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Call of Cthulhu Maker Chaosium Suspends NFT Program After Backlash

The publisher of the popular tabletop role-playing game Call of Cthulhu “suspended” plans to release additional NFTs in response to criticism of its decision to allow NFTs to be used on the VeVe platform. The company announced its decision today after a weekend of online discourse surrounding the July 2021 “fall” of Call of Cthulhu NFTs and the company’s hints on social media that more NFTs were on the way. Chaosium worked with licensee TYPE40 to produce NFTs on VeVe, an online platform that also works with a number of major companies and brands, including Disney (which owns Marvel, Star Wars and Pixar), Warner Bros. (which owns DC Comics), and CBS, owner of this website and the Star Trek brand.

For those who have avoided the NFT talk, NFT is shorthand for non-fungible tokens and are digital collectibles hosted on decentralized blockchain databases. Owning an NFT means claiming exclusive rights to a packet of information tied to a blockchain, which packet of information is often a “unique” form of digital art. Although proponents of NFTs claim they are the future of digital collectibles because they are not tied to a centralized server or company, the annual energy cost required to maintain popular blockchains like Bitcoin or Ethereum (the latter serving as the home of most NFTs) equals what Singapore uses in a year. NFTs and blockchain technology are increasingly scrutinized for their immense environmental cost, as well as the questionable cash flow and creditworthiness of the technology itself.

Chaosium’s decision is a relatively sudden change of course. Over the weekend, contacted Chaosium about its NFT program and the increasingly negative public opinion surrounding NFTs and received a response from Chaosium Vice President of Licensing Michael O’ Brien, defending the program. “We believe we have partnered responsibly to enter this new market for digital collectibles and have a model that protects the creators and artists involved,” O’Brien wrote to over the week. -end. “But we understand that digital (or physical) collectibles aren’t for everyone. We will never require anyone to own a digital collectible to enjoy a Chaosium product or game. Please note that Chaosium does not accept cryptocurrency payments for transactions.”

However, Chaosium President Rick Meints wrote a statement posted on the company’s website today, who noted that their decision was directly based on fan response. “We appreciate that a lot of our fans are angry and disappointed,” Meints said. “We hear you. Your concerns should be listened to and addressed. That is why, in cooperation with TYPE40 and VeVe, we have made the decision described above. We do not have another release planned on VeVe or any other NFT marketplace. We will never require anyone to own an NFT/digital collectible to enjoy a Chaosium product or game.”

Meints defended VeVe in his public statement, as did O’Brien to, stating that VeVe is an “ethical company” that uses blockchain technology “in legitimate, meaningful, and environmentally responsible ways.” Both statements included a link to a Medium article published in March 2021 by Ecomi, VeVe’s parent company, which explained how VeVe uses “blockchain technology which is >99% more energy efficient than Ethereum” and that Ecomi was also establishing a subsidy of “1 billion IMO” (a cryptocurrency created by Ecomi which is worth $0.0065 at press time meaning the grant would be worth $6.5 million) to offset the cost of producing NFTs which would go to various organizations without environmental profit. The Medium article also details the cost of minting NFTs on Ethereum, stating “as the price of Ethereum rises, the economic incentive to invest capital in more computing power increases, leading to increased consumption of electricity and carbon footprint, generating 57.6 kg of CO2 from the minting of a Single NFT.”

But while VeVe initially ran on the GoChain blockchain which operated using a method that consumes far less power than Ethereum, VeVe announced in May 2021 that it was moving its over 2.6 million NFTs to the Ethereum blockchain via the Immutable X “layer 2 protocol”. Immutable is a protocol that aggregates hundreds of transactions and creates proof that is stored on the blockchain. While this allows a platform like VeVe to log hundreds of NFT transactions together in a single transaction (reducing the cost of minting those individual NFTs to next to nothing), it still uses the incredibly power-consuming blockchain as the base of the platform. notes that Immutable purchases carbon credits to “offset” the energy it consumes and has additionally partnered with two nonprofit organizations to offset the carbon emissions created by the protocol. It doesn’t remove carbon emissions from the environment, but one of the nonprofits claims that Immutable is responsible for planting over 5,000 trees.