Rentals of the Digital Space

Art and currency have been around since the start of human civilization, but recently there has been the introduction of NFTs, a digital art that works off the technology of a digital currency. While that may sound cool, this technology is, well… stupid.


If you haven’t really heard of NFTs and are only seeing the “Bored Apes” plaguing Twitter profile pictures, NFTs are files of anything that can be digitized – pictures, soundbits, and the like – and sold for a steep price. The average price on most bidding sites is $500-900, but some collections can go for millions. Buying an NFT means that you get to say you own it, but you don’t get any of the copyrights to the image. In fact, buying an NFT gives you no more rights to the file than someone that hasn’t paid for it.


If you buy a digital art piece as an NFT, you get to download it, and post it somewhere. That’s all you can do. No more usage allowance than someone that just right-clicks it for free. So why would you ever want to buy an NFT?


Some claim it’s so they can support the artists. However, you can already pay artists through sites like DeviantArt or Patreon. If you have an artist you really like on DeviantArt, you can look at the art they made before and pay for a commission. With that, you can request a specific art piece that you can look at or use as a profile picture, if it has a watermark the artist can’t be ripped off, and best of all, it’s way cheaper! Most commissions are only around $25.


But here’s something really stupid. Before the new year, the president of AAA game publisher SquareEnix released a letter stating the company would use NFTs in their games for character and weapon skins, as opposed to selling it to everyone for a limited time on the game’s virtual store. With NFTs, one person can buy a skin and then lease it out to people that want to use it. This is needless landlord-ship of code in a game. This system creates a needless middleman that makes more money than SquareEnix themselves. SquareEnix’s President claims that the introduction of NFTs will cater more to their “play to contribute” audience, or the people that want to make the game more fun. And this audience, he claims, are synonymous with the people that want to “play to earn”. 


But there’s another problem. One that doesn’t just concern the digital world. NFTs work on a blockchain, a sort of digital receipt of purchases. This blockchain requires databank servers to date the blockchain back to its first purchase. The amount of servers in demand versus the supply manufacturers can handle has caused a shortage of the supplies needed, causing some companies – like SquareEnix – to have to shut down their online games because they can’t buy the servers they need to handle the online traffic. Not to mention the immense amount of electricity needed to run these servers and its air conditioning.


As our technology and society stands today, NFTs stand to do nothing but scam those who buy them. Until our world becomes synonymous with “Ready Player One”, the idea of NFTs should be shelved for the future.