GameStop NFT platform goes live amid company-wide layoffs

The long-awaited NFT marketplace that was first teased in May 2021 is now open to the public for beta testing, just a few days after the company made drastic staff cuts across departments.

Currently, the marketplace hosts projects that run on the Ethereum mainnet and Loopring, a layer 2 scaling solution. Previously, GameStop flirted with other technology providers, announcing a partnership with L2 Immutable X that was already used in several GameFi projects, like Ember Sword, Guild of Guardians, and Gods Unchained. However, the support for the Immutable X hasn’t been rolled up yet, promised to be “coming soon.”

The beta version of the platform focuses mainly on the artwork, but GameStop’s ambitions go further, as it aims to become the main player in the NFT gaming segment. The gaming industry opens endless possibilities for non-fungible tokens, as they can represent in-game items, skins, weapons, characters, maps, and much more. And all these things can be traded on marketplaces for crypto, providing a source of income for the players in developing countries, who are often willing to resign from their current jobs to play NFT games full time.

GameStop signaled its intentions to explore the world of digital assets way before the marketplace launch. The video game retailer started looking for crypto specialists in April 2021, two months after the massive short squeeze coordinated by the retail investors from Reddit skyrocketed its stock by 1,500%, saving the otherwise failing company from liquidation. In May, GameStop released a self-custodial wallet for gamers, advertising it as a simple and secure way to get started with Web3.

However, not everyone is excited about Gamestop’s new venture. The unnamed senior former employee, cited by the game industry publication Kotaku, doesn’t believe that the company’s crypto team was big enough to launch anything that would meaningfully impact GameStop’s bottom line. The launch of the marketplace, they said, was mostly just aimed at exciting investors and people on Reddit.

Their bitterness can be understood. Just a week ago, GameStop announced massive layoffs as a part of its aggressive turnaround plan. According to different estimates, 100 to 160 employees, including CFO Mike Recupero, were fired. The staff cuts, which mostly affected the company's corporate side, were intended to “reduce bloat” as GameStop aims to capitalize on the growing crypto adoption and GameFi frenzy.

In the memo sent to employees, CEO Matt Furlong said the company has to make tough decisions as it invests in web3. “This means eliminating excess costs and operating with an intense owner’s mentality,” he wrote. “Everyone in the organization must become even more hands-on and embrace a heightened level of accountability for results.”