WildWorks, the developers of once wildly popular, family friendly MMO Animal Jam as well as the more mature iteration Feral, have left many of their fans feeling “shaken”, “outraged” and “betrayed”.
WildWorks have previously been recognised as a developer with excellent green credentials; they planted trees in Zambia and even railed against the potential environmental damage of cryptocurrencies. Something that makes it all the more surprising that they are launching a new NFT game, Cinder, complete with “tokenized avatars”.
A user's screengrab from Animal Jam
While some “proof-of-stake” NFT projects like Cinder's Solana are considered more environmentally friendly than “proof-of-work” based NFTs, readers should hopefully need no reminding that NFTs already produce staggering amounts of fossil fuels and even in their infancy are consuming far more energy than many nations combined. And that’s not to mention the fact that the vast majority of NFTs will inevitably eventually hold little-to-no value.
Beyond the hypocrisy of taking a beloved environmentally friendly brand and using it to launch into an industry that is notoriously climate unfriendly, long-time players of WildWorks’ games cite additional reasons for their outrage. They claim that WildWorks are taking beloved assets from Feral and using them as the foundation of Cinder.
In summer this year, Feral’s updates and social media posts slowed to a near-trickle before exploding with content about Cinder, their new NFT game. In the words of our source, “Instantly, this announcement was faced with backlash from the community, wondering why a company who had fought so hard to teach kids the importance of protecting the environment, were now backing a project that would contribute to the destruction of it.”
"Since the inception of WildWorks and their creation of AnimalJam, they have presented a front of caring about environmental preservation. It's an about-face of the highest degree, and a betrayal to the community."
Following a disastrous AMA which seemingly contradicted WildWorks' subsequent press release, tensions between company and community heightened even further. The launch of Cinder’s website, for many, was the final straw. It showcased assets and videos seemingly directly taken from Feral. Feral’s Fae race would make up the new Cinder Fae NFTs sold in Cinder.
Furthermore, fans of Feral suspect, based on some small print in the terms and conditions, that WildWorks will be stealing their character designs for use as profit-making environmentally destructive NFTs in Cinder.
Clark Stacey, CEO of WildWorks, has posted a Medium article explaining his decision and expressing his hopes that WildWorks will do more to change the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry from within it than outside it. We have reached out to WildWorks for comment but have not received a response.
Perhaps there will be more to this Cinder story than another shameless NFT cash grab. But in an online climate where children are regularly falling foul of NFT scams and pump-and-dump schemes by their favourite influencers (not to mention the RL climate on the verge of total collapse), the move appears to be at best irresponsible, and at worst damn-right dangerous. And Cinder's new highly dubious Twitter account, which tellingly retweets giveaways for environmentally devastating proof-of-work NFTs does not lend any air of credibility.
[caption id="attachment_403887" align="aligncenter" width="620"] Suffice to say, the Cinder twitter account does not scream credible and trustworthy[/caption]
Somebody needs to tell Coffeezilla.
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