Despite the ongoing crypto crash, a new crypto project with dubious claims has emerged: Polium, styling itself as the first “multi-chain console for web3 gaming.”
Web3 refers to the universe of self-referential projects meant to integrate crypto and foster wider adoption of speculative digital tokens. If that doesn’t sound helpful, that’s probably because even its biggest boosters struggle with offering concrete explanations. Still, the industry has spawned games, many of which are branded as “play-to-earn” and include obvious monetization attempts, as opposed to the revolutionary innovations Web3 advocates insist their offerings will be.
GRIT, a Western battle royale featured in Polium’s promotional materials and the first crypto-centric game on the Epic Store, saw a poor launch as gamers rejected its horse NFTs. Others, like play-to-earn games Axie Infinity, have seen their in-game economies completely collapse as token inflation and declining user activity has made every digital asset within effectively worthless.
Still, that hasn’t stopped Polium from promising a dedicated console and controller for Web3 games. Over the past few days, however, backlash and criticisms have already spurred changes to the project, its design, and promised features.
A few different things raised red flags for observers. First is the fact that the product is not slated to launch until 2024 for Polium Pass holders—people who buy an unreleased NFT collection for an unknown price that Polium promises will give early access to the console and crypto rewards—and 2025 for the general public. That is a long way away, suggesting that the product is essentially vaporware right now, although Polium says it will have a prototype soon. The project’s logo on launch is also indistinguishable from the Nintendo Gamecube, and Polium claimed it would integrate “TouchID,” which is an Apple trademark, even including Apple’s own logo for the feature.
On Monday, Polium sought to respond to criticism and “clear some things up” about the project. First, they “did not copy the Ninetendo’s Gamecube logo” and pointed out there are “multiple companies that are using a similar logo” but said it would come up with an original one. While Polium was silent on its use of Apple’s TouchID, it did quietly change the feature’s name to “Scanner” on its website and modified its fingerprint image.
Another big issue is that there just aren’t many fun, or functional, Web3 games to play currently. The most prominent examples have been resounding failures: Axie Infinity has sputtered due to inflated token supplies and an inability to attract new users to offer old users exit liquidity. It’s also barely a game, and the most bought-in “players” usually hire others to actually do the playing for them. So-called metaverses like Decentraland and The Sandbox are made up of notoriously empty, janky, sub-Second Life virtual spaces. Polium insisted there will certainly be games to play, however, and are in talks with web3 developers.
Polium also insisted that the team has “experience in hardware and software” and were building not only for Web3, but for themselves. What has been revealed so far doesn’t inspire much confidence, although that hasn’t stopped the project from promising features that may not be possible to begin with.
Polium did not respond to Motherboard’s request for comment.
This post has been read 24 times!