Epic Games presents: Grift


June 7, 2022

Read to the end for exclusive local daytime television footage — the sort of insider access only Culture H0R can deliver. 

Chad & El Prof


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  • In a true embodiment of the trustless, transparent utopia web3 represents, Coinbase has announced it will freeze hiring and rescind pending job offers in the wake of the crypto bear market (and a $430M Q1 loss).
  • Other major crypto trading platforms Gemini and Robin Hood have instituted sweeping staff layoffs. 
  • In unrelated news, Coinbase’s newsletter continues to tout ‘significant upside’ to the markets, which, yeah, let’s definitely take their word for it!

Epic Games presents: Grift

Epic Games

Epic Games’ — your profanity-spewing and possibly-radicalized thirteen year old brother’s favorite video game publisher — debuted their long-awaited foray onto the blockchain yesterday. Grit is a ‘play to earn battle royale’ developed by Gala Games or Team Grit or some kid in his mom’s basement who got a hold of the PUBG code. (Unclear.) But, either way, it’s real, it’s an historic first of a supposed many NFT-based games headed for the Epic Games store, and, in the typically unbiased words of Kotaku, it ‘looks like shit’.

Indeed, Grit‘s graphics would’ve struck me as bad even if I were playing it on my SEGA Dreamcast back in 2001. (The YouTube promotional trailer can’t generate a thumbnail wider than 480 px.) Makes sense, considering they were acquired royalty free and practically free. Turns out, the 3D character models marketed as limited edition NFTs appear to be asset flips available for $30 on Unreal Engine. The airdrop, for reference, was given as a reward to attendees of Galaverse, a conference so ‘much much larger than any one event’ it cost $8000 to attend. This Caroline Calloway caliber price gouging is likely indicative of what’s to come, with reports suggesting it may cost a cool $600 to even play the game in the first place. 

As a standalone example, I’d be content to hate watch one of the hilariously sincere streams of the Grit beta footage and get back to my Red Dead Redemption replay. But Epic Games’ marquee product Fortnite still boasts over 20M daily users, and even if it only nets a fraction of that, there’s a decent chance Grit will drag pay-to-earn blockchain games into the mainstream. Which is as good a place as any to dust off the old soapbox and remind whoever’s in reading range that theoretically monetizable games are only actually monetizable when they’re enjoyable to play.

Even huge P2E games like Axie Infinity — at one point a major player in multiple sovereign states’ economies — need more than the promise of profit to attract a player base. This thread breaks down the economics behind keeping play-to-earn games afloat really well, but the gist is, P2E usership is primarily based on speculation. Users pump time and money into growing accounts in the hopes they can be sold for exponentially more in the long run. Ignoring the fact that they might jump ship if such a secondary market fails to materialize, speculative players will only hang around to max out the stats on their account, at which point, they will have maxed out their potential profits, too, and it’s time to liquidate. For a P2E game to have legs, it needs players to buy what the speculators are selling — people who are there to play, not just to earn. 

We saw this in the case of Axie Infinity, which was already hemorrhaging users before a $600M hack cut its legs off. And we’ll see it again in Grit, if it even gets that far. But if it were my money, I’d avoid these CGA cowboys entirely and cop the Elegant Suit for $70 fake video game dollars instead. Much more bang for your buck. 

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Image: the guy behind the shitshow we're about to discuss

BlockFi, a ‘crypto lending startup’ (most famous for its insane APYs or $100M SEC fine, depending on who you ask) is totally not a Ponzi, according to the founder who blocks everyone who makes that accusation. And it’s not a bank, according to its newly compliant Terms and Services. So what is it? Not a viable business, either, turns out, as it seeks to raise a down round valued at $1B. Sounds like a lot, maybe, but it’s 1/3 of what it was worth a year ago, and 1/5 of what they said it would be worth in advance of this round. Which raises the question, how much money do you have to throw into a volcano before you realize only the ashes will blow back in your face when it erupts?

In an ironic twist of fate, this is the very same company with whom I made my bones navigating crypto compliance laws years ago, while shilling digital ad and machine learning products at Google. I don’t mean to slander an old client, but it’s clear to me now I’m cursed to give good advice and watch it go unheeded for the rest of my life. There’s a lot can be said about me. But, being a full-time doomsday prophet and all, there’s on thing they can’t say: ‘You didn’t warn me.’ 

To be fair, there’s no doubt marketing crypto-related enterprises online without accidentally misleading consumers and/or committing fraud was, is, and will remain a tough needle to thread. (Don’t believe us, check the Sn0b floor price.) Regulations are already suffocating and will only get more stringent as time goes on. But, as it turns out, the way to stitch together a company with staying power in spite of them is not to close your eyes tight and pretend the government will go away. 

Try the same strategy with BlockFi, though? It just might work.

NFTs, explained to a (9)5 year old

Image: CH

Culture H0R is entering the meatspace. Tomorrow, our very own El Prof will venture onto daytime network television to shill NFTs to househusbands and retirees. Don’t ask us how we’re qualified — we still don’t know. But we will happily subject you to our messaging regardless. So, if your grandma saw a confident white guy delivering the following script in between General Hospitals reruns, would she invest in crypto? 

NFTs sound more intimidating than they are. It stands for non-fungible token, which is just software engineer speak for a unique identifier on a blockchain database. The blockchain is a cloud-based transaction log. You pay using crypto tokens. You’re paying, for the most part, to use and access NFTs. 

You can think of an NFT like a serial number, or your social security. It’s a bunch of characters used to classify something unique, but in this case, it’s a piece of digital information. In other words, an NFT is a receipt, a way to prove you ‘own’ something online. 

NFTs have been used to sell artwork, membership, music, writing, social media posts, even memes. They are an important part of many modern startups’ strategies. But we believe, in the long term, they could be far more impactful for small businesses.

In theory, NFTs can also be used to secure ownership of data. This would force big tech software companies to rethink the way they do business. No more shady privacy policies or profiting off your personal information. NFTs could put the governance of your data back in your hands. Not only could this save you money on software-related expenses — we believe future companies may even pay you for your business’ data.

For any small business owners out there, you should be excited at the prospect of NFTs. And to any entrepreneurs working in software specifically, I’d direct the question back to you: How might a shift in control over data affect your business model?

Lmk. But, like, seriously. It’s one thing to come off as jackasses in front of all y’all. The 50-64 demographic of the greater New Orleans area is a whole other thing.


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