GameStop NFT Platform Backs Down and Removes ‘Falling Man’

GameStop has decided to take down a controversial non-fungible token (NFT) listed in its fresh-out-of-the-oven marketplace for digital assets depicting a picture of an astronaut falling that resembled one of the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack.

The NFT called the “Falling Man” was listed by an artist identified with the name “Jules” who included the following description to the photo: “This one probably fell from the MIR station”.

The photo was immediately compared by the NFT community and other observers on Twitter and Reddit to the picture taken by Richard Drew, a photographer with the Associated Press, who captured the moment in which a victim of the attack on the World Trade Center jumped from the collapsing building in a desperate attempt to escape the flames.

According to a Twitter response, the company has taken down the NFT. Even though we could not find the specific tweet cited in this picture to confirm that the user that provided confirmation was the official GameStop Marketplace account, the “Falling Man” is no longer available in the web3 marketplace.

OpenSea Has the Falling Man Listed Multiple Times – The Literal One

Some of the toughest critics on Twitter stated that GameStop should put in place a team to screen the digital art that comes into its marketplace to avoid similar incidents in the future.

The company’s NFT marketplace was officially launched on 11 July and statistics from its official website indicate that its top 50 collections have produced trading volumes of approximately 8,000 ETH since then – around $13 million based on the price of ETH today.

Comparatively, the monthly trading volume of the leading marketplace for NFTs – OpenSea – was over $800 million in June and almost reached the $6 billion mark in January this year before the crypto winter started as per data from Dune.

falling man nft listed on opensea

Curiously, several NFTs named “The Falling Man” are listed on OpenSea at the moment this is written including the actual picture of the individual who committed suicide posted by different users and slight modifications of that same picture. See one of the listings here.

However, OpenSea has not received a similar backlash for allowing the images to be listed on their platform despite the fact that several users have commented on the irony. According to the site’s information, most of these “Falling Man” NFTs have been listed for a year or longer. OpenSea has not made any official comments concerning these listings.

The fact that only GameStop has been grilled for this particular incident puts into question the motivations behind this campaign to boycott the website only a few weeks after its official release.

GameStop is Betting a Lot on the Success of its NFT Marketplace

GameStop (GME) is betting a lot on its web3 pivot as the management is convinced that this is the way to go to turn around the firm after years of declining sales due to its outdated business model, which involves the sale of physical games.

During its first fiscal quarter of 2022, GameStop’s profit margins slid and operating losses increased significantly compared to the same period a year ago. As a result, the company burned nearly $304 million in cash. Its cash reserves by the end of this period stood at $1.04 billion.

Shares of the used video game retailer are down nearly 12% this year after progressively recovering since May. GME’s stock surged to $40 per share at some point in July following the launch of its NFT marketplace but the price has slid since then to its current level of around $33 per share.

GameStop jumped to the spotlight in January 2021 as its stock rallied significantly on the back of a short-squeeze. Retail traders back then coordinated efforts via a Reddit messaging forum called WallStreetBets and collectively managed to push the price higher by buying short-dated options and placing highly leveraged bets.

The incident prompted various stock exchanges such as Robinhood and Interactive Brokers to limit the number of GME shares that investors could trade or completely halt all buying activity.

The company took advantage of this spike in its share price to raise capital and sanitize its balance sheet. In addition, they built a sizable war chest to finance their efforts to turn around the business. However, it is still too early to tell if its web3 bet will save the company – especially in the midst of a relatively unfavorable macroeconomic backdrop.

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