Crowdfunding platform Kickstarter has announced the development of a “decentralized protocol,” which, in technical speak, means the company is moving its operations to blockchain technology. The crowdfunding site will make use of the Celo blockchain for this purpose.
In a blog post by CEO Aziz Hasan and co-founder Perry Chen on Thursday, the crowdfunding platform announced that its “commitment to a more open, collaborative, and decentralized future” via blockchain, the technology behind cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. The first step will be establishing an independent organization that will oversee the development of an open-source, blockchain-based system that more or less works the way Kickstarter already does. When it’s complete, Kickstarter will switch to it. This protocol will eventually be available to anyone, Kickstarter said, including upstarts trying to compete with it.
“As a first step, we’re supporting the development of an open-source protocol that will essentially create a decentralized version of Kickstarter’s core functionality,” Hasan and Chen wrote in the post. “This will live on a public blockchain, and be available for collaborators, independent contributors, and even Kickstarter competitors, from all over the world to build upon, connect to, or use. We think bringing all that we’ve learned about crowdfunding since 2009 to inform the development of a decentralized protocol will open up exciting new opportunities for creative projects to come to life.”
Kickstarter promised to use a “carbon-negative” blockchain called Celo, which reportedly requires a significantly smaller amount of energy to complete a proof-of-work transaction than more prominent blockchains such as Bitcoin.
However, the announcement made little mention of concrete ways this change gives creators more control over their projects, though it did say, anyone who’s interested, be they competitor or collaborator, will have a say in how the platform evolves. However, who will oversee these changes and implement suggestions remains to be seen.
Kickstarter’s announcement comes amid widespread adoption of blockchain technology in the gaming sector and beyond, and it’s not without criticism: Ubisoft recently unveiled its first foray into blockchain, and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) called Ubisoft Quartz. The program sells personalized pieces of armor for use in Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Breakpoint, each with their own unique serial number.
Electronic Arts has also announced its intention to pursue NFTs in gaming, though admitted uncertainty about how they’ll actually work.
Many startup gaming companies have also expressed an interest in the sector, including Neon, a new developer from industry veteran Mark Long. The company is building a blockchain-enabled first-person shooter game that will allow the minting and trading of NFTs.
Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier says any intention to incorporate blockchain technology in gaming is “investor baiting,” promising a solution to a problem that doesn’t even exist.
“Game companies are investing in blockchain because it sounds like it could be something cool one day, not because it has practical applications right now,” Schreier said. “The vision is really only practical for one specific scenario: multiple games made by a single company that has a vested interest in letting players transfer loot within its ecosystem. But that’s already been possible for years thanks to save files and account systems.”
Kickstarter was created in 2009 and has handled more than $6 billion of pledges for 200,000 projects. Along with Patreon and GoFundMe, it is one of the largest creator funding platforms.