Let me start right off the bat with the disclaimer that this is not an April Fool’s joke. Atari, or rather, the corporate entity that now runs the shell of the beleaguered video game company, has jumped on the non-fungible token hype train to shamelessly cash in on that arcade nostalgia.
The NFTs, “limited edition” digital collectibles based on the company’s slew of retro video game titles, are being sold in a series of auctions as part of the Atari Capsule Collection. This week, the first lot—110 tokens representing 3D models of the Atari 2600 game cartridge for Centipede—collectively sold for roughly $110,00o worth of the cryptocurrency Ether, according to Ars Technica.
Atari said future auctions will include renditions of in-game scenes from several of its titles, 3D collectibles based on Pong, and “the first quarter inserted into the first Pong arcade game at Andy Capp’s Bar in 1972, based on the actual physical quarter owned by Al Alcorn.” (It just looks like a regular old quarter, but that’s sadly still far from the dumbest thing people have made into NFTs to date). The company also plans to auction off a 3D model of a Centipede arcade cabinet digitally signed by the game’s co-creator Dona Bailey that will come bundled with a real-life, restored Centipede arcade cabinet.
In case you haven’t been following this NFT mania, each token is an ostensibly one-of-a-kind digital item that the blockchain keeps track of who owns the file. Fans shelled out between $180.78 to more than $18,000 for these Centipede NFTs, which is particularly baffling when you consider that you can get a working physical copy on eBay right now for around $5. It just goes to show that we’ve yet to reach peak NFT saturation—you can own a fart, you can own a tweet, and now you can own a 3D model of an antiquated piece of ‘80s tech that’s hundreds of times more expensive than the real deal.