Discord CEO backs away from hinted NFT integration after backlash – Ars Technica

Discord CEO backs away from hinted NFT integration after backlash

Discord’s CEO is publicly backing away from hints that the gaming-focused social networking company was seeking to integrate non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and cryptocurrency wallets into the platform directly.

The news comes after Jason Citron, who founded and leads the company, tweeted a mockup on Monday of a Discord interface showing integration with crypto products like MetaMask, WalletConnect, and Ethereum in the Discord app (alongside currently integrated services like YouTube, Twitch, etc.). That post led to serious pushback from some Discord users and watchers, leading Citron to send out a tweet backing away from the concept late Wednesday.

“Thanks for all the perspectives everyone,” Citron wrote. “We have no current plans to ship this internal concept. For now, we’re focused on protecting users from spam, scams, and fraud. Web3 has lots of good but also lots of problems we need to work through at our scale. More soon.”

In a statement provided to TechCrunch, Citron added:

We appreciate all the perspectives we’ve been hearing in response to the internal concept you may have seen in a tweet earlier this week and want to clarify we have no plans to ship it at this time. We’re excited about the potential for web3 technology and the positive ways these communities are coming together on Discord, especially those organized around environmentally friendly, creator-focused projects. However, we also recognize there are some problems we need to work through. For now, we’re focused on protecting users from spams, scams, and fraud.

Citron’s statement also comes after Internet Archive Archivist Jason Scott highlighted a now-deleted Discord survey (archived here) asking users about their familiarity with and preferences regarding NFTs and other so-called “web3” technologies. “We’re always exploring and hacking away at things we think will improve Discord for all the communities we serve,” a Discord spokesperson told The Verge earlier this week regarding that survey. “This includes research that helps us learn about what people want.”

Push and pull

Discord has become a popular gathering place for makers and supporters of various NFT-related projects; as the Not Boring newsletter recently noted, the Discord server for popular NFT game Axie Infinity has over 800,000 members. Some NFT projects, like Collab.land, even use bots to limit their Discord group membership to users that hold certain NFTs.

But other Discord users reacted loudly and angrily this week to the idea that their preferred platform might start explicitly catering to the crypto community. “Honestly, if the Discord NFT shit pisses you off, cancel your nitro [paid subscription] immediately and select ‘other’—cite the CEO’s tweet about it as your reasoning why,” read one tweet that received thousands of likes and retweets. “A loud, immediately public drop in revenue is the only thing that will change it at this point.”

On the Discord subreddit, meanwhile, a post urging Discord developers not to support NFTs gained widespread support. A popular thread on Discord’s own support forum also urged the company to “please for the love of god stay away from the NFT trashfire.”

Many of the most vociferous critics pointed to the outsized environmental impact of NFTs as central to their opposition toward Discord’s hinted plans. Others pointed to widespread scams in the space, such as an unlicensed “Squid Game” token that disappeared without a trace after raking in roughly $3.38 million in investment.

Plenty of other gaming companies have also been making vague nods toward NFT plans in recent weeks, though none of those companies seems to know exactly what form that future integration might take. In the meantime, you can always buy an NFT of an Atari cartridge if you want.

Microsoft was rumored to be close to a $10 billion deal to purchase Discord earlier this year, but Discord later said it had ended those acquisition talks to focus on expansion as a standalone company.

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