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Game Studio Shuns 'Worms' Maker Team17 Over Ethereum NFT Plans

Indie game studio Aggro Crab says it won’t work with Team17 anymore following Worms NFT news, which was met with largely negative reactions.

4 min read
Team17 is making NFTs based on the Worms video game series. Image: Team17

In brief

  • Game publisher Team17 revealed plans to create Ethereum-based NFTs inspired by the Worms franchise.
  • The announcement has received significant backlash on social media, with one game developer saying it will no longer work with Team17.

Team17, an independent video game publisher, announced today that it has partnered with Reality Gaming Group (RGG) to launch NFTs based on the long-running Worms video game franchise. And as with other recent video game-related NFT reveals, the news was met with significant backlash from players and developers alike.

The MetaWorms project will feature artwork from the Worms series’ 26-year history. The Worms franchise has sold more than 75 million games across numerous platforms since first debuting on Windows PC in late 1995. No release date or price point has been announced for the Worms-themed NFTs.

An NFT acts like a deed of ownership to a provably scarce digital item, including artwork, collectibles, and interactive video game items. The NFT market exploded in 2021, reaching $23 billion in trading volume per data from DappRadar. However, NFTs have faced significant scrutiny, in part due to the environmental impact of Ethereum, the leading network for NFTs.

The NFT collectibles will be minted on Reality Gaming Group’s Digital Asset Trading (DAT) platform. DAT is Reality Gaming Group’s custom sidechain scaling solution for Ethereum, which offloads the vast majority of transactions to a more energy-efficient blockchain than Ethereum’s own mainnet.

Reality Gaming Group will also contribute a portion of sales to Coin4Planet, which is building vertical worm beds to regenerate food waste into natural fertilizer with an aim to reduce carbon emissions.

Despite RGG’s “environmentally friendly” claims, many gamers aren’t buying it. As with other recent gaming-related NFT projects from Ubisoft Quartz to S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2, the MetaWorms announcement was met with similar claims on social media that all NFTs kill the environment, amid other complaints.

The backlash reached a fever pitch this afternoon when indie developer Aggro Crab—which developed the Team17-published game, Going Under—tweeted that it would no longer work with the publisher if the NFT initiative continues ahead as planned.

“We believe NFTs cannot be environmentally friendly, or useful, and really are just an overall fucking grift,” the statement reads, in part. “Needless to say, we will not be working with them on further titles, and encourage other indie developers to do the same unless this decision is reversed.”

Decrypt reached out to Team17 for comment on its NFT plans, but the publisher did not immediately respond.

A Team17 representative told Eurogamer that the NFT project came about via a licensing arrangement, similar to one used for physical merchandise, and that the publisher has no plans of integrating in-game NFTs or implementing token-driven gameplay models.

"Team17 has no plans to introduce NFTs or play-to-earn NFT mechanics into any of its indie games label titles,” the spokesperson told Eurogamer.

The vocally negative response is similar to those that other traditional video game publishers and developers have faced in recent weeks when announcing NFT plans.

Ubisoft has been the most prominent example with its launch of the Tezos-based Ubisoft Quartz in-game NFT items platform, which began with the online shooter, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint. Despite the backlash, Ubisoft revealed that it would continue on with the initiative.

Also recently, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 publisher GSC Game World canceled plans to add NFTs to the upcoming game, while gaming-centric chat app Discord axed a planned NFT wallet integration feature following user complaints. Major game publishers such as Square Enix and Konami have likewise faced criticism after revealing their own respective NFT initiatives.

Despite some resistance from the traditional video game community, NFT-driven video games have gained steam in recent months. Play-to-earn monster battler Axie Infinity has generated nearly $4 billion worth of NFT trading volume, for example, while upcoming metaverse game The Sandbox has sold hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of NFT virtual land plots.

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