As a failed artist, little else in this industry makes me quite as livid as the commodification of creativity. In today’s NFT-obsessed market, the actual work itself (and even more so, the person who made it) is of negligible worth. The obsession for perceived value, and the degree to which you can convince others of that false truth, is what boosts the profit margin of each individual piece.
It doesn’t matter how it looks, all that matters is how it sells. How else could you explain a litany of pathetic, hideous monkey drawings dominating the digital marketplace?
Though few could have foreseen the tactless behemoth that is the ‘metaverse’, most of us have subconsciously suffered through its implications. For me, this would first surface in the form of a colleague who was obsessed with discussing sports, under the thin veil of his gambling addiction. Then, it would become apparent during my brief sojourn into B2B writing in the advertising realm.
I shan’t dally longer in this cursed discourse for longer, but rest assured, my vitriol will someday be laid bare upon the page. I have such sights to show you.
The long and short of it is, artistry has become intertwined with this fictional marketplace, with all of the grace of Brundlefly fusing with the Telepod.
When the notion of Pixelmon was floated around, aspiring shareholders came in droves. It promised an open world monster hunting experience, with Minecraft-modelled graphics and a Pokemon-inspired premise, all with the shallow, heartless appeal of the NFTs that fund it.
The roadmap boasts that “Pixelmon began as a desire to create a fun, open and immersive world set to bridge the gap between NFT and mainstream gaming industries. Pixelmon will introduce a revolutionary play-and-earn experience for millions of people across the ever growing space that is blockchain gaming”.
In case you’re not clear on how this all works, the official website explains, “Pixelmon are creatures that come in all shapes and sizes, travelling with you through the virtual world of Eden! They can be caught in-game and be collected as NFT(s) to then be traded and sold”.
It all reeks of hollow, corporate bullshit, and predictably, it would sell out in less than a day, gobbling up $70 million worth of funding.
Let’s put aside the cease-and-desist-worthy license infringement of Mojang and Nintendo here. The fact of the matter is that our beloved gaming industry was taking one more sleazy step down towards complete monopolisation. First came collector’s editions. Next was DLC. This level of excess was simultaneously inevitable and all our fault.
Then, the reveal came, when the
idiots entrepreneurs who had invested in their hitherto unseen purchases got to experience the quality of their outlay. And what they got was, if you’ll pardon the idiom appropriation, a lot less than they had bargained for. Among the more vindictive who revel in the dismay of blockchain enthusiasts — yes, that’s me — the fallout from these garish, broken messes was an NFT unto itself.
The lacking quality of these abominations became the laughingstock of the blockchain industry (though surely, anyone who has bought an NFT is already used to low standards), with Pixelmon ranging from jumbled Plants vs Zombie facsimile to vaguely formed pumpkin beast, and of course my personal favourite: indistinguishable polygons laying facedown in the grass.
The figurehead behind the project, who goes by the nom de plume Syber, swiftly transitioned from promotion to damage control, confessing that “The Pixelmon reveal was unacceptable. This is what our Pixelmon look like in-game. Our NFT art failed to reflect this”.
It’s almost as if dumb people convinced even dumber people to give them excessive amounts of money to bankroll the dumbest project. The term ‘neener neener neener’ comes to mind.
The backlash has been ugly and, by Syber’s admission, has involved threats of physical violence against himself, his team and his family. Should this be true — and we all know with all likelihood that it probably is — it is another disgusting indictment against the NFT community, and frankly, the gaming community at large.
Need I remind you of the death threats the developers of No Man’s Sky received over the absence of butterflies in the end product that had been seen in the trailer? I shan’t let you forget that, you hideous ghouls.
Ultimately, this Pixelmon debacle will likely prove a blip on the radar for both the project itself and the NFT horde that continue to spurt their intangible dollars in multiple directions. They’ll probably all make a lot of unearned money, developers and players alike, further warping the very concept of gaming into something as grotesque as this fucking pyjama lightbulb thing.
So to all of them, I say fuck you. I say this on behalf of people who still want to play games for fun, to unlock things as a reward for our labours, and to not have to be inundated with half-assed garbage that even a toddler would have second thoughts about.
I say this on behalf of all of the artists who have had their work shamelessly stolen and resold completely against their will. I say this on behalf of indie developers who are struggling to make ends meet on their dream project, only to see millions of dollars ejaculated into this miserable glory hole.
And most of all, I say this on behalf of me, who doubts you posers even know what ‘mon’ is short for in the first place.
The Pixelmon team did not respond to requests for comment.