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STALKER 2 developer cancels NFT plans after blowback

GSC Game World defends, then quickly scraps, controversial plan

The masked face of a STALKER beneath a tattered hood. Key art for STALKER 2. Image: GSC Game World
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

The makers of STALKER 2: Heart of Chernobyl on Thursday evening abandoned plans to introduce NFTs to their post-apocalyptic game, shortly after posting — and quickly deleting — a lengthy defense of the revenue-generating scheme.

“Based on the feedback we received, we’ve made a decision to cancel anything NFT-related in STALKER 2,” GSC Game World tweeted at 6:16 p.m. EST, about 90 minutes after explaining why it was bringing non-fungible tokens for its shooter/RPG.

“The interests of our fans and players are the top priority for the team,” the company added. “We’re making this game for you to enjoy — whatever the cost is. If you care, we care too.”

On Wednesday, the studio and publisher announced plans to “let the community own a piece of STALKER 2,” a sequel to the 2009 cult hit STALKER: Call of Pripyat. In addition to commoditizing in-world items for players to buy and sell among themselves, GSC Game World planned to auction an in-game NPC appearance built on the winning bidder’s likeness.

Among other community platforms, the STALKER subreddit’s response was immediate, indignant, and unified. Fans posted memes rejecting GSC’s plans in vulgar terms, ripped the studio for jumping on the NFT bandwagon before showing actual gameplay in a game due to launch in 2022, and vowed not to buy STALKER 2, which they’ve waited 13 years for.

GSC Game World responded late Thursday afternoon with a defensive, all-caps rebuttal that would be quickly retracted. “GSC Game World is an independent game development studio,” it began, “Just like all the other devs, we need two main resources: time and money.”

the text of a letter to the Stalker 2 community defending plans to introduce NFTs to the 2022 game. Image: Twitter via GSC Game World

“Yesterday, we announced the first tokens — the faces of several NPCs,” GSC Game World continued. “They aren’t even involved in the story. But some of you thought we would go a bit too far from here. That’s why we want to transparently disclose our plans for the future NFTs.”

Those plans were to include “(nick)names of the owners on some in-game desks/walls/etc, ... gloves/tattoos, skins/badges for the multiplayer mode (releasing as a free update after the story campaign) and collectible cards.” The cards would be transacted on the blockchain only, with no integration in STALKER 2.

The players weren’t having it.

About 90 minutes later, GSC Game World posted the apology and retraction.

STALKER 2 was originally announced in 2010 and was slotted for a 2012 release. But GSC Game World’s original incarnation dissolved in late 2011 and the game was formally canceled shortly thereafter.

GSC Game World reformed in 2014, re-announced STALKER 2 in 2018, and during E3 2021 aired a five-minute trailer comprising several in-game cutscenes. STALKER 2 will launch April 28, 2022 on Windows PC via the Epic Games Store and Steam, and Xbox Series X, and will be available on Xbox Game Pass on launch day for both platforms.

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