Discord Sees Backlash After Teasing Ethereum Wallets And NFTs

Image for article titled Discord's Hints About Crypto, NFTs Are Tearing Its Community Apart

Image: Discord / Kotaku

The CEO of Discord recently teased that the world’s largest gaming chat platform could potentially support cryptocurrency wallets. This has led many users to be nervous that their Nitro (a paid Discord service) subscriptions could be used to fund the scammy NFT ecosystem in the future. The teaser tweet caused massive opposition among Discord users, with many unsubscribing from the platform’s premium service (or threatening to do so).

In a response to a tweet about Discord and NFTs, Discord CEO Jason Citron shared a screenshot of what appears to be a Discord beta feature offering integrated access to cryptocurrency wallets, MetaMask and WalletConnect. These wallets both allow users to access Ethereum, one of the largest forms of cryptocurrency.

As of July 2021, a single Ethereum transaction uses as much electricity as a single American household does in a workweek. The Ethereum foundation’s made some official statements promising that the network will be transitioning to a less environmentally taxing model. But crypto stans have been claiming this’ll happen any time now for ages, so we’ll believe it when we see it.

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are receipts for digital art that run on the ‘blockchain,’ which is the same technology that powers cryptocurrency. And no matter how many crypto bros come crying about how some blockchain technologies are not as bad for the environment as others, the NFT ecosystem is rife with all sorts of scams that have a really suspect premise, or end with the organizer stealing art or running off with the money.

Starting at least three months ago, Discord ran a survey asking users about their opinions on NFTs. (As of yesterday, the survey was closed.) In the survey, users were asked, “How familiar are you with NFTs?” with the following radio box responses: “What’s an NFT?,” “I know enough to think they’re cool!” “I’ve bought and sold one NFT,” and “I’m a pro. I collect and sell NFTs regularly!” Notably, the option to tell Discord that NFTs suck was conspicuously missing.

Since word of this emerged, many subscribers have been frustrated by the lack of a feedback system to convey to the company their negative feelings about NFTs. Some were upset enough to unsubscribe from Discord’s premium service.

One anonymous user who had subscribed to Discord Nitro since launch told Kotaku:

I know my one cancelation won’t impact much, but I’m hoping that a collective community outcry will encourage them to reverse course before it happens. NFTs are one of the oldest scams: Give someone something worthless, like an easily copied image, with the promise that it’s worth something. Worse, many NFTs take advantage of OTHER people’s work: I’ve had artist friends who have had their images stolen and converted into NFTs against their will, and there’s nothing they can do about it. And then there’s the environmental impact of crypto in general. Honestly, I expected better from Discord, and canceling my sub is the best way I have to send that message.

A Discord community admin told Kotaku, “I have been subbed to Discord for a few years now because I own a server that is over 1k members and I needed to keep it boosted, and yes. It’s because of this tweet that I cancelled.”

Kells Tate, co-lead developer of the indie game Calico, commented to Kotaku:

I’m disappointed that many artists I used to love, and platforms I love to use are buying into the scam of NFTs. The market for NFTs are not people who want to support artists, or people who want to use these platforms. The market is people who believe that they can be one of the few winners in the short-term financial scheme of NFTs. Honestly there weren’t many benefits for Discord Nitro, I was only subscribed because I liked the platform and wanted to support it. I am not interested in funding this scheme.

Kotaku reached out to Discord for comment.

“We’re always exploring and hacking away at things we think will improve Discord for all the communities we serve,” said a spokesperson.

Update, 11/09/2021 4:45 p.m. ET: Added additional comment from a game developer.