Pixelmon via OpenSea

Lessons on buying NFTs from that Pixelmon launch

The Pixelmon NFT launch was one of the largest in NFT history so far. But was it too big for its creator? Many who were interested in the project ended up being disappointed at the actual unveiling of the artworks. Here’s everything you need to know about the incident and some lessons we can learn about NFT shopping. 

The Pixelmon NFT Explained

The Pitch

Martin van Blerk, known by his pseudo name Syber, is the man behind the Pixelmon madness.

Syber pitched the game as an open world RPG-style NFT game. You can find, trade, train, fight, and evolve your Pixelmons. The best part is, Pixelmon Gen1 NFT owners get special perks like better in-game earnings, limited release items, and early access to the game.

The Hype

Syber started making noise about Pixelmon in late 2021, building hype by constantly tweeting about the game. He shared a ton of sneak peaks and motivating tweets urging everyone to buy into his new, revolutionary metaverse game.

The hype stage went on for months, up until the “hatching”, which is what he called the metadata reveal day for Pixelmon Gen1 NFT owners. Up until that point, all the minted NFTs had a placeholder dataset.

A lot of buyers were excited. It was like modern-day metaverse Pokémon cards!

Launch Day

Pixelmon NFTs were sold in a Dutch auction on OpenSea with a floor price of 3ETH. Within a few hours they sold out, earning Syber more than 19800ETH (close to $70million at the time).

Responses to Pixelmon

The day was February 25th. It was finally time for the Pixelmon hatching. Unfortunately, it was also the day thousands of minters were thoroughly let down.

Where people expected to have awesome 3D characters like these:

…they actually ended up with half-baked, sometimes broken models like these:

Pixelmon’s artwork can best be described as “we have Pokémon at home”. One particular Pixelmon, dubbed “Kevin” by the community, became the meme face of the whole debacle.

While the floor price for Kevin is around 4.75ETH, most Pixelmon NFTs have tanked to an average of less than 1ETH, with the floor price hitting 0.25ETH on March 9th.

 Pixelmon holders weren’t happy with the results, to say the least. The artwork reveal has become the laughing stock of the cryptosphere.

How Did Pixelmon’s Creator Respond?

On Twitter and Discord, a lot of people reached out to Syber to get his side of the story and see what he had to say for himself.

Syber took to Discord to address the disappointing reveals:

“I’m not going to sugar coat it – we made a horrible mistake. We felt pressured to push reveal and the reality is we weren’t ready to push the art work. What we have now was built before we raised any funding raised from our NFT sales. Our immediate next steps to resolve these issues are to pledge $2,000,000 in order to completely revamp and redesign our NFTs at a higher quality.”

At the same time, the dev wallet for Pixelmon moved about 280ETH right after the minting, buying into Bored Apes, Azuki, and CloneX NFTs. The wallet also swapped $1.3million worth of ETH for USDC, with another 13ETH going to an exchange.

Hindsight Revelations about Pixelmons

Although a lot of people believed Syber had a whole team behind Pixelmon, Twitter user @NFTherder sleuthed around and posted a whole thread revealing what was going on in the background.

Apparently, Syber worked on the entire NFT project himself. For the impressive marketing images, he purchased artwork models from MeshTent Studio and hired an unwitting Upwork freelancer to make a few modifications for the pre-mint marketing.

The actual artwork is a set of pre-made Unity models that got turned into voxels.

How to Buy Better in the NFT Space

Pixelmon is another case study in a long string of bad NFTs. The only silver lining is that you can take a few tips away from the whole fiasco. 

Be careful buying into non-existent projects

Pixelmon had no clear roadmap going into the launch. Before an NFT game gets to the point of minting, they should have a development roadmap. You should know what you’re buying into before you spend anything.

Don’t settle for concept art or vision casting. Look for a real plan that clearly lays out the stages of development. This is true for any type of project NFT, not just games.

Second guess industry newcomers

Look, it’s not a crime to be new to minting NFTs. Everyone has to start somewhere. BUT, you should take a second look at newcomers offering enormous promises when they have no proof they can deliver.

In Syber’s case, it’s even worse than that. Not only did he have no track record minting NFTs, he also has no history making games, working with blockchain, or anything else that would be relevant to Pixelmon.

Before you buy into a collection, take a look at who you’re buying from. 

Don’t fall for hype marketing

Every scam artist tells you they’re the next big thing. When promoting an upcoming launch, the minter will probably say things like “it’s the next blue chip” or “going straight to the moon”. They might even have a lite paper about how they’re going to change the industry forever with their innovative idea that no one has ever done before.

These are the same tactics scam artists have been using for thousands of years. If someone you don’t know or trust is telling you to buy NOW or you’ll regret it, you might just want to wait it out. 

Do your own research

Unfortunately, a lot of people dropped the ball on performing their due diligence. Somehow, Syber got a few solidity devs to back his project, even though he didn’t have anything to show for it.

A little bit of research goes a long way. There’s a lot to unpack about Pixelmon and Syber himself.

Let’s break it down:

  1. The name Pixelmon is a ripoff from a Minecraft mod by the same name, which turns Pokémon into blocky Minecraft mobs for you to catch to your heart’s content.
  2. Pixelmon only had a one-page website at the time of minting and nothing else.
  3. Syber has been connected to multiple Kickstarter scams that were funded, but never delivered to their backers. Sound familiar?

Although these lessons might not make the Pixelmon Gen1 owners feel any better, they could help you sidestep a bad deal in the future. Additionally, be sure to use as many security features as possible when using an NFT marketplace to protect yourself from hackers. Securing your NFTs (or any digital asset) with a hardware wallet is always the way to go. 

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