Anti-NFT corporates are not a bastion of ethical behavior

It’s become popular for corporate entities, from games companies to media giants, to come charging out of the gates so like so many white knights, ready to defend creativity and consumer interests against the vagaries of NFTs. And the transparent self-serving of their soapboxing should not be ignored.

While companies such as Itch, Activision Steam, and performatively attack tools, platforms, and creators that are focused on building layers of ownership and accessibility previously unheard of in Web2, many of them have a long and vile history of de-platforming and demonetizing adult content, building in pay disparity between executives and creatives as a feature rather than a bug, attacking and subverting creator unionization and collective bargaining, and practicing anti-community malfeasance and punishing talented people for flirting with an indie audience.

When copyright squatters Chooseco issued takedown notices for games creators building on Itch.io for using the phrase “choose your own adventure” — the platform sided against the creators. While senior executives at Activision call NFTs unethical, the company itself is actively involved in union-busting activities. And the move towards loot boxes, in-game purchases, etc from almost every major game developer — at the expense of their users’ experience — is an ongoing example of the hollowness of their arguments against the purchase of non-fungible digital goods. Steam refuses to allow the traceable provenance and ownership of games and assets on their platform, while willingly participating in illegal geo-blocking in violation of anti-trust Acts.

Many anti-NFT efforts are a naked attempt to bait creators and consumers into abandoning tools and platforms that actually work and offer independent monetization options, in favor of platforms that actively seek to extract value from their participation.

Corporate entities attack those who enable creators to work outside of their walled gardens precisely because their entire business model is predicated on centralizing ownership of assets, profiles, and creators themselves and enforcing profitable (for them) terms of use. Prior to NFTs, these companies have a history of attacking and defrauding indie makers who create for a common culture, not just to generate revenue streams.

Those within the indie space expend enormous cultural, financial, and creative capital to make a product that the central entities will only ever attempt to acquire or squash in a difficult and crowded market. But these indie creators are being manipulated into fighting against their own best interests by corporations with endless war chests who will benefit from a system that builds in more and new layers of centralization instead of removing them.

In contrast to this, NFTs have been created by a diverse set of communities and creators for the sake of community-building. They can be used as a tool to facilitate new kinds of expression and content creation that circumvent the usual gatekeepers who either whitewash or exploit their audiences.

Corporate entities are actually fighting against an array of different communities and tools with the same underlying goal: an open, neutral web where users can interact, share content directly — without a middleman they can either bankroll or control.

We should not put faith in those who have demonstrated past contempt for the cultural independents — even if their arguments may temporarily sound legitimate. Ultimately, it’s in their best interests to squash the NFT community and the creators, makers, and participants.

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