Atari, Theseus’ corporate entity / brand, just made about $ 110,000 through – you guessed it – NFTs (shout at Ars Technica for doing the math). The tokens in question are 3D models of the Atari 2600 game cartridge for Centipede – 10 of them black, 100 of them red.
The NFTs are sold as part of the Atari Capsule Collection – which is actually a lot Centipede and Pongthemed NFTs sold by the company that now owns the Atari brand. The company and its intellectual property have been bought and sold so many times that it’s almost hard to keep up, but its current incarnation is best known for trying to build hotels and struggling to make a game console.
As dull as I am, I can admit there is at least one interesting part of Atari’s NFT offering: the Flagship centipedeAccording to the company, the NFT part is just another 3D model, but the first person to buy it will get a real-life, original and restored Centipede arcade cabinet. But if the regular NFTs that just included a 3D model were to sell for thousands of dollars, I don’t even want to think about how much it will sell for.
We talk a lot about NFTs, often as collectibles, but these are particularly baffling – they’ve sold from $ 180.78 to over $ 16,000. As Ars points out if you wanted to get a real Centipede 2600 cartridge, with the box, manual and all, you could go to eBay and spend $ 30 (or $ 53 if you want to seal it). Versions of the game for collectors recently sold for around $ 500, and auctions for them are starting in that area as well. Even original Centipede arcade cabinets cost less than some of these NFTs.
If the point is to feel like you own something, that you have collected it, what would make you feel more of that: an NFT or a copy of the actual game? The NFT gives you a listing on the blockchain, stating that you own a 3D model (which is identical to all other versions), but a physical cartridge can be displayed on a shelf or actually played. Not to mention the physical versions that have history – you could always try to track down one of the versions of the game that Atari buried in the desert in 1983. They’ve previously sold on eBay for around $ 600, and come with an origin story that can’t really be rivaled by an NFT.
And if you needed one more reason why you should save your money and just buy a physical copy of it Centipede, here’s the kicker: those were created by the actual, original Atari, not the corporate entity that just happens to own the name today.