Why SEGA Fans Are Upset About NFTs

Gamers are used to paying real-world money for digital products, but the dubious nature of NFTs and their environmental impact harm Sega’s optics.

Sega has announced it’s going to be selling NFTs, giving fans of the storied gaming company another reason to become upset with the NFT fad. The recent craze of selling NFTs leads many outsiders to the worlds of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology to layers of frustration. The first layer is trying to understand exactly what a non-fungible token is. The greater frustration comes after understanding it, and realizing exactly why some NFTs are being sold for millions of dollars.

An oversimplification for those new to the trend: An NFT makes use of the same blockchain technology used for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin to create a non-fungible, or unique, token, to designate a specific piece of digital media as the original, and thereby all other versions, despite being functionally identical, as copies. This so-called original can thereby be sold or auctioned for far more money than any digital copies, which could be obtained for a nominal price, or for free, depending on the media in question.

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Gamers are not strangers to the practice of paying real-world money for digital media, especially given how common microtransactions and premium currencies are in video games now. The notion of uniqueness adds a strange wrinkle, however. Many Sega fans have bought digital copies of Sega’s video games or purchased DLC to add content to those games. The idea of taking pride in owning the “original” copy of a digital item, when every copy is functionally identical, is an odd concept for the gaming world. NFTs extend this to owning the perception of originality for assets like digital artwork, sound files, and other ephemera.

Sega’s NFTs Will Transform Assets Into Digital Originals

In essence, NFTs are a new way for artists, and corporations, to sell things at a high value. If a collector purchases an NFT of Sonic the Hedgehog’s original run cycle, they own the original copy, at least in theory, but they are not purchasing the licensing rights to Sonic the Hedgehog’s image. They do not own any stake in the IP, they simply have a file they can call the original, just as buying an original painting from a living artist does not give the buyer ownership of that artist’s intellectual property. Some of the concerns, aside from the inherent dubious nature of value and ownership, stem from the process used to generate an NFT.

Anyone familiar with bitcoin mining, even peripherally, may be aware that such practices require an immense amount of computing power, as some have linked the activity to the current GPU shortage which has impacted the gaming industry and PC gamers. It also requires a considerable draw of electrical power. As another function of blockchain technology, generating an NFT requires the same.

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Even casual fans of Sega are likely to associate the company with its longtime mascot character Sonic the Hedgehog, and the negative environmental impact of NFT generation clearly runs against the flow of the environmentally conscious messages of classic Sonic the Hedgehog games. The NFT question is more complicated and certainly less overtly sinister, when compared to the imagery of Dr. Robotnik shoving cute animals into robot bodies created in smoke-belching factories. However, the reality of isolated computers under controlled cooling conditions generating blockchain authentications does not compel the same visceral reaction.

The Environmental Impact Of NFT’s Gives Sega Poor Optics

Whether due to environmental concerns, or simply a matter of judgment, Sega fans have reason to call the company’s decision to jump on the NFT bandwagon into question. The notion of finding value in the work of computers toiling away to generate blockchain authenticity for a piece of digital media history is a harder sell, particularly when the process takes a toll on the environment. Because of its environmental impact, and because of the the exclusivity associated with NFTs, many Sega fans are upset with the company right now.

Next: What Sonic The Hedgehog’s Best Game Is (& Why)

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About The Author

Derek Garcia
(30 Articles Published)

Derek Garcia is a Game Feature Writer for ScreenRant. He lives with his wife, three dogs, and a likely excessive number of video game consoles. When he is not writing, playing video games, watching movies or television, or reading novels or comic books, he occasionally takes some time to sleep. Derek majored in journalism and worked for a print newspaper before discovering the internet. He is a fan of science fiction and fantasy, video game and tabletop RPGs, classic Hong Kong action movies, and graphic novels. After being immersed in nerd culture for many years, Derek is now happy to write about the media he enjoys instead of just ranting to his friends.

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