The Problem with NFTs: the Growing Push-Back from People Who Are Sick and Tired of the Current NFT Craze

If you’re tired of the current level of NFT hype, you’re not alone!
Photo by Dylan Calluy on Unsplash

There are fewer topics which provoke such a sharp divide of opinion as Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs for short). NFT madness has reached stratospheric heights, and looks likely to rise even further. And some people have had enough.*

When Kent Bye and Molly White (who are heroes of mine, but in very different ways) both highly recommend a YouTube video, you can bet that I pay attention!

Of the two, Kent Bye is probably the better known; he is in indefatigable, intelligent host of the Voices of VR podcast, and someone whose thoughtful, philosophical insights into any and all aspects of immersive tech I value greatly (I wish I had his brain!). As for Molly, she is someone whom I first encountered because of her truly epic thread of snark about that infamous Cryptoland promo video, but she, too, is definitely someone to follow (she maintains the wonderful Web3 Is Going Just Great website, which chronicles the scandals, misdeeds, and crimes of the many crypto, blockchain, and NFT projects out there, an increasingly difficult task as the number of schemes proliferates!).

Here is the 2-hour-and-18-minute video itself, titled The Problem with NFTs, by Dan Olson, a Canadian whose YouTube channel Folding Ideas has just over half a million subscribers:

Dan starts his video by providing some historical context, discussing the financial crisis provoked by the mortgage bond crisis of 2008, and then moving on to Bitcoin, trumpeted as an end to the evil of centralized banking. Here’s a prime quote:

Rather than being a reprieve to the people harmed by the housing bubble, the people whose savings and retirements were, unknown to them, being gambled on smoke, cryptocurrency instantly became the new playground for smoke vendors. This is a really important point to stress: cryptocurrency does nothing to address 99% of the problems with the banking industry, because those problems are patterns of human behaviour.

—Dan Olson

He then talks about Ethereum, and how it was created in part to address some of the problems posed by Bitcoin. Dan provides one of the best overviews of “proof of work” versus “proof of stake” that’s I’ve encountered to date. After covering the basics of blockchain, he turns his attention to the Non-Fungible Token market, discussing the whole “code is law” premise of smart contracts at length. His highly entertaining exploratory foray into the current NFT market space is well worth the price of admission alone! Near the two-hour mark, Dan discusses Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs).

Honestly, this video is so good, and so information-dense, that I would strongly encourage you to set aside two-and-a-half hours, and watch it in full, with the subtitles on. Like me, you’ll probably rewind it several times to review some of Dan’s better arguments! Molly and Kent are right; this video is *chef’s kiss* (Dan even briefly includes screencaps of Molly’s website and that infamous Cryptoland promo video!).

But it’s the final chapter of this video where Dan is on point, and on fire:

In 2008, the economy functionally collapsed. The basic chain reaction was this: bankers took mortgages and turned them into something they could gamble on. This created a bubble, and then the bubble popped.

When you drill down into it, you realize that the core of the crypto ecosystem, the core of Web3, the core of the NFT marketplace, is a turf war between the wealthy and ultra-wealthy. Technofetishists who look at people like Bill Gates and Jess Bezos, billionaires minted via tech industry doors that have now been shut by market calcification, and are looking for a do-over, looking to synthesize a new market where they can be the one to ascend from a merely wealthy programmer to a hyper-wealthy industrialist. It’s a cat fight between the 5% and the 1%.

Ultimately the driving forces underlying this entire movement are economic disparity. The wealthy and tenuously wealthy are looking for a space that they can dominate, where they can be trendsetters and tastemakers and can seemingly invent value through sheer force of will.

This is, in my opinion, the blindspot of many casual critics.The fact that tokens representing ape PFPs are useless, yet somehow still expensive, isn’t an overlooked glitch in the system, it’s half the point. It’s a digital extension of inconvenient fashion. It’s a flex and a form of mythmaking.

And that’s how it draws in the bottom: people who feel their opportunities shrinking, who see the system closing around them, who have become isolated by social media and a global pandemic, who feel the future getting smaller, people pressured by the casualization of work as jobs are dissolved into the gig economy, and want to believe that escape is just that easy. All you gotta do is bet on the right Discord and you might be air-dropped the next new hotness… This is your chance to stick it to Wall Street and venture capitalists, as long as you pay no attention to the VCs behind the curtain. The line can only go up.

It’s a movement driven in no small part by rage, by people who looked at 2008, who looked at the system as it exists, but concluded that the problems with capitalism were that it didn’t provide enough opportunities to be the boot. And that’s the pitch: buy in now, buy in early, and you could be the high tech future boot.

Our systems are breaking or broken, straining under neglect and sabotage, and our leaders seem at best complacent, willing to coast out the collapse. We need something better. But a system that turns everyone into petty digital landlords, that distills all interaction into transaction, that determines the value of something by how sellable it is and whether or not it can be gambles on as a fractional tokens sold via micro-auction, that’s not it.

A different system does not mean a better system; we replace bad systems with worse ones all the time. We replaced a bad system of work and bosses with a terrible system of apps, gigs, and on-demand labour.

So it’s not just that I oppose NFTs because the foremost of them are aesthetically vacuous representations of the dead inner lives of the tech and finance bros behind them. It’s that they represent the vanguard of a worse system. The whole thing, from OpenSea fantasies for starving artists to the buy-in for pay-to-earn games, it’s the same hollow, exploitative pitch as MLMs, It’s Amway, but everywhere you look, people are wearing ugly-ass ape cartoons.


I leave you with another very recent YouTube commentary video I watched a couple of days ago, this one by the incomparable Josh Strife Hayes, who has sharpened his patented snark by reporting on countless questionable MMORPG projects over the past few years (a growing cottage industry).

From now on, this 22-minute video is what I am going to send to anybody who asks me what an NFT is, because Josh so mercilessly strips it down to its bare essentials, so that everybody can see just how ludicrous the whole setup is! The NFT-owner emperor is truly wearing no clothes; in fact, he’s just holding a spot in a line-up!

If, after watching Josh’s video, you have a bone to pick with it, I’d love to hear your comments (aside from his British pronunciation of the word “fungible”, which makes me wince). Where Dan Olson slays with facts, Josh Strife Hayes prefers to devastate with sarcasm, and he’s so good at it that it’s a joy to behold.

So, it would appear that there is now a determined push-back on the current silly season of NFT hyperbole, and I for one welcome this development. Too many people—particularly baby investors—are buying into the breathless hype of ill-thought-out NFT projects, which are proliferating like the Polynesian rats introduced to Easter Island. Commentators such as Dan and Josh are doing us all a service with their bracing commentary on this madness.


*FULL DISCLOSURE: I possess zero NFTs, and I only own one cryptocurrency, the Neos Credit (NCR), which I earn as a side benefit of being a monthly Patreon patron of NeosVR social VR platform. And, in that case, NeosVR is an actual, working metaverse platform for which you can create an avatar, and which you can currently visit, explore, and build in! In other words, there’s a THERE there, unlike so many currently hyped blockchain-based projects, which are essentially handwaving and hot air. Caveat emptor!

UPDATED: Cryptoland Just Lost Its Island in Fiji

Cryptoland’s contract to purchase Nananu-i-cake, the Fijian island which was to be its home base for its fantastical crypto paradise, has fallen through, and the island is once again up for sale on the market

You may have been following my recent blogposts about the Cryptoland project (here and here), and so I bring you this breaking news, courtesy of The Guardian newspaper:

Widely mocked plans to establish a tropical haven for cryptocurrency enthusiasts have run into trouble after a contract to buy an island in Fiji for US$12 million fell through.

A group of crypto-evangelists, led by Max Olivier and Helena Lopez, outlined plans for the island, Nananu-i-cake, in a lavishly animated YouTube video, featuring a wide-eyed crypto bro named Christopher landing by helicopter and being given a guided tour by a talking coin called Connie.

The full YouTube clip has been taken down, but cached copies show it touted the island as “an international hub for the community to come live, work and have fun and enjoy a first-class crypto lifestyle”, boasting “a complete ecosystem that represents the blooming crypto space” that was “a paradise made by crypto enthusiasts for crypto enthusiasts”.

Ben Butler of The Guardian goes on to write:

But the project appears to have hit a bigger hurdle than bad publicity. The real estate agent selling Nananu-i-cake, Rick Kermode, of New Zealand firm Bayleys, told Guardian Australia that the contract to sell it to Cryptoland’s backers fell through this week and the island was back on the market.

“We’re telling people that it was under contract during the period of time that they had the contract but it has come back on the market,” he said.

So, it would appear that Cryptoland’s grand plans have come to nought, unless they can somehow find a way to renegotiate the contract. Somehow, given all the negative publicity and ridicule this project has attracted, I don’t think that is going to happen.

I had also heard that they had removed the project’s highly-scrutinized white paper (called a “Why Paper” ) from the Cryptoland website, but I was able to locate it fairly easily, here. Of course, they’re still minting their butt-ugly NFTs, and still trying to sell the project to crypto bros using the face, voice, and quotes from Carlos Matos:

As to why Cryptoland would want to associate Mr. Matos (infamous for his batshit crazy speech promoting the BitConnect ponzi scheme) with their project in any way absolutely mystifies me. I mean, c’mon people, the quote comes from this:

So, it would appear that the strange Cryptoland saga is coming to an end sooner than expected! However, I have no doubt that many equally cringeworthy NFT projects will come along to take its place in 2022.

UPDATE Jan. 16th, 2022: Well, it looks as though I wrote off Cryptoland too easily! Apparently, the team is undeterred by this development. I am not on the official Cryptoland Discord, but someone shared the following screen capture with me:

I know it’s a bit hard to read, so here is a transcription:

Thanks for the list of thoughtful points.

1. Right now the purchase agreement is until December 17th, but we had a conversation with the sellers of the island and they said they would be open to extend it (for a few more months, we need to discuss that still) if things look promising (if we get more investors). The island has been for sale for many years, no one is going to buy it right now, even if the contract expires.

2. If somehow someone were to buy the island, we would find another one (there are some) or we could re-buy it from the new owner maybe. This island is going to be for Cryptoland, we know the market for islands like this is very small, the risks of someone else acquiring before us are very low.

This response seems overly confident, bordering on brash, to me. All this talk about simply switching to another island if Nananu-i-cake is sold to another buyer means (among other things) that the Cryptoland team will have to completely rewrite their white paper proposal, as well as impact the layout and even the number of real estate parcels they can sell. Stop and ponder this incontrovertible fact for a moment: Cryptoland is already selling land on an island they don’t even own yet.

I still believe that this project is never going to come to fruition. Anyway, the Cryptoland saga seems to have a few more chapters left, Stay tuned!

Wilder World: A Brief Introduction

Wilder World’s website features some rather disturbing imagery; a crystal skull?

Today, through a VentureBeat article about the metaverse, I learned about a blockchain-based metaverse platform called Wilder World, which I had never heard of before, so I decided to do a little investigating.

Wilder World is an Unreal-based platform using the Ethereum blockchain, with its own cryptocurrency (WILD), which appears to be catering to NFT (Non-Fungible Token) artists. According to the VentureBeat article I read:

Wilder World is a newer metaverse than The Sandbox and Decentraland. Built on Ethereum, Unreal Engine 5, and its sister company ZERO.tech, Wilder World is a metaverse based on photorealism. Wilder World’s team consists of experienced 5D artists — including founder Frank Wilder and Chad Knight who was previously at Nike — that help to create exquisite in-game graphics for Wilder World’s metaverse.

The first city built in the Wilder World metaverse is #Wiami, a 1 to 1 replica of the city Miami. Like Miami in real life, Wilder World says #Wiami is poised to become the crypto hub of the metaverse. Wilder World is powered by the token $WILD, which can be used to purchase NFTs such as wilder.kicks, wilder.wheels, and wilder.cribs. The NFTs’ value doesn’t just stop at aesthetics. NFT owners can use their items in-game or stake their NFTs to earn more rewards.

Wiami? OK, whatever, bro… 🙄

Like many similar NFT metaverse projects, Wilder World is already selling vehicles (“wheels”), sneakers (“kicks”), and condos (“cribs”). They also plan to sell virtual land NFTs. However, there is as yet—at least, as far as far as I can tell—no currently-available metaverse platform which you can visit as an avatar yet. A May 10th, 2021 article by Dean Takahashi states:

If it sounds a little fuzzy on the metaverse details, it’s a little fuzzy. The company said that the best example of what it means when they say “metaverse” is Ready Player One. The company added, “In essence, a fully immersive, 3D virtual world that can be accessed with a VR headset. Unlike normal games, Wilder World enables games and economies created in world. Given that all economic transactions and ownership in Wilder World happen on the blockchain, assets are ‘interoperable’ between different game worlds. Wilder World’s objective is to create an immersive reality that is as similar to this reality as possible.’

Wilder World also has what it calls a Guild, which it describes as follows:

Wilder.Guild is Wilder World’s first official artist DAO. Built for and by artists, the guild is curating the greatest 3D artists of our time to collaborate on the stories, characters, and environments that will ultimately become the Metaverse.

DAO stands for Decentralized Autonomous Organization, a blockchain-based structure represented by rules encoded as a computer program, which is completely transparent, and controlled by the organization’s members (definition taken from Wikipedia).

One aspect of Wilder World which I found very interesting is that, in addition to using Discord and Telegram, they are using something called ZERO (a product from a sister company) as a community discussion platform, which at first glance, looks rather similar to Discord:

According to their “zine” webpage:

We are honored to officially invite you to join the Wilder World private network on ZERO, as we collectively transcend deeper into our immersive 3D Metaverse powered entirely by NFTs. We are super excited to give our audience early access to the ZERO network.

The powerful network enables communication, collaboration and commerce. This occurs directly between content-creators, developers, and members, independent of third parties or big tech. It’s where curious minds come to access unparalleled behind the scenes concepts and content from the Wilders.

The ZERO platform provides a number of useful features for our community (artists, collectors and fans) to connect, collaborate and co-create, some of those features include –

PROFILES: Curate your profile highlighting your skillset and portfolio

CHANNELS: Tailored chat channels to keep up to date with all the $WILD and Metaverse news

MESSAGE: Join town halls, AMAs or have video chats with other Wilders

VIDEO: Real-time direct messaging old and new friends

FEED: Share the latest articles, artwork, and videos with the Wilder community

ZERO is the technology infrastructure that powers Wilder World allowing our vision of a multi-levelled, photorealistic and mixed reality Metaverse to really come to life. An immersive world where our community can acquire virtual land and express themselves through unique avatars, decorative digital assets and fashionable accessories.

With all this talk of “wheels”, “kicks”, “cribs”, and “zines”, I came away from my investigations today feeling distinctly ancient and out-of-touch, and most definitely not one of the cool kids… 😉 Ryan takes a swig of Geritol, and yells at those damn kids to get off his lawn:

However, what Wilder World is doing might be just up your alley, especially if you are an NFT artist looking for a community of like-minded people!

For further information about Wilder World, please visit their website, join their Discord server, their Telegram group or their ZERO group, or follow them on social media: Twitter and Instagram. And, of course, I will duly add Wilder World to my ever-expanding popular list of metaverse platforms.

My Predictions for Social VR, Virtual Worlds and the Metaverse for 2022

Have you joined the RyanSchultz.com Discord yet? You’re invited to be a part of the first ever cross-worlds discussion group, with over 600 people participating from every social VR platform and virtual world! We discuss, debate and argue about the ever-evolving metaverse and all the companies building it. You’re welcome to come join us! More details here.


I was going to write up another entry in my ongoing Pandemic Diary series today, but then I read Wagner James Au’s predictions for 2022, and I suddenly realized I had neglected to write up my own blogpost, with my predictions for the next twelve months! So let me polish my crystal ball and see what comes up… 😉

Among Wagner’s predictions is this one, which I agree with 100%—make that 1,000%!

There will be a major scandal or controversy around one of the blockchain/NFT-oriented Metaverse platforms.

With NFTs beset by scams and NFT/blockchain-oriented metaverse platforms seeing low user numbers but extremely high investment and speculation, this is only a matter of time.  

It’s only January 12th, 2022, but I have already written about a number of questionable NFT projects which at best are crazy schemes, and at worst are outright scams! MetaWorld springs to mind as the perfect example of the latter (ALLEGEDLY, I hasten to add, although IN MY OPINION, I don’t believe there is any actual MetaWorld platform, aside from a prototype which was created years ago by someone who has since left the company to work for Somnium Space).

By the way, I have been reliably informed that, after an absence caused by the publication of this damning recent piece of investigative journalism by Engadget, Dedric Reid is once again active on Clubhouse, shilling MetaWorld in his own rooms and in other rooms about the metaverse on the still-popular social audio platform. He’s also relisted his (ALLEGEDLY, IN MY OPINION) worthless virtual land NFTs on OpenSea, after NiftyKit took the original listings on his website down when the original artist he stole the images from to illustrate his NFTs lodged a copyright complaint.

Despite all the negative press from the Engadget exposé and my series of blogposts about MetaWorld, Dedric continues undeterred. Someone joked to me via Discord DMs that Dedric Reid is the Elizabeth Holmes of the metaverse, and I laughed out loud because it’s such an apt, concise description! Harsh, savage, but accurate.

But on to other topics; I am tired of talking about Dedric Reid and MetaWorld (and frankly, whoever falls for his ALLEGED scam at this point is simply not doing their proper due diligence, IN MY OPINION). There’s a lot of actual progress being made by many legitimate metaverse companies building social VR/AR platforms and virtual worlds!

First, Facebook—sorry, Meta! I predict that Meta is going to have a very bumpy year ahead. The company was roundly criticized by the virtual reality community when they announced that. starting in October 2020, all Oculus VR hardware users had to set up accounts on the toxic Facebook social network. While Mark Zuckerberg, in his now-infamous Connect 2021 keynote, said that the company was looking at removing this requirement, I’ll believe it when I actually see it happen. Words are hollow, Mark; what matters are actions.

I predict that Facebook (sorry, Meta) is going to have a rough year

Meta is facing such a never-ending litany of complaints, scandals, and even legal actions that this is, once again, a very easy prediction to make for 2022.

Next prediction: there’s going to be a lot of activity this year in the fuzzy overlap area between games and virtual worlds, what I like to call the “metaverse-adjacent” space. Both games (e.g. Fortnite, Minecraft) and game platforms (e.g. Roblox, Core) will continue to add new features in an effort to become more like social VR/AR apps and virtual worlds. And, given their immense popularity, especially among children, tweens, and teens, many people will get their first taste of the metaverse via these games and game platforms, in much the same way as an entire generation got their start in the metaverse via Second Life.

Speaking of Second Life, in my predictions for 2021, I wrote the following:

And, indeed, 2021 was the first year in which VRChat began to consistently surpass Second Life in user concurrency figures (Rec Room did too, I believe). VRChat has been breaking new user concurrency records, leading up to and including New Year’s Eve 2021, as Johnny Rodriguez tweeted:

Last night, 88,700 people put on a VR headset and decided to join the VRChat New Years event to countdown [to] the new year. For reference, this is Husker’s Memorial Stadium [at the University of Nebraska], which fits around 86,000 people when completely full. VR is here to stay.

Turning back to Second Life, the coronavirus pandemic caused a temporary surge in usage (and the current Omicron wave might well prompt people to dust off their avatars and give it another try, too). I still estimate that SL has somewhere between 500,000 and 900,000 active users per month (that is, people who sign in at least once in the past thirty days). I really wish that Linden Lab would regularly release statistics like this, but if they are declining (slowly or quickly), I can also understand why the company would be reluctant to do so.

It doesn’t help matters that Second Life’s userbase skews significantly older than most other social VR platforms, virtual worlds, and metaverse-adjacent apps like Minecraft, Fortnite, and Roblox. SL users are (literally) dying off! However, Second Life still remains popular enough (and a reliable cash cow) to keep merrily coasting along for many years. And with the deep pockets and good connections of the Waterfield investment group (of which Second Life is now a part), the future looks bright.

I wish I could say the same about Sansar, which from my (admittedly limited) perspective, seems to be circling the drain. I wrote the following post in the official Second Life community forums late last year:

I was part of Sansar since I was invited into the closed beta in 2016/2017, and I was there for the whole crazy ride. Sansar is now on life support (the company that bought it from Linden Lab, called Wookey, furloughed all of its staff recently, and I believe that they could shut down at any moment without warning). Being there from beginning to end, I still marvel at how Linden Lab thought they could build a new virtual world/social VR platform and just put it out there, and expect it to sell itself in this competitive marketplace for metaverse platforms. “Build it and they will come” might have worked for SL in 2003 but it sure ain’t gonna work nowadays. You have to PROMOTE yourself to get noticed.

Also, Linden Lab could have done a lot of things to try and entice SL users to a) visit Sansar and b) make them want to stay, build worlds, create content, and form a new community. Instead, what happened is that Second Life folks (rightly or wrongly) saw Sansar as something which distracted LL from its work on SL, and as a result most SL folks hated Sansar and refused to have anything to do with it, hastening its downfall in my opinion. It also didn’t help that Linden Lab made a bet that many people would be owning high-end VR headsets tethered to high-end PCs with good graphics cards, and instead the Oculus Quest wireless headset took off.

I still shake my head and wonder “what if?”. Say a prayer for Sansar, it needs it. 

Right now, Sansar’s best hope for survival in 2022 is for another company who wants to enter the metaverse marketplace to buy the platform from Wookey, much the same as Microsoft stepped in at the eleventh hour to snap up AltspaceVR.

Another prediction: we are going to see an increase in the number of companies providing services to metaverse platforms. Wagner James Au mentions the Linden Lab subsidiary Tilia, which provides financial services, in his blogpost which I linked to up top; I predict that they will land a few more clients this year. Another example of a company doing well in this niche is Ready Player Me, the avatar system currently in use in VRChat and over 1,000 other apps and games on VR, mobile, desktop, and web. Expect this nascent business-to-business sector to explode this year!

Well, that’s it for me, for now. I might update this blogpost with other predictions for 2022 as they come to me.

And I ask you, my faithful readers: what predictions are you making for the next twelve months? Feel free to leave a comment, or use the feedback form on my blog if you’d prefer to contact me directly. You’re also welcome to join the RyanSchultz.com Discord server, a cross-worlds community where over 600 people, with experience in various metaverse platforms, welcome you! Just click the button on the left-side panel of my blog as shown (image right). If you are connecting via a smartphone or tablet instead of your computer desktop, just click the three-bars menu button in the upper-right hand corner, then scroll down until you see the Discord widget displayed.