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Late to the Game(s): Why is Atari selling digital sneakers?

The weird word of cryptocurrency

Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times

You may have seen reports of the Atari VCS, the new Atari “console” which runs a Linux based system for playing compatible PC games and classic Atari games through an emulator. The console, first announced almost four years ago in summer 2017, is widely suspected by some to be vaporware – a piece of software or hardware that will never see final production. 

I think we will see some version of the VCS though. Not because it’s going to be the game changer in the console space that Atari wants to act like it will be; it’s essentially a Linux PC after all. But because it’s a gateway for Atari’s new cryptocurrency project, the Atari Token. 

Atari envisions the Atari Token as a new way to purchase games, game assets, and other downloadable content (DLC). Not just on the VCS either. Atari wants their digital currency to be a standard for purchasing game content across platforms and from various providers. 

In Atari’s ideal digital landscape you’d exchange cash for Atari Tokens. Then you could use those tokens to buy content on your PC, smart phone, tablet, PlayStation, Xbox, or Nintendo console or other gaming device. 

Confused yet? Just wait, we’re about to get to the digital sneakers. 

As part of a publicity stunt to push this virtual currency, Atari recently auctioned off 300 pairs of digital sneakers – 50 pairs each by six different artists – that are backed by a non fungible token (NFT) blockchain tech. 

They also auctioned off a seventh design, a purple shoe that looks as much like a game console as footwear, limited to one pair. 

Other folks can view images of what these shoes look like, but only the owners of the digital assets can actually “own” them, thanks to the NFT tech. 

While the NFT tokens behind the shoes are similar to the tech behind the Atari Token, the cyrptocurrency tech is fungible – meaning it can be traded like-for-like – and the NFT assets are unique, so there are no other “like” items they can be traded for (other than the other 49 pairs of identical sneakers auctioned off for each design). 

The digital assets can be sold or traded among users, and can be “worn” on Snapchat or in the MetaverseMe app, but there is no physical item or asset backing the value of the item. It’s purely digital. 

Despite this, NFTs are growing in popularity – partially because the tech means they can be traded in “limited editions” set by the creator – and digital art assets like the Atari sneakers are often associated with the tech. Music is also beginning to become associated with the tech as well, but an NFT could be represented by literally any type of digital asset. 

Understand now? Me either. 

Suffice it to say that while the digital art assets associated with NFTs have no real physical value, as an abstract idea and a way to create unique digital items the tech behind them is integral to the security and exchangability of cryptocurrencies. Or, at least, that’s what I’m told. 

So, is Atari positioning itself for a future in the digital gaming space outside of developing new games and re-releasing their existing intellectual property? Or is this all a publicity stunt? A way to keep investor attention on the VCS and the Atari Token while they build their virtual Ponzi scheme? 

Who knows. One thing’s for sure, though; those are some awful fancy digital kicks. 

Contact the writer at editor@cartercountytimes.com

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