Chaosium Suspends NFT Plans

After widespread backlash across social media, Chaosium has announced that it has suspended its plans for future NFT releases.

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All of us at Chaosium are deeply concerned by the issues raised around the VeVe digital collectable releases from last July. We take these concerns very seriously—our fans and the communities built around Chaosium are our lifeblood. We go back a long way, and that means a lot to us. We want to make sure you are comfortable with the way we do business.

While we address the concerns of the tabletop gaming community we have halted our plans for future NFT releases.

Let’s go through what’s happened to date:

  • In early 2019 we began discussions with VeVe. At the time NFTs and digital collectables were relatively unknown tech (at least in the TTRPG sphere).
  • VeVe is managed by long-time fans and collectors, and we completed multiple rounds of due diligence before deciding to move forward and granting VeVe a license to sell digital collectables based on our IP. It is notable that VeVe’s other NFT licensors include Disney, Marvel, DC Comics, Warner Bros., Star Trek, Star Wars, Cartoon Network, Adventure Time, James Bond, GhostBusters, and many other leading popular culture brands. VeVe even has a license from the United States Postal Service.
  • The environmental impact of VeVe's NFTs was crucial in our decision making. VeVe operates on a blockchain platform, (Immutable X), that is carbon neutral. The creation of VeVe NFTs, and their trading takes place “off-chain,” reducing the environmental footprint of VeVe NFTs by 99.9% when compared to those minted on Ethereum.
  • Chaosium publicized VeVe’s initial offering (July 2021) across all of our social channels. Our announcements didn’t receive much attention from the gaming press or TTRPG community, but the release was successful and well received, demonstrating an enthusiastic and sizable community of Cthulhu fans on VeVe.
  • With our licensee TYPE40, we built an NFT creation model that is protective and respectful of the artists involved—the digital collectables created for VeVe are all entirely new and original. The artists involved share fully in the proceeds of their sale.
However, we understand that a lot has changed since we started down this road in 2019. The issues relating to NFTs are increasingly complex and controversial. In recent months, the debate has become prominent and contentious. Bad actors in this sphere have received widespread coverage. Many people are justifiably baffled, incredulous, and deeply skeptical.

Based on both our research and experience with them, we believe that VeVe is an ethical company, pioneering a new digital community for collectors which uses this distributed ledger technology in a legitimate, meaningful, and environmentally responsible way.

We appreciate that many of our fans are angry and disappointed. We hear you. Your concerns must be listened to and addressed. That is why, in cooperation with TYPE40 and VeVe, we have made the decision outlined above. We do not have another scheduled release on VeVe or any other NFT marketplace. We will never require anyone to own an NFT/digital collectible to enjoy any Chaosium product or game.

Thank you for sharing your feedback. Thank you for patiently waiting for our reply. So much passion for what we do is a good thing. It’s been that way since 1975, and in this digital age we remain The Chaosium.
 

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

eyeheartawk

#1 Enworld Jerk™
I'll call this one good enough, for now. I really like NuChaosium's product. There are some valid criticisms with how they handled their not open open license, and their handling of the Cthulhu Reborn thing. But, they're also putting out all time great stuff now and they went back and made sure all the freelancers from the Krank era of Chaosium got paid, which they didn't need to do. Now I can look forward to that new version of Beyond the Mountains of Madness in 2024 (or whenever) and all the other good stuff.
 

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John Dallman

Adventurer
I get folks viewing NFTs as foolish, dangerous tech, unregulated, environmentally unsustainable, bad investments, and bad ideas. I agree with all of that. There are definitely a lot of bad actors in the NFT space, and a lot of foolish actors as well. But the step further than the entire NFT space is nothing but scams . . . that everyone involved is either the scammers or the scammed . . . I'm just not seeing it.
"At each poker table look around for the sucker. If you can't spot them, it's you."
 


Jer

Legend
Supporter
NFTs are new territory, the wild, digital west, but Chaosium's parternship with VeVe seemed innocent enough, well-intentioned, and most definitely not a "scam".
Simple question for determining this. What do you get when you buy an NFT? And what is the expected value you get from that thing.

For example - when I buy a Funko pop, I get a little bobble head statue to put on my desk. The value is whatever value I get when I look at a little bobble head guy on my desk. When I buy a comic book I get a story with art.

What do you get when you buy an NFT?
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Yeah, even though I bowed out of the discussion, still read through many of the posts. Still don't agree.

I didn't expect you to agree. I have a different point here.

Imagine two people, A and B, who are having backyard barbecues. At each place, a bottle of charcoal starter fluid falls into the fire, and a pillar of flame goes up.

Person A calls the fire department.

Person B closes the lid of their grill, and grabs a fire extinguisher.

These two people are in fundamental agreement about what is happening, but one has a more severe reaction than the other. You might say one of them is over-reacting.

However, you and others are NOT in fundamental agreement on what is happening with NFTs. Assessing the reaction should be done in the context of what they think is happening, not in the context of what you think is happening.

I submit to you that given what they think, their reaction (which is, let us be clear, just talking about it online), seems pretty mild in the realm of reactions. And it has, for now, handled the issue with a minimum of real harm to anyone involved.

Or, do you think just talking about it is too much? Talking about stuff is an over-reaction, to you?
 

But the step further than the entire NFT space is nothing but scams . . . that everyone involved is either the scammers or the scammed . . . I'm just not seeing it. I'm certainly not seeing anything wrong with Chaosium's canceled NFT plans.
With regards to Veve, I would say their business model seems predatory in the same way that video game monetization and loot boxes are potentially predatory. As I understand it, to own a Veve digital collectible, you have to convert real money in "gems," which is their internal currency. Then you wait for one of their "drops" in which you can purchase a digital collectible. These are similar to loot boxes in that you don't know the "rarity"of the item you purchase until after. You might have gotten a common version or an ultra rare version. Of course, the rarity is artificially produced scarcity. Then these items can gain in value on the Veve secondary market, where you can buy or sell your collectibles to gems. But there is no way to cash out these gems back into real currency.

So it's predatory in two ways
1. The use of loot box style gambling mechanics, particularly in products that are aimed at children (Disney, etc), have been shown to exploit those with compulsive gambling problems and children who manage to spend their parents money.

2. Through the artificial rarity of these items and the secondary market, they are ostensibly selling users investments, things that can increase in value. But there is no possibility to sell these investments for real world currency, you can only get more digital "gems."

Whether you think the above is predatory will come down to your view of consumer exploitation and responsibility. The traditional view might be that people with compulsive gambling disorders ought to be the only ones responsible for their decisions. Similarly, if others mistakenly view these products as good investments, then only they are to blame when their investing strategy fails. But I'm skeptical that the companies involved--from video game companies to veve--don't know exactly what they are doing here.

As Frank said: "We used to make s___ in this country, build s___. Now we just put our hand in the next guy's pocket."
 

I spent so much wasted time on Twitter today slapfighting these clowns in that thread, almost none of which seemed to know what Chaosium actually makes and sells. The one guy who got closest seemed to think they sold board games. Most of them just evaded or didn’t answer when pressed. Every single use case they tried to outline as a benefit of NFTs I had to point out were already being done fine without blockchain for years or were unrealistic pipe dreams.

Everything is an investment to them. Everything has to be able to be resold for a profit. Nobody seems to understand weird concepts like “joy” or “relaxation” or “having friends.” It’s so exhausting. 😩
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
If you want a funny/sad experience, start scrolling through this website-


Of importance, I was surprised to see that Chaosium made the cut! That's right, our little hobby is on there now. ;)
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
Everything is an investment to them. Everything has to be able to be resold for a profit. Nobody seems to understand weird concepts like “joy” or “relaxation” or “having friends.” It’s so exhausting. 😩
Yeah this is definitely the mindset of a lot of folks. If it weren't for the various negative impacts I'd actually be happy to let these folks go off and trade imaginary collectibles in their blockchain. It would keep them out of actual collectible markets where these kind of folks just drive up the prices for the folks who aren't looking to buy them as an investment.
 

J.Quondam

CR 1/8
Everything is an investment to them. Everything has to be able to be resold for a profit. Nobody seems to understand weird concepts like “joy” or “relaxation” or “having friends.” It’s so exhausting. 😩
This!
Setting aside the technical, ethical, and economic issues surrounding this stuff, what disgusts me most is that it's all driven by an attitude that everything must be "monetized"; that everything should be regarded through the lens of "investment"; and even implicitly that it's okay to rip off someone else because "caveat emptor, ngmi!"
It is exhausting, and disheartening.
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
If you want a funny/sad experience, start scrolling through this website-


Of importance, I was surprised to see that Chaosium made the cut! That's right, our little hobby is on there now. ;)
If you scroll down they also have the mtgDAO brouhahah from last week earlier this week (my god was that this week?) so the ccg crowd also gets to be in the news.

As you say that site is simultaneously hilarious and depressing. The story about Samsung creating a sustainability themed VR scavenger hunt where players earn NFT badges on Etherium (one of the worst offenders when it comes to power consumption) when they complete tasks like planting virtual trees and picking up virtual garbage is the kind of thing that you might have found in an early 90s cyberpunk novel.

(Also if you browse that site with noscript turned on they have a link to a "Web 1.0" version of the site, which I appreciate!)
 

Yeah this is definitely the mindset of a lot of folks. If it weren't for the various negative impacts I'd actually be happy to let these folks go off and trade imaginary collectibles in their blockchain. It would keep them out of actual collectible markets where these kind of folks just drive up the prices for the folks who aren't looking to buy them as an investment.
Exactly. They don’t grasp that it’s the destructive tech we object to, not the idea of it existing. If NFTs were 100% clean and didn’t interface with crypto/blockchain stuff? Knock yourself out. Trade all day. Have fun.

But that’s not how this works. And “carbon offsets” are just handwaving hokum. It’s like promising to have a baby for each adult you throw into a blender.
 

This!
Setting aside the technical, ethical, and economic issues surrounding this stuff, what disgusts me most is that it's all driven by an attitude that everything must be "monetized"; that everything should be regarded through the lens of "investment"; and even implicitly that it's okay to rip off someone else because "caveat emptor, ngmi!"
It is exhausting, and disheartening.
I had a guy ask me today “wouldn’t you prefer your Chaosium books appreciate in value rather than depreciate?” I told him since I have no intentions to sell them it literally does not matter either way to me. He could NOT comprehend that I felt that way. Just sad and rather scary.
 

Teo Twawki

Coffee ruminator
So . . . NFTs are all scams like Poker is always a scam? Okay.
I took the initial comment to be aimed at the suckers who buy into the idea of a scam as being akin to the suckers who think they're good at poker but aren't. Inferring from that comment that poker is a scam like NFTs is likely a misreading of the comment.

i.e.
• I'm a sucker who believes NFTs are legitimate. Wow! I gotta own that digital nothing! The seller knows I'm a sucker and laughs while taking my money.
• I'm an awesome poker player! I sit down at the table and look at each person there to spot the sucker but can't figure out who it is... The other players eye me knowing I'm the sucker. I soon leave the game--broke--wishing I'd stuck with purchasing my incredibly unique one-of-a-kind priceless valuable digital nothings.
 


Dire Bare

Legend
Simple question for determining this. What do you get when you buy an NFT? And what is the expected value you get from that thing.

For example - when I buy a Funko pop, I get a little bobble head statue to put on my desk. The value is whatever value I get when I look at a little bobble head guy on my desk. When I buy a comic book I get a story with art.

What do you get when you buy an NFT?
Heh . . . I like Funko Pops about as much as I like NFTs . . .

If I purchased a digital Cthulhu statue from the Chaosium/VeVe partnership (I think they did sell some before pulling the plug?) . . . I would be purchasing a license, a token, for a digital statue of Cthulhu that I can display through the VeVe app. There were some augmented reality capabilities of the app as well, so I could display my statue on my front lawn . . . digitally . . .

I get the same value you mention for the bobbleheads. I get to put it on my (virtual) shelf and admire it. You can resell your Funko to somebody else if you want, not sure if you can do that with the Chaosium NFTs. It's all art, via different mediums. Owning a digital Cthulhu statue holds no value for YOU, it holds no value to ME, but that doesn't mean it holds no value to others. Just like your Funkos . . . I hate those things, and they hold no artistic value to me, but I don't begrudge my buddy who's obsessed with them . . .

Do you need NFTs to do something like this? No. Were the terms of what you would be purchasing laid out clearly? Yes. If VeVe goes belly-up, would I lose all of my NFT art pieces purchased through them? Probably.

I'm not trying to defend the Call of Cthulhu NFTs as a good deal! But a scam? No. In my mind, that requires deceit and misdirection from Chaosium and/or VeVe . . . which I'm not seeing here.
 

Dire Bare

Legend
I didn't expect you to agree. I have a different point here.

Imagine two people, A and B, who are having backyard barbecues. At each place, a bottle of charcoal starter fluid falls into the fire, and a pillar of flame goes up.

Person A calls the fire department.

Person B closes the lid of their grill, and grabs a fire extinguisher.

These two people are in fundamental agreement about what is happening, but one has a more severe reaction than the other. You might say one of them is over-reacting.

However, you and others are NOT in fundamental agreement on what is happening with NFTs. Assessing the reaction should be done in the context of what they think is happening, not in the context of what you think is happening.

I submit to you that given what they think, their reaction (which is, let us be clear, just talking about it online), seems pretty mild in the realm of reactions. And it has, for now, handled the issue with a minimum of real harm to anyone involved.

Or, do you think just talking about it is too much? Talking about stuff is an over-reaction, to you?
I'm not frustrated with folks who think NFTs are bad news, or even have the opinion that they are scams. There's been a lot of good posts in the various threads on this explaining the problems with NFTs, and why some folks are of the opinion the entire category is scammy. I don't agree with that position, but I can respect those who arrived at it logically.

But there are a LOT of posts in these threads that are super emotional about it, name-calling me and others who disagree, and yes, over-reacting to something that just doesn't have much impact on most folks. It's the insistence that, because I and others disagree, we're more than WRONG, we're fools, we're apologists, we're naive or ignorant, we're sealions . . . yadda yadda.

I may have missed a post, but I haven't seen any evidence at all that the Chaosium/VeVe partnership is scammy or dishonest in any way, shape, or form. A stupid product idea? Sure. I provided a link to an article about an independent pair of artists who leveraged NFTs of their own cartoon ducks to save their home (Dastardly Ducks) . . . I might not have the full story on that one, but again, it seems NFTs can be used for something other than evil, but good artists promoting their own art. No one addressed that one directly (or if so, I missed it).

Anyway . . . I'm not going to be purchasing any NFTs anytime soon, and I'm not super worried about anyone else doing so. Anyone thinking about purchasing an NFT should definitely educate themselves about the issues with the tech, and read the fine print on whatever deal they are thinking about . . . . but if they go in with open eyes, purchase a digital Cthulhu statue to display on their augmented reality lawn, and are happy with that purchase . . . . I've got no issues with Chaosium and VeVe providing that service. The calls for boycotts I find overwrought (but, hey, fair enough), especially the voices who are demanding a firmer anti-NFT stance from Chaosium before ending their boycott . . . .
 

Dire Bare

Legend
I took the initial comment to be aimed at the suckers who buy into the idea of a scam as being akin to the suckers who think they're good at poker but aren't. Inferring from that comment that poker is a scam like NFTs is likely a misreading of the comment.

i.e.
• I'm a sucker who believes NFTs are legitimate. Wow! I gotta own that digital nothing! The seller knows I'm a sucker and laughs while taking my money.
• I'm an awesome poker player! I sit down at the table and look at each person there to spot the sucker but can't figure out who it is... The other players eye me knowing I'm the sucker. I soon leave the game--broke--wishing I'd stuck with purchasing my incredibly unique one-of-a-kind priceless valuable digital nothings.
Certainly, folks get taken in poker games. There are sharks who swim in those waters. And, of course folks have already been taken in by scammy NFT deals. Chummed, shark-infested waters.

Doesn't make the game of Poker a scam, or anyone who thinks they are good at Poker the "sucker". Doesn't make all NFTs scams, or those who sell or purchase them all "suckers" or "scammers".

This is the over-reaction in these threads that bugs me. The leap from "we disagree" to "you're wrong and you're an idiot, we've laid it out so clearly for you".
 

Certainly, folks get taken in poker games. There are sharks who swim in those waters. And, of course folks have already been taken in by scammy NFT deals. Chummed, shark-infested waters.

Doesn't make the game of Poker a scam, or anyone who thinks they are good at Poker the "sucker". Doesn't make all NFTs scams, or those who sell or purchase them all "suckers" or "scammers".

This is the over-reaction in these threads that bugs me. The leap from "we disagree" to "you're wrong and you're an idiot, we've laid it out so clearly for you".

I think it's worth noting that you're spending a lot of time talking about how unconvinced you are that it's a scam, that it's predatory, etc. but you aren't actually offering any counter-arguments that are specific to NFTs, crypto, etc, other than, Jeez, I don't really get this (despite the fundamentals being explained over and over, succinctly at times and in excruciating detail at others), but hey guys.... overreacting much?

So produce some facts, some examples, something like what NFT critics have, including in this (and the other) thread. Otherwise, I mean, we get it. You're unimpressed by the arguments. But why bother repeating that? You're not anti, you're not pro, you're waiting and seeing. Cool. Duly noted. Why continue to broadcast your abstention, and then act appalled when people get frustrated--as one does when being trolled.
 

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