News roundup - what is making waves

24 May 2021

What caused this week’s huge crypto market crash?

Could the trial between Epic Games and Apple change how games are developed?

Why is everyone going mad for NFTs?

This week we look at huge changes happening in the crypto and gaming industries and discuss how they could influence the future of these industries. 

What’s happening in the cryptocurrency markets? 

The cryptocurrency market spiralled out of control this week. As a result, more than a third of all value was temporarily wiped from the market.

On the 14th of April 2021, Coinbase shares became available on Nasdaq, selling between $310 and $429 per share throughout the day. The total listing was valued at $75.9B, comparable to Facebook's IPO in 2012.

Coinbase found early success by quelling many investors' fears of theft, a recurring problem on early crypto exchanges, by storing users' crypto in 'cold' storage (offline, in other words) and offering free insurance. The company's insurance policy pays out for any crypto lost in the event of a breach.

The company's CEO Brian Armstrong stated, "It feels like a shift in legitimacy not just for Coinbase but the whole industry. Crypto has a shot at being a major force in the financial world". Armstrong founded Coinbase after working for Airbnb as a software engineer with the help of Goldman Sachs trader Fred Ehrsam. Going by Armstrong's Forbes profile, his wealth sits at a little over $12B, making him the 404th wealthiest person on earth.

On the face of it, Coinbase’s IPO seems like good news.

However, some financial analysts already claim the stock is massively overvalued, as the company has almost no chance of repeating its recent profits unless the crypto market continues surging skyward. As President Biden is contemplating high taxes on investment gains, this bull run seems unlikely to continue.

If Coinbase's IPO is overvalued, it could heap pressure on cryptos to continue growing rapidly, which is unlikely and could result in many new investors falling for the hype, getting burned in the inevitable crash and lowering their trust in cryptocurrencies.

On the other hand, plenty of crypto enthusiasts feel the Coinbase listing is a long-overdue vindication, and the listing establishes cryptocurrencies as a legitimate investment. 

The gaming industry could go through huge changes this year 

The battle for the gaming ecosystem rages on this week in the Epic Games vs Apple trial in California, USA.

The gaming industry could go through huge changes this year 

The battle for the gaming ecosystem rages on this week in the Epic Games vs Apple trial in California, USA.

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Gaming's popularity is growing exponentially. Tournaments boast enormous prizes that are currently only accessible to elite pro players. 

In August 2020, Epic Games, Fortnite's developer, brought a lawsuit challenging Apple's monopoly over the app market.

Epic Games claims Apple takes too large a cut from developers profits considering its market share (Apple currently takes a 30% cut on all profits from apps sold through its app store). During the trial's preliminary stages, Apple has already stated it has made more than $100 million in commissions from offering Fortnite through its app store. Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney has questioned Apple's 30% cut for years previous to the lawsuit and questioned the need for other digital stores like Steam and Google Play.

Sweeney argued the companies could easily run their services and make a handsome profit from around an 8% cut, or slightly higher.   Epic Games even created the Epic Games Store, which operated with a 12% revenue cut, proving Apple's cut was excessive. In an interview on CNBC, Sweeney commented that "Apple has locked down and crippled the ecosystem by inventing an absolute monopoly on the distribution of software, on the monetisation of software".

Apple has countered, arguing that its 30% revenue cut "reflects the immense value of the App Store".   Apple also contends that all apps available through the app store meet "high standards for privacy, security, content and quality", so its 30% cut is fair.

Should Epic Games win the lawsuit, it could mark a historic chance for the gaming industry to move in a different direction.   A direction where developers can pass on savings to customers. This would make apps and games more affordable, as developers no longer need to pay such large amounts of money to Apple, Google, and other games platforms.

Other technology companies like Spotify and Match Group (which owns Tinder) have publicly supported Epic Games lawsuit against Apple. This trial is definitely worth keeping an eye on, as the outcome could drastically alter how games are developed for generations.

The market for digital art carries on booming!

NFTs (Non-fungible tokens) started entering the mainstream a short while ago when the artists Beeple sold a collection of digital artworks through Christie's auction house for a massive $69 million.   The sale smashed all previous records and made the artist (real name Mike Winkelmann) the third most valuable living artist.

NFTs allow any online content like Tweets, pictures and video clips to become tradeable digital assets. It basically allows anyone to sell any digital content they want to make some cash. Plenty of artists and corporations are jumping on the bandwagon to see if they can make a buck.

As those on the internet in 2007 will remember, the 'Charlie bit my finger" video was among the most memorable early memes. It was watched by more than 880 million people. The clip owners - the boy's parents - are selling the clip as an NFT and are offering the highest bidder the chance to make a parody clip with boys.

Another infamous meme, the Disaster Girl - which features a smiling child gazing eerily into the camera while a house burns in the background, was recently sold for $500,000 at auction. The NFT is marked with a code that will allow the sellers to keep the copyright and receive 10% of any future sale's profits.

Manchester City football club is the latest corporation to release an NFT collection. This weeks release commemorates their 2021 Premier League win. The club commented that they believe NFTs could help football clubs help engage with fans, particularly when stadiums are half full at best during matchdays.   Individual models are also cashing in on NFT mania. For example, through the Foundation app, you can now bid on a selection of photos of model Kate Moss called "Sleep with Kate", "Drive with Kate", and "Walk with Kate".

While creators are primarily using NFTs to sell digital artworks, their future uses are extremely exciting. Luxury goods could start selling with NFTs certifying their authenticity. People buying and selling houses could do so with rock bottom fees by using NFTs to certify ownership.

Whether NFTs will hold their value in the future remains to be seen, but the world is gripped with NFT mania for now.


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