Take a card from your opponent's deck and watch the world burn. Controversy has circled rising NFT card game Parallel since announcing last week that it has added one of the best-known Hearthstone streamers as an ambassador and spokesperson for the game.

Parallel announced on Friday that Thijs "Thijs" Molendijk, an esports pro and the third-largest Hearthstone streamer by average views, would support the crypto trading card game. Both games revolve around building decks of digital cards and competing against online rivals, but unlike Blizzard’s Hearthstone, Parallel is built around optional Ethereum NFTs.

While the past Hearthstone European Champion received a warm welcome from the Parallel community, all hell broke loose in the scene Thijs made his name in. It started on Twitter, where anonymous commenters took potshots calling him a “sellout,” or saying that “hopefully that bag is worth the reputation hit.”

Thijs took to social media to explain why he believes crypto gaming has a future. He first acknowledged that crypto has a bad reputation from the scams and influencer culture that dominated in the industry “2-3 years ago,” in his view.


But he believes it’s different now. When applied to card games, he believes the ability to openly trade your collection is huge for the genre—and recreates an element of physical trading card games that Web2 video game recreations can’t deliver in their current form.

“With real life cards, you are able to gift/trade (or sell) your cards. I have always liked that,” the popular streamer said. “With Magic you can do this, but why for the online version of Hearthstone/Magic/Yu-Gi-Oh is it not possible?”


Decrypt’s GG named Parallel as our 2023 game of the year, citing it as a prime example of how crypto games can be as compelling and well-crafted as a “Web2” alternative.

Still, there is a clear divide online amongst gamers in this case. On one side, crypto supporters with NFT profile pictures responded agreeing that Web3 positively enables the trading element of trading card games. On the other side, traditional gaming fans got their pitchforks out, claiming that Thijs is only saying such things because he’s being paid.

Professional Heartstone caster Alexander Baguley, also known as Raven Casts, put out a warning to any potential new crypto gamers to not focus on the money. His tweet about gaming influencers promoting NFT and crypto games helped kickstart the conflict between communities.

“I think a majority of people get into crypto games for the dream of making money from them,” Raven Casts told Decrypt’s GG on Tuesday. “From the various games I see in this space, there is a lot of talk about the [dollar] value you can earn and a lot less talk about the game itself.”

Fueling the fire was a reply to Raven’s tweet from Hearthstone game designer Chadd “Celestalon” Nervig, who wrote with an apparently sarcastic tone, “But Raven, I've made $ off the people below me on the pyramid!”

Hearthstone critics in the crypto world contend that the game’s Web2 model, in which players spend money on digital cards that are locked to the game and can’t be traded, is more troubling than one like Parallel’s—in which NFT-based cards can be traded on the open market. 


The play-to-earn model played a huge role in crypto gaming during the last bull run. However, leading examples like Axie Infinity showed how these financial models are often unsustainable, leaving a sour taste in the mouth of many gamers.

That said, Parallel isn’t primarily a play-to-earn game. Instead, it is a free-to-play game with an optional NFT element to the game, though players who have NFTs can earn token rewards. But since the NFTs are optional and not essential to the experience, a lot of blockchain gaming advocates pushed back on Raven’s skepticism.

“I honestly don’t want anyone in the investment side of things.” Mr. Gone, pseudonymous co-founder of Parallel, said on Twitter (aka X). “I made Parallel to be a game for other card game nerds like me.”

It appears that a lot of hatred from the traditional gaming community is due to crypto games trying to compete with their favorite “Web2” titles—and the skepticism that entails.

“The community seems to be against Parallel because of the way it was brought to their attention.” Raven explained. “Multiple big names in the Hearthstone scene posting about suddenly being ambassadors whilst not having #ad or #sponsored in their posts inherently makes people feel like they are hiding something.”

In the past week, three other notable Hearthstone streamers (Tylerootd, RDU, and FenoHS) have been announced as Parallel ambassadors. While some gamers apparently feel threatened by this, others believe it’s a great marketing strategy for the NFT card game.

“New games need to find ways to grow, and to bring some of the biggest Hearthstone streamers or pros to the game ensures lots of new people hear about it,” said BabyBear, a pseudonymous Hearthstone content creator who is also a partner for NFT card game Champions.

“The social media debate has been very good for Parallel and Champions as well,” she added, “with a lot of new people coming to the game for the first time.”


Edited by Andrew Hayward

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