ago period.

“GameStop is in a very unique position, because a lot of these NFT projects are starting to add gaming utility behind the NFTs themselves,” Adam Hollander, an NFT investor and creator of the “Hungry Wolves” NFT collection, told CNBC following initial media reports of GameStop’s NFT plans. “GameStop is well-positioned, in my opinion, to be able to capitalize on that they have hundreds of millions of people that play video games that least recognize GameStop as a credible brand.”

[Read more: Three reasons retailers find NFTs nifty]

The Immutable X platform is built using the StarkWare StarkEx zero-knowledge proof technology, which rolls up hundreds of thousands of transactions into one Ethereum transaction while enabling GameStop to secure customers’ digital assets directly on Ethereum. Any carbon footprint is then offset with certified climate-conscious partners Trace and Cool Effect.

This integration will allow all of the existing and future projects built on Immutable X to featuring their NFTs on GameStop’s NFT marketplace. Existing partners on Immutable X include Gods Unchained (a leading blockchain game), Guild of Guardians (a leading blockchain mobile role-playing game), Ember Sword, Playco, TikTok, Planet Quest, ESL Gaming, GreenPark Sports, and Illuvium.

GameStop has not yet made any public announcements about working with cryptocurrency. In January, the Wall Street Journal reported the company has hired more than 20 experts in blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies in the past several months as part of advance work it has been quietly conducting to enter both Web 3.0 spaces.

[Read more: 2022 – The year of Web 3.0?]

“Immutable is excited to be working with GameStop and leading gaming publishers to support genuine power to players. Gaming is now bigger than music and movies combined -- but the time and value that gamers invest cannot be turned into real economic value. GameStop, in partnership with Immutable, has the potential to cement itself as the ultimate destination for the next paradigm of gaming; true in-game economies that enable permissionless ownership of in-game items and value players for their time,” said Robbie Ferguson, co-founder of Immutable. “GameStop’s NFT marketplace will bring the power of an insanely strong community to its over 50 million users and every developer that launches on it, and our technology will make it faster, easier, and more affordable to do so - while being 100% carbon-neutral.”