The more I think about NFTs, the more annoyed I get
I’ve been ranting about NFTs for 2 weeks now, and while this revelation may not surprise everyone (I have always said I can be slow to a conclusion), the more I think about the state of NFTs now, the clearer it becomes:
Maybe someday someone will come up with a valid platform that only NFTs could solve. Right now, nothing is being done with them that couldn’t have been done without the crypto impact on the environment, or the added costs that come with storing anything on the blockchain.
Digital ownership of gaming items with the ability to trade and resell? Steam has been doing it for like a decade. Blizzard also tried (and failed) with their short-lived Diablo 3 “real money marketplace”. None of this is new.
“But we can carry digital items with us between games!” That was possible the whole time as well. The technologies for this have existed for longer than a lot of these companies have. If you are tracking digital ownership of items between games made by the same company, they could have been doing that the whole time. They didn’t want to, until the NFT bandwagon came to town. And tracking digital ownership of items between games owned by different companies? Same deal, only they have to work together to make it happen.
That’s true of centralized digital ownership tracking as well as decentralized. Just because you bought a CoD rifle skin from Activision doesn’t mean it’s just going to show up in Destiny. Both companies have to work together to make it happen, just like they could have been working together this whole time to make it happen, and haven’t. Why would they change things now?
Decentralized record of ownership is also a double edged sword. Click a bad email link and get your credit card or bank account hacked? You can get that money back with some paperwork, because the banks can verify who you are physically, and your account balance is just a line on their big database. Easy fix! With no centralized authority on the blockchain (which is the whole point), there is no fraud protection. Transactions that occur and are recorded on the blockchain are permanent, and by definition, legitimate. There are no rollbacks, no corrections, no getting that ape picture back because, as far as everyone involved is concerned, it is in another wallet now where it should be according to the all-mighty blockchain of events.
In theory, NFTs, the blockchain and cryptocurrency put the power of commerce in everyone’s hands. In reality, it’s like if everyone’s bank account balances were public record, accessible by anyone and anywhere. Just because the 7/11 down the street can see your balance doesn’t mean they’re going to let you take money from the register and just update your tab. The marketplaces have to agree to participate in the first place, and they don’t exactly have a great record of doing that so far.