After a rollercoaster of a year on the stock market fueled by WallStreetBets retail trading, GameStop is going full meme and looking to build a “Web3” platform, according to a flurry of job listings posted to its careers site on Monday. One of those ads, discovered by CoinDesk, is a LinkedIn listing for a “Head of Web3 Gaming” in which the company says it’s looking for someone to “accelerate the future of gaming and commerce” based on blockchains.
If you’re lucky enough to have never heard the phrase “Web3,” it’s often used to describe a decentralized, crypto-based internet. That tracks with the other job listings, which indicate that GameStop is developing some sort of NFT platform, likely based on Ethereum. While sometimes job listings are just job listings, in this case, it may be a play by GameStop to get back on WallStreetBets’ radar or to work its way into the crypto community’s good graces.
GameStop hasn’t mentioned its ardent retail trading fans much in its earnings calls, but the company’s stock has clearly benefited from their enthusiasm — at the beginning of 2021, it was hovering around $20 per share, and it closed on Tuesday at $177.84, according to Yahoo Finance. High stock prices don’t necessarily indicate that the company as a whole is doing well, but they can at least help keep people liking the stock.
When you’re dealing with an Internet mob, though, attention eventually fades. AMC has tried to court back traders’ interest (it was caught up in the same trading fiasco as GameStop) with things like free popcorn and news that they’re looking into accepting Bitcoin and other crypto at theaters. For GameStop, it’s possible that an NFT platform promising a future of games where “play is driven by the things you bring” and incorporating buzzy phrases like “Web3” and “blockchain-based gaming” is a similar tactic to reignite the passion investors once felt for it.
With all the talk about GameStop as a wild stock market bet, you’d be forgiven for forgetting that its main business is being a video game store. Whether or not video game vendors allow for games that include NFTs is a bit of an open question at this point — Valve declared that developers can’t sell blockchain-enabled games on its Steam store, while Epic has said that it’s okay with them. Apple has yet to publicly make a decision about the App Store, possibly because developers are rightfully scared to be the first ones to try submitting an NFT-powered app.
Meanwhile, GameStop seems very interested in becoming a place for those kinds of projects — one of the listed responsibilities in the job description is “build a team to help creators launch their projects on the GameStop platform.” While the company seemingly teased plans for something NFT-related earlier this year, an obscure webpage is more cryptic than a call for applicants who want to build a blockchain empire.
To whoever’s going to try and do this for GameStop, I wish you luck — because you’re going to need it. Dropping the ball on this project could upset the crypto people, retail traders, and blockchain game developers, and that’s a Venn diagram I’d want to be well outside of. Though if things do end up going disastrously wrong, please email me because that could be an incredible story.