The corporate entity that manages the Atari brand name (which has only the slightest affiliation with the original company known as Atari at this time) is the latest company to get into the speculative mania surrounding non-fungal tokens (NFT).
Atari SA’s first NFT auction, which ended Wednesday night at OpenSea, raised 47,582 ethers (approximately $ 92,000 USD at current prices) through the sale of 10 cryptographically signed NFTs, each representing a 3D model of an Atari 2600 Centipede cartridge. The cheapest of the 10 NFTs sold for 3.25 ether (about $ 6,300), while the most expensive (numbered “1 in 30” in its digital statistics, although only 10 have sold so far) went for a lot 9.4395 ether (about $ 18,300).
A separate set of 100 NFTs representing red Centipede Cartridges are also sold in the Harmony One market for the equivalent of $ 180.78 each, raising an additional $ 18,000 in just one and a half hours, according to a spokesman.
For context, an actual, factory-sealed copy of Centipede for the Atari 2600 – complete with box, instructions and a coin cartridge that can actually be used to play the game on real hardware – can be purchased on eBay right now for $ 52.99, including shipping.
Each of the 10 “cartridge” NFTs acts as a kind of “certificate of authenticity” for the underlying digital object, with the symbol’s ownership and uniqueness confirmed by the work of miners on the Ethereum blockchain. The 3D models themselves were created and sold using Animoca Brands and the NFT compilation company Quidd, which hosts the relevant files on their servers.
The actual NFT on the Ethereum blockchain simply serves as a transferable, traceable, “proprietary” digital reference to the server-hosted content. But Quidd promises that in the future, owners of the NFTs will be able to store their goods “permanently on the blockchain.” Quidd compares the potential process of “having a high physical physical trading card, say a Michael Jordan rookie card, and decides to approve and rate it,” slab it “to protect it from damage, insure it with an insurance company and store it in a vault or other safe room. “
More nostalgic NFTs are coming
Atari’s six-digit NFT whim so far is just the first wave of a wider Atari capsule collection, which will be embossed and auctioned off various “limited edition” digital collectibles based on Centipede and Pong, to start. It includes 60 more Atari 2600 Centipede cartridge NFTs, the artist’s renditions of pixelated game scenes, and three NFTs representing “the first quarter inserted into the first Pong arcade game at Andy Capp’s Bar in 1972, based on the actual physical neighborhood owned by Al Alcorn “(which to be honest looks pretty much like any other block).
The most exclusive of these upcoming NFTs – a 3D model of one Centipede arcade cabinet with the digital signature of co-creator Dona Bailey – will come with a “beautifully restored and functional original Centipede Coin-Op physical cabinet” for the winner of the first auction. As if it did not blur the line between physical and digital collectibles enough, the owner of the physical game will be able to unlock “a unique augmented reality experience” by pointing a smartphone at the closet.
This is not the first technological trend that the Atari business brand has been quick to jump on in recent years. Back in 2018, the company’s stock jumped 52 percent on the news that Atari was breaking into the cryptocurrency market with the Atari Token (the price of these tokens has risen slightly since they actually started trading in November last year). The company uses this symbol for its own branding of cryptocurrencies, as well as future plans for an online cryptocurrency-based Atari Casino. Not to mention other quixotic branding like the crowdfunded Atari VCS micro console and plans for Atari-themed hotels and licensed speaker hats.
Whether any of these new, purely digital NFT collectibles will actually appreciate in value in the future, there are still some who are guessing. No matter what happens, Atari has already proven that there is some money to be made by using NFTs to create artificially “scarce” digital objects that represent some well-remembered video game franchises of the past.