How Pixelmon Symbolizes the Best and Worst of the NFT Market

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NFT enthusiasts are endlessly searching for the next crypto project to explode in popularity, validating their early investment and generating mind-blowing profits off of a relatively small purchase. When it happens, investors praise NFTs and claim they’re the future. But what happens when it doesn’t? According to the recently launched Pixelmon NFT project, outrage, accusations, and potential theft. 

The Pixelmon Debacle

Led by the anonymous @Syberer on Twitter, Pixelmon was promised to be the Pokemon of the metaverse. A title allowing players to gather and catch creatures littered around the world before using them to trade with and battle other players. 

The project garnered obscene levels of hype, raising $70 million in its pre-sale that ended in February. With Syberer and the Pixelmon Twitter account promoting the pre-sale via high-resolution creature designs built in the Minecraft-inspired voxel style, investors had everything to hope for. However, when Pixelmon holders finally got a look at their minted NFTs on February 26th, there was little hope to be had.

Straying far from the creative designs used to promote Pixelmon, the revealed art was low-res, blocky, and all-around amateur. Investors were understandably angry, taking to Twitter to air out their complaints. 

Syberer responded, apologizing for the lackluster reveal and promising that the in-game assets would look like the promotional material and, according to Cnet, noting that $2 million would go toward redesigning said assets. Assets that users have already paid for mind you, among other assurances. 

While that’s all fine and good, it’s important to note that Syberer and the team already have the money. At this point, they can make all of the promises in the world to try and raise more funds and gain back community respect, but they can just as likely disappear with little to no consequences. 

The Power of the Free Market

Now, as unfortunate as it is, a situation like Pixelmon is exactly what the current NFT market allows if not fetishizes.

The idea of an industry in which anyone can crowdfund their creative vision without an intermediary or any regulatory stand-ins is an exciting one. Many Pixelmon investors went in hoping to be a part of something big: the first AAA metaverse game. 

However, many also went in hoping for an NFT that would skyrocket in value. A risk that Pixelmon will struggle to deliver on if its current market price is anything to go by. And regardless of whether or not Syberer and team ‘deserve’ that $70 million, investors willingly provided it despite the project’s many blatant warning signs. Ones that investors ignored to buy into the hype and empty promises.

First off, the Pixelmon documents are missing key tokenomics, noting that while Ethereum is slow and expensive, the project will introduce its own scaling solution. However, it fails to introduce that solution while also revealing there’s not even a whitepaper yet. The documents otherwise detail general game mechanics but don’t go anywhere near as in-depth as they should. 

Secondly, Syberer themselves has tweeted some pretty questionable stuff regarding the Pixelmon project. In late December, they tweeted that Pixelmon “is the next blue chip. This is financial advice. Don’t do your own research.” Whether or not that’s a joke, these are statements a project leader should never make. In fact, this tweet could very well lead to a lawsuit.

The Pixelmon team did release a gameplay trailer in February, though it was hardly anything impressive. This trailer featured a crudely animated character riding a horse, a decently intriguing world, and almost no actual Pixelmon. Essentially, this trailer shows what looks like an Alpha of an indie game years away from completion.

Running on Empty Promises

In reality, while Pixelmon promised a lot, it’s really no different from any other NFT project promising some sort of game utility in the next few years. Only, many of those projects seem transparent regarding their NFTs and aren’t causing social media outrages.

Whether the Pixelmon project is a ‘scam’ or not, it’s something that this industry allows and even thrives on. Many investors appear happy to throw money at a project based on promises alone, and in a space where regulation is basically nonexistent, this is the risk they run.

Credit where it’s due, Syberer has said that they will be carrying on with the project and are “committed to delivering on” their long-term vision despite the outrage. Whether or not that actually happens remains to be seen. 


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