In 1994, Andy Davidson had an idea. That idea was to take the infinitely copied mid-70s Tektronix 4051 game, Artillery, but do it with cartoon worms. Then-developer Team17 snapped it up, called it Worms, and have since wrung out every last drop of miserable profit from the mediocre idea ever since. So of course they’re making Worms NFTs.
NFTs are a very popular racket in which people “sell” infinitely reproducible jpegs of badly drawn cartoons to the rich and gullible, and use blockchain technology so they’re also ruinous for the environment! Team17 joins the ever-growing throngs of video game publishers who’ll have some really awkward explaining to do when their grandchildren ask what it was like when there were trees. It’s very excited to announce MetaWorms, “unique” Worms-like pieces of art sold via Reality Gaming Group.
What’s that, naive person who still has hope? You think this means artists working at Team17 will create unique and delightful pieces of Worms art, then sell a unique print for excited customers to frame and hang on their wall?! No, silly! That’s what’s currently happening on the alternative-Earth, where everything isn’t [sweeping arm gesture].
In our dark, fetid timeline, we get shitty computer-generated art, never touched by human hands, sold to idiots in the form of a jpeg with a registration on a blockchain. To everyone else in the world, these will be freely available via the magic of right-clicking, but to the unique individuals, they’ll cost a vast sum of money, and take a fucking great chunk out of the Earth.
Worry not, though! Team17 are fending off such criticisms at the pass! Because it knows we know that NFTs are the shittiest thing it could be doing, it’s attempting to pre-emptively make amends by giving an unspecified “cut” of the profits to Coin 4 Planet, in order that it can handwave away the responsibility for its actions. Its shameless press release informs us Team17 are “donating specifically to its Refeed Farms plan, which supports food waste-processing worm beds.” Geddit? Rather than, you know, not causing the environmental destruction in the first place.
Team17, once a puny UK developer endlessly releasing the same game over and over and over, is now a hefty indie game publisher, putting out a catalogue of often fairly decent games. It’s clearly doing pretty well for itself, having just spent almost $200 million on acquisitions this year already. The publisher doesn’t seem quite so strapped for cash that it’d need to be turning to crypto bullshit right now. It’ll be interesting to learn how all the indies it publishes feel about their money-machine behaving this way.
We reached out to Team17 with some questions, but unfortunately only received a boilerplate statement in response.
Team17 is licencing the Worms brand to our newest third-party partner so they can produce collectible digital artwork based on one of the most beloved IPs in indie games, in a similar way to already available physical merchandise. Team17 has no plans to introduce NFTs or play-to-earn NFT mechanics into any of its indie games label titles.
No one needs to be doing this. It’s gross. Eurogamer is reporting many within the studio are really pissed off about it. Team17 looks like a big fucking asshole now. It had no reason to.