People spent $9,000 on Pixelmon NFTs. Then they saw the art


The developers released a collection of 10,000 Pixelmon NFTs in February.


It shall be Pokemon of NFT games. Set in the world of Eden, Pixelmon is intended to be an open-world role-playing game in which Pixelmon creatures are captured, traded, and sold as Nonfungile Tokens (NFTs). With the launch of the game at the end of the year, Pixelmon NFT owners will receive land on which they can create living space or become in-game dealers by setting up a shop. To fund the project, Pixelmon developers released a collection of 10,000 Pixelmon NFTs in February.

They managed to raise $70 million, a budget usually associated with blockbuster PlayStation or Xbox games.

But the project hit a roadblock. After collecting all the money, the team revealed the Pixelmon that would inhabit the world. Since then, the project has been a laughingstock on social media.

First some context. NFT collections with 10,000 NFTs are not uncommon. See the Bored Ape Yacht Club for the most popular example. However, in the primary sale, where people buy directly from the creators, the price is usually below 0.1 Ether ($280). Only on the secondary market, on marketplaces like OpenSea, can prices rise to small fortunes. (Or drop to zero more frequently.)

Pixelmon was different. It was an incredibly hyped project coupled with an ambitious open-world game. The team behind the project sold the collection through a Dutch auction, where the price started at 3 ether (about $9,000) and dropped by 0.1 ether every 10 minutes until the last NFT was gone. The collection sold out within an hour, with NFTs selling between 3 Ether and 2.4 Ether ($7,000).

The team raised over $70 million from the sale. Stylish voxelated Pixelmon monsters had been promoted on Twitter, and a demo video The claim of showing real gameplay footage had convinced investors and speculators to bet big.

Then, on February 26th, came the “revelation”. NFT art collections often have a projected minting date—that is, first sale—and a reveal date a few days later. After minting an NFT, placeholder art will appear in the owner’s wallet. At reveal you will see what NFT you have. It’s a bit like Pokemon cards: different NFTs within the same collection are ranked based on how rare their traits are, just like how a Holographic Pokemon card is more valuable than a standard card, so revealing it is essentially like opening your booster pack to see what cards you get.

The art the owners got — many had spent over $9,000 on — was bad enough to become an instant meme. It also fueled the price of the collection. At the time of writing, the minimum price (the cheapest NFT in the set is listed on the OpenSea marketplace) is 0.39 Ether ($1,500).

Pixelmon is one of many NFT projects that aim to offer more than just art. Many lean toward play-to-earn games, requiring NFTs from characters or monsters to play. Pokémon is a common inspiration for such games, including Axie Infinity, which is the most popular P2E game so far. Other collections are also attempting to add value by creating a digital world, a “metaverse,” where NFTs can be used to create 1-of-1 avatars or enable virtual real estate ownership. However, as with cryptocurrency and standard NFT trading, prices are volatile.

Syber, the pseudonymous creator of Pixelmon, admitted that the reveal went poorly on the project’s Discord server. (Most NFT deals happen on Discord.)

“I won’t sugarcoat it – we made a terrible mistake,” Syber wrote on Discord. “This is unacceptable. We felt pressured to move forward with the reveal and the reality is we weren’t ready to move forward with the artwork. This does not represent the brand and we will fix this as we let a lot of people down with this revelation.”

He said $2 million will be spent to completely revamp the art. The fully pseudonymous Pixelmon team has also partnered with Magic Media, a video game development studio.

“No matter how long it takes or how much FUD [fear, uncertainty and doubt] occurs, we are committed to delivering on our long-term vision and everything set out in our Litepaper,” he tweeted.

But the story doesn’t quite end there. The reveal of the Pixelmon art was such a public failure that it spawned an icon — or at least a meme — in “Kevin,” the turtle creature who became the face of the reveal. (“Kevin” is the actual name given to him by the Pixelmon developers.)

It’s not just that Kevin has become a social media meme. Kevin has become an asset to himself. The minimum price of Pixelmon’s NFT collection – the cheapest you can buy – is 0.39 Ether ($1,140). Kevin Pixelmon’s reserve price is 4.75 Ether ($13,900). Not only that, Kevin has become the star of his own derivative art collections.

There are Kevin’s life, essentially a series of motivational posters with Kevin’s head superimposed on the heads of iconic figures, which was the hottest collection on OpenSea for some hot moments on Monday. Some have been sold for as much as 0.295 Ether ($860). Then there’s Kevin Punks, a play on CryptoPunks, a series of 8-bit NFTs that regularly go to six digits. Kevin Punks currently has a reserve price of 0.85, or just under $2,500.

It’s an example of how NFTs are enabling the commercialization of meme culture – if only for an afternoon.


Three NFTs from the Lives of Kevin collection.

Open sea

Not everyone was upset with the received Pixelmon. Pixelmon’s roadmap states that the game, which will be browser-based, will launch by the end of the year. Some hope that the ship will be restored to order by then.


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