Video game company Square Enix agrees to sell much of their Western IP so they can go into the blockchain market

Cover of a copy of Tomb Raider for XBOXTomb Raider (attribution)
Video game company Square Enix, the creators of titles including Deus Ex and Tomb Raider, agreed to sell off the intellectual property rights to those games, as well as other games and their respective game studios. The move, they said, was so they could invest more heavily in "blockchain, AI, and the cloud". This didn't come as an enormous surprise, as in January, Square Enix CEO announced these intentions in a letter that acknowledged that that (apparent subset) of players who "play to have fun" wouldn't be thrilled with their blockchain plans.

The sale agreement announcement came at a tough time for Square Enix, as it was published the same day as a report from the Wall Street Journal that "NFT Sales are Flatlining".

The Vatican plans a metaverse NFT gallery

A grid of four rendered humanoid figures with very shiny skin. The women have large breasts and tiny waists, the man is muscular and slim. The top left woman is wearing a shiny white bodysuit and an iridescent complex harness around her breasts and midsection. The top right woman is wearing a translucent pink bra with large nipple rings, and fishnet pantyhose under purple pants. The bottom left man is wearing no shirt but an iridescent chest harness, and ashiny blue bottoms. The bottom right woman is wearing a very small orange crop top that reveals the bottom half of her breasts, tiny orange underwear, and a translucent pink waist harness.Can't wait to roll up to the Vatican museum in my metaverse avatar (attribution)
A press release from metaverse developer Sensorium announced a "VR and NFT gallery" that would host art and content for the Vatican. The project will allow VR, PC, and mobile interactions, and enable people to "build unique NPCs and communicate with them". That part is a promising prospect for anyone interested in watching the Roman Catholic Church try to deal with the challenges of moderating metaverse shenanigans, and made altogether more amusing by the fact that Sensorium's current collection of example metaverse avatars are all hypersexualized, apparently covered in oil, and wear skimpy or sheer outfits apparently made from mesh, latex, and various harnesses.

For now it sounds like the project doesn't involve selling NFTs, which raises the question of why NFTs are required at all when the goal seems to just be to display artwork online—something the Vatican already does. Personally, until I can own the Popemobile in the metaverse, I'm not interested.

Central African Republic adopts Bitcoin as legal tender

The Central African Republic became the second country to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender, after El Salvador did the same in September 2021. It's a strange move, in a country where only 4% of people have Internet access, whose currency (the Central African CFA franc) is fairly stable, and which already has access to digital currencies via services like Orange Money.

The Bank of Central African States (BEAC) has expressed surprise at the CAR's choice, saying that they only learned about it along with the rest of the public. Two former prime ministers of the CAR co-authored a letter stating that adopting Bitcoin as legal tender without guidance from the BEAC was a "serious offence".

Fidelity plans to allow people to put retirement savings into Bitcoin

Financial services company Fidelity announced its intentions to allow people to put some of their retirement savings into Bitcoin in the near future, despite the Department of Labor's urgings otherwise. It is concerning to see a large financial helping to normalize the idea that cryptocurrencies are an "investment".

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 requires plan fiduciaries to act solely in the financial interest of plan participants, and the U.S. Department of Labor issued guidance in March reminding plan fiduciaries of this duty, urging them to "exercise extreme care before including direct investment options in cryptocurrency". In a blog post shortly after, the DoL wrote that they had "serious concerns" about plans that would expose participants in cryptocurrencies and related products, outlining risks including valuation concerns, obstacles to making informed decisions, price volatility, and a still-developing regulatory landscape.

A Fidelity executive said that the company "believe[s] they should withdraw that guidance".

MetaDocs NFT project wants TikTok-famous doctors to diagnose you, but they don't have a license

TikTok screenshot of a doctor wearing black scrubs, mid-sentence. There is overlaid text that says "Ear Candling" and a MetaDocs logo.MetaDocs TikTok video (attribution)
Buy the $570 NFT and you'll get access to "celebrity doctors" who have amassed followings on apps like TikTok. Promising to "provide access quality doctors without all the usual red tape", the project has lofty dreams including one day providing metaverse diagnoses with remote examinations delivered using haptic suits... somehow.

Whether they actually get close to that dream very much remains to be seen. The project has faced several setbacks, including complaints from doctors whose likenesses were used without permission, and lack of any telemedicine license that would allow doctors to actually provide remote medical services. The project has also faced criticism for hosting "Ask a Doc" chats where physicians answered various questions without clarifying they weren't providing medical advice, for listing "physicians" in their whitepaper who were still completing residency, and for pledging to donate its first $1 million in revenue to an autism-related charity which has promoted the false claim that vaccines cause autism and has described autism as a disorder that needs to be "cured".

Archie Comics announces "Archiverse" NFT project to overwhelmingly negative reception

An red-haired young man wearing a blue varsity jacket has fully white eyes and what appears to be magical energy swirling around him, emanating from a floating book in front of himArchiverse NFTs promotional image (attribution)
Archie Comics announced they would be launching an NFT project called "Archieverse", which centers around their spooky "Madam Satan" character and invites people to "unlock the universe of Archie Comics to play, create, and be credited on a forthcoming comic book title". The project's creators have some pretty high hopes, aiming to mint 66,666 NFTs at $66.66 each, which would earn them $4.4 million from the mint alone if they were to sell all of them.

Reception to the project was swift and overwhelmingly negative. Even the biggest Archie fans who already populated the existing Archie Comics Discord (which saw the addition of crypto channels on the day of the announcement) seemed largely unhappy with the news, and a plan to migrate to their own server free from the NFT and crypto chat was quickly hatched.

Gripnr seeks to financialize your Dungeons & Dragons games

An illustration of a dwarf with a long grey beard and short cropped hair with some braids in it. He is hunched over holding a glaive and is wearing a chainmail shirtGripnr dwarf NFT illustration (attribution)
Because, really, what is even the point of playing Dungeons & Dragons if you're not buying a premade character from a limited set of options, playing premade adventures with it, getting "Gripnr certified" as a dungeonmaster (or finding someone who is), paying transaction fees every time you level up or get new equipment, or reselling your characters after the campaign ends (to someone who apparently wants a "used" D&D character)?

A company called Gripnr is already working to line up NFT pre-sales, despite acknowledging that they have no idea how they will prevent fraudulent data input—an issue commonly known as the oracle problem. It's also unclear how they intend to change the game so that it's sufficiently different from the Wizards of the Coasts game that they will not face legal action (an issue that ended another crypto project planned to be based around a WotC game). We can only hope that none of this may last long enough to become an issue, given that Gripnr have come up with an idea that I can't imagine appealing to a single person who's ever played D&D.

Star Trek gets into NFTs

A rendering of a spaceship resembling the Starship EnterpriseSample Star Trek NFT (attribution)
Star Trek announced the creation of "Star Trek Continuum", a part of Paramount's new NFT platform. They state that the project is "accessible to everyone [with $250 to throw around] and allows another expression of fandom [by giving us their money]". The press release attempts to drum up FOMO by writing, "there will never be more of these designs created and the minting window will only be open for 24 hours"—however, it also talks about how this is "Season 0" and the platform will be used for "future seasons of Star Trek™ NFTs."

Worldcoin, creators of the eyeball scanning orb that promises universal basic income, encounter more difficulties

A man sits staring into a gleaming silver sphereStare into the Orb (attribution)
New reporting from BuzzFeed News and MIT Technology Review described some of the issues that Worldcoin has been encountering on its mission to scan the eyeballs of the world population, in exchange for nebulous promises of crypto. Although "Orb operators" have been out and about scanning eyeballs in countries around the world, those who've agreed to be scanned have only been offered a voucher for Worldcoin tokens and a promise that they may, someday, be redeemable for $20. Meanwhile, the company appears to be flouting data privacy laws and endangering operators of these Orbs, who have encountered threats from angry uncompensated users, and some of whom have been detained by law enforcement. Those who have agreed to have their eyes scanned have accused the company of "stealing their eyes", and fear how their biometric data may be used.

Someone mints NFTs of r/place, because what's the point of collective artwork if someone can't profit off it

Pixel artwork showing a Bitcoin with a cancel symbol, and "r/FUCKNFTS"Portion of r/place (attribution)
Reddit reopened its chaotic collaborative art project, r/place, for several days. Users could place colored pixels onto a shared canvas at limited intervals, collaborating to festoon the page with flags, fan art, memes, subreddit names, activist statements, logos, and everything else people could collectively convince others to help create. The collaborative canvas at various times conveyed pro- and anti-crypto sentiment, with r/Buttcoin putting up a valiant effort to stamp "Fuck NFTs" onto the piece.

Sadly, the collaborative and fun community art piece and social experiment was financialized almost immediately after the last pixels were placed, with several projects cropping up to sell portions of the canvas for crypto. One of the projects ended almost as quickly as it began, replacing all its NFT images with the "r/FUCKNFTS" portion of the canvas and rewriting the description to say, "Ok, I guess that was a bad move and a bad Joke. Please use Cryptos as decentralized money against states, not to sale dumb images on the internet. Love U Reddit, got U". Other projects, however, remain for sale.

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