From Hype to PR Disaster: The Story of Creator League

Credit: eFuse

Last week, Jimmy “MrBeast” Donaldson promoted the launch of Creator League. It was billed as an esports tournament featuring eight top influencers in the video game space and beyond, and one where fans would be able to participate — both as players and stakeholders.

The central component of Creator League was the Founders Edition Community Pass, which would grant fans the ability to join the teams of their favorite influencer. Additional perks included shaping the league through voting, drafting the influencer’s team, participating in sweepstakes, and joining an exclusive Discord server.

In none of the communication from the League were the words “non-fungible tokens” or “cryptocurrency.”

Then, slowly, word leaked: The Community Passes were in fact NFTs, a technology that has caused controversy in the gaming space. One influencer made a much-publicized X post, saying he was planning to pull out and apologizing to his fans for promoting the project.

This is the story of a hyped esports tournament gone wrong, the controversial nature of NFTs in the gaming industry, and the problem with deception. Let’s dive in.

Creator League Promotion Starts with a Bang

When the promotion for Creator League started, it swept through social media. And the reason is simple: The participants in the League and the main promoter were social media stars, some of the top influencers in the world.

The leader was MrBeast himself, promising users a free box of Feastables (a food brand created by the YouTube legend) if they purchased a Founders Edition Community Pass by September 9th. Although he wouldn’t have any direct involvement in the tournament, his promotion would lend it a “megaphone.”

eFuse, the company behind Creator League, was certainly betting on it. Matthew Benson told Forbes that the mentality was, “if you’re gonna go for the big shot” with this kind of project, you might as well make it as big as you can go. And MrBeast has the most social media reach in perhaps the entire world.

But MrBeast wasn’t alone. The list of influencers participating in Creator League were on a level above. They included:

  • OpTic Gaming
  • OTK
  • Vinnie Hacker
  • iShowSpeed
  • CDawgVA
  • Bella Poarch

The goal of the tournament was straightforward: Rather than traditional esports, where fans are generally relegated to the background, Creator League would put them front and center, competing with their favorite stars and shaping the tournament itself. eFuse would manage this through the Community Pass.

Quickly, Creator League generated hype. Then, controversy set it.

The Community Pass = NFT, Bedlam Ensues

It’s not quite certain when word leaked that the Community Passes were non-fungible tokens. Equally important is that it’s not sure who knew and when. Media kits about the tournament made no mention of the tech, and only significant research into the payment processor for the Community Passes revealed the truth.

But there’s no doubt the backlash was severe. Influencers, many of whom had made documented statements about their dislike of NFTs and Web3 tech in the past, had been left in the dark and voiced their displeasure on social media. One was CDawgVA. His post Sunday morning on X seemed to echo the frustrations of those deceived:

Another influencer involved as a team leader, Tips Out, said they had not been made aware of the NFT aspect and were waiting on word from the company behind the tournament. It seemed quickly that Creator League was falling apart.

Gamers vs. NFTs: a Primer

Before we get into the NFT space’s response to the controversy, a look into gamers’ attitudes towards Web3 tech is worth doing. Although it may seem like video game players are simply ardent haters of NFTs, a closer examination shows that the gap between Web3 and gaming can be bridged.

In our research for Web3 gaming articles over the past two years, we have seen it all: accusations that NFTs are bad for the environment, serve no purpose, create artificial scarcity when there really is no scarcity at all. Many of these accusations are bandied by irresponsible publications and their writers who want to play off the misunderstanding of NFTs for clicks.

But there are also genuine concerns. Some of them include:

  • NFTs often don’t add much to gameplay
  • Web3 games exist only to make people money
  • Adding NFTs to games will turn games into “pay-to-win”

And then the big one: That gamers may play these titles to escape from a world that is an ever-tightening financial trap and don’t want to deal with that reality when playing games to relax and unwind.

The tide, on most of these points, however, may be turning.

NFL Rivals, a popular Web3 game, is offering a free version where you don’t need NFTs to play and a premium version where players can trade non-fungible tokens. Other Web3 gaming studios are trying to make their gameplay better, incorporating better graphics, and reducing profit motive. The bridge between gamers and Web3 may eventually be built.

But deception is not the answer.

The NFT Space Responds

Given that the influencers made posts on X, there was little doubt that they’d reach the feeds of NFT influencers and denizens in the Web3 space. And they responded in kind, with humor of course, which is the Web3 way, but also by showing a different perspective. For instance, consider this post from Mike Three:

Others used similar analogies, substituting the language in CDawgVA’s post from “Blockchain technology” and “NFT’s” to comparable tech used to make the internet function, like C++, an object-oriented programming language used for large-scale applications. The point was simple: Blockchain and NFTs are simply another form of technology. There is no need for “vocal hatred.”

Hating Web3 tech is akin to being against coding languages, SSL protocols, TCP/IP, or other tech that makes our digital world function. There is no reason to it. Cryptocurrencies and NFTs are simply tools, which people can use for good or bad purposes. Intrinsically, they are just that.

Final Thoughts on the Creator League Controversy

There’s still no word on whether Creator League will move forward or if the influencers will pull out, rendering the tournament essentially dead. Although it seems like the backlash to NFTs was strong, we here at Rarity Sniper don’t believe it necessarily was that. The company behind the League deceived its stakeholders.

And we, crypto native or not, can all agree is bad.

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