“Gasoline on the flame”: Sydney startup Immutable partners with GameStop on NFT marketplace

Immutable founders

Immutable co-founders James and Robbie Ferguson. Source: supplied.

Aussie startup Immutable has secured a partnership with GameStop, the NSYE-listed brick-and-mortar gaming store at the centre of last year’s short-selling ‘meme-stock’ saga.

GameStop will use the Immutable X platform to power its non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace, expected to launch later this year.

Immutable and GameStop are also launching a US$100 million ($140 million) fund to provide grants to game developers and studios to build on the platform.

Ultimately, the marketplace will allow users to launch developer-focused NFT gaming projects. That means creators will be able to mint and trade in-game items for gamers, all in a carbon-neutral environment.

For gamers, it adds an additional element to games, including the potential of economic gain.

For Sydney-grown Immutable, it’s another distribution avenue for players, gamers and businesses to build on the platform. And it’s something that puts the business on the global gaming map.

“GameStop has one of the largest and most evangelistic fan bases in the world today, they have a history of cool heritage in the gaming industry,” Immutable co-founder Robbie Ferguson tells SmartCompany.

“Partnering with them … is going to help us fundamentally onboard some of the highest impact games into NFTs over the next year.”

This is just the latest big win for the Sydney startup. In September last year, Immutable raised $82 million in a Series B round led by specialist gaming and e-sports investor BITKRAFT Ventures, along with King River Capital.

Aussie VCs AirTree Ventures and Reinventure also contributed to the raise.

The GameStop saga

Never has GameStop’s ‘evangelistic’ fan base been so vocal than in January 2021, when the business was targeted by short sellers, causing fury among fans and — crucially — hobby traders on the WallStreetBets Reddit thread.

Reddit users rallied behind the stock, driving the price up and leaving the short-seller hedge funds out of pocket.

From less than US$20, GameStop’s share price ultimately hit a peak of $482.95. Today, the stock is trading at about US$99 ($138).

The saga made global headlines and led to chaos for retail trading platforms such as Robinhood and Aussie business Stake.

It also brought the beleaguered store back into the public eye, giving it a renewed relevance.

Are NFTs going mainstream?

The partnership serves to build on the growing NFT trend. The digital tokens have been used to prove ownership of anything from digital art to sushi restaurants or agave plants — and the tequila they will one day produce.

That plays into the Web3 revolution, which is also creeping into the mainstream.

Just this week, AirTree announced its $50 million Web3 fund, for investment in decentralised finance and NFT solutions, as well as decentralised autonomous organisations (DAOs).

The fact that a business the size of GameStop is going all-in on NFTs is significant, Ferguson says.

It offers an avenue for mid-market game developers to genuinely build better experiences for player, with the potential of economic benefit too.

We could be at a turning point of NFTs going mainstream in gaming, and elsewhere.

“Someone like GameStop is going to be gasoline on the flame of what we’re trying to do for gaming.”


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