Syber, the founder, said an alpha release of the game is still planned for later this year.
After much anticipation, and a $70 million mint, the artwork reveal for Ethereum NFT gaming project Pixelmon is getting crushed on social media.
Syber, Pixelmon’s founder, called the reveal “unacceptable,” but said the project’s development would continue. (NFTs are unique blockchain tokens that signify one’s ownership over a digital asset. In the case of Pixelmon, each NFT signifies ownership over an in-game asset.)
When the game launches, according to the Pixelmon website, players will be able to catch other Pixelmon and collect them as NFTs in an open-world RPG. The first collection that minted “are playable genesis collectibles” that won’t be available to catch in-game. Holders of the first set of NFTs also will “gain exclusive access to an airdrop of Pixelmon land.”
Pixelmon mint prices—the cost to buy an NFT in a primary sale—began at 3 ETH (about $8,100) and slowly declined via a Dutch auction format, meaning some mints cost less than 3 ETH.
Some on Twitter expressed disappointment with the artwork, saying it was comical how much had been paid for the pixelated NFTs, while others said some of the NFTs were “broken,” and accused the project of being a scam.
Over the weekend, Syber spoke out about what happened, saying the NFTs that minted did not accurately reflect what the in-game assets would look like. On Discord, he apologized and said the OpenSea NFT reveal was “a horrible mistake.”
“The plan was always to use the funding raised from mint to create proper and better models,” he wrote on Twitter, adding that the NFTs “are updateable and what they look like now is poor quality—we own up to that—they will be made better.” He also said that the “funds raised will be used to build Pixelmon.”
“The goal was to create the first AAA NFT game,” Syber added.
Some of the Pixelmon assets appear to have been based on Unity stock models.
“We bought a lot of assets for our prototype on Unity … they were not used in our NFTS,” Syber said in the Pixelmon Discord server during a community AMA on Saturday. “Our intention was never to use these assets in the final game.”
“We need time to develop the game,” said Syber, adding that “we will aim for an alpha release before the end of this year.”
Back in December, Syber tweeted: “Pixelmon is the next blue chip. This is financial advice. Don’t do your own research.” The statement plays on the frequently uttered phrases “Not financial advice” and “Do your own research” used by crypto influencers.
The NFT gaming space is exploding, with top titles like Axie Infinity now valued at over $3 billion and the digital card game Splinterlands partnering with Warner Music Group to include musicians in future games. But many blockchain gaming projects have faced a backlash, and Pixelmon probably won’t be the last.
Twitch streamer and Axie Infinity player Brycent has been following the blockchain gaming space closely for about a year now and runs an esports guild, Loot Squad, which is backed by Delphi Digital.
“Pixelmon is actually a pull-away from a Minecraft-modded game,” Brycent told Decrypt. “So, in a sense, another developer on Minecraft created the whole Pixelmon idea, and this was already something that was in the Minecraft world … whereas Axie created its own IP, its own process.” That mod, according to Brycent, was directly inspired by Nintendo’s Pokémon.
“It’s going to be very difficult for the Pixelmon team to be able to provide value that justifies a 3 ETH mint price,” Brycent added. “And when you raise $70 million, that means you need to be able to provide $70 million worth of value.”