Call of Cthulhu publisher Chaosium has suspended plans for another NFT drop based on its popular cosmic horror tabletop RPG franchise, largely due to pushback from the community. Chaosium’s previous round of blockchain-powered art released in July 2021 but only recently caught attention from players and critics when resurfaced on social media and on forums.
President Rick Meints released a statement early February 16th explaining that the company would forgo its relationship with augmented reality NFT platform VeVe. This is the same company that hosted the first batch of tokens, consisting of different coloured Cthulhus perched on pedestals and a recreation of the Necronomicon.
“All of us at Chaosium are deeply concerned by the issues raised around the VeVe digital collectable releases from last July,” Meints said in the statement. “We take these concerns very seriously—our fans and the communities built around Chaosium are our lifeblood. We go back a long way, and that means a lot to us. We want to make sure you are comfortable with the way we do business.”
According to a timeline provided by Meints, Chaosium began planning a collaboration with VeVe as far back as 2019. The company reportedly conducted “multiple rounds of due diligence” before deciding to work together, but Meints doesn’t provide details except to stress VeVe’s commitment to offsetting the considerable ecological impact blockchain trading incurs from energy use. The source for these figures is a press release sponsored by the Immutable X blockchain - where VeVe is hosted - on the NFT-friendly website DailyHodl.
VeVe and Immutable X both take advantage of carbon offsetting to achieve their advertised 100% carbon neutrality, a practice that’s been criticised for not actually helping slow or reverse climate change and instead creating one more speculative market for companies to trade on, and profit from - much like NFTs, themselves.
Meints continues by explaining that Chaosium worked with the TYPE40 artists who created the first wave of tokens and claimed they would share in the profit from sales. Exact figures or rates weren’t included, but it seems he wanted to curtail speculation on another popular fad within the NFT space - outright theft of artists’ work to mint tokens without their knowledge or consent.
“However, we understand that a lot has changed since we started down this road in 2019. The issues relating to NFTs are increasingly complex and controversial. In recent months, the debate has become prominent and contentious. Bad actors in this sphere have received widespread coverage. Many people are justifiably baffled, incredulous, and deeply skeptical,” Meints said, linking to a glowing Harvard Business Review article on the business possibilities of NFTs.
Meints ends the announcement by thanking fans and players for sharing their disappointment and anger. An open letter on the RPG subreddit asking Chaosium to not pursue NFTs quickly accumulated over 1,000 upvotes and nearly 500 comments. Twitter, Facebook and forums were full of disillusioned and frustrated individuals wondering if they would ever purchase another book from the publisher.
Chaosium is also responsible for the recent Runequest RPG, along with Pendragon and 7th Sea. A new sixth edition of the Arthurian-legend inspired Pendragon is due later this year, and Call of Cthulhu remains an extremely popular game - outselling Dungeons & Dragons 5E in Japan.
While much of the announcement read like attempts to justify Chaosium’s actions, the president explicitly swore off further token drops towards the end. “We do not have another scheduled release on VeVe or any other NFT marketplace. We will never require anyone to own an NFT/digital collectible to enjoy any Chaosium product or game,” Meints wrote.