Following a year of wild twist and turns, retail’s most indefatigable underdog has introduced its next act. GameStop will launch a marketplace for non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in partnership with the blockchain platform Immutable X.
The GameStop NFT Marketplace is expected to launch later this year and is the first major initiative from new CEO Matt Furlong, who joined the company in June 2021 following the departure of previous CEO George Sherman in April 2021.
During Sherman’s time at the helm, GameStop saw sales tank and losses top $700 million, but he left the company $170 million richer thanks to the efforts of retail investors. GameStop made headlines for more than just rapidly shuttering stores and rocketed to “meme stock” status in early 2021 when small investors teamed up online and purchased shares that turbocharged the company’s stock price, forcing hedge funds that had bet against the flailing retailer to lose billions.
A series of wild ups and downs followed, as did lawsuits and a lot of existential soul-searching on Wall Street. But in the background, the retailer was laying the groundwork for a less volatile comeback. In March 2021, the GameStop board formed a strategic committee aimed at “identifying actions that can transform GameStop into a technology business and help create enduring value for stockholders.”
The fact that new CEO Furlong hails from Amazon, as does the company’s new CFO Mike Recupero and Chief Growth Officer Elliot Wilke, is no coincidence. GameStop is aiming to reinvent itself as a “technology company,” and alongside more mundane efforts like expanding its ecommerce fulfillment capabilities, the upcoming NFT marketplace is a major stake in the digital ground.
GameStop and Immutable X have established a fund of up to $100 million in Immutable X’s IMX tokens that will be granted to NFT creators to “stock” the marketplace. Creators from gaming studios, web 3.0, metaverse gaming developers and others can actively request to be a content creator on GameStop’s NFT marketplace. GameStop also stands to earn up to $150 million in IMX tokens “upon the achievement of certain milestones,” although what those milestones were was not detailed.
Only time will tell if this is GameStop’s “Netflix Moment” — the epic pivot that completely revives the business and brings it to new heights — or simply the final flailing of a retailer that clung to a dying model for just a bit too long.