Yesterday tech journalist Alex Hern, who has been making comparatively gentle fun of the crypto crash, pointed out that he didn’t Tweet about bitcoin in the boom times “because it wasn’t funny then.” So, after we posted yesterday about a crypto fan who very shoddily stole Itch and for some reason tagged Itch’s founder in a tweet about it, allow me to bring you the news that some No Man’s Sky players have come up with what I think is the most useful application of a crypto currency I’ve seen. And it works because it is deliberately valueless.
This is as reported by Vice, who interviewed members of The Galactic Hub, a player community that initially formed as a way to compensate for No Man’s Sky’s lack of co-op at launch in 2016.
Now, years later, The Galactic Hub have found more and more players are reaching the end-game of Hello Games’ space survival epic, where you’re powerful enough to duplicate items or otherwise get them through exploits. Thus, the in-game currencies are useless to you. But you still might want stuff from other players (help with designing, bulding, or customising your base, for example). Enter Hub Coin.
Hub Coin is a cyptocurrency that exists on an Etherium testnet, kind of the cryptocurrency version of monopoly money. You can still trade it for stuff, but not, like, real stuff with any value. To make sure nobody gets any ideas about what the real-life value of Hub Coin should be, The Galactic Hub (which now has a Treasury) has ruled that it can’t be exchanged for actual money. The only value it has is in No Man’s Sky.
Hub Coin seems to have been modestly successful so far, because its purpose is to facilitate having fun in a video game, not pump value so whales can cash out of their Herbalife-but-for-bros scheme. I find it very funny that the best example of cryptocurrency use I have encountered works because it is opt-in, small scale, and is worth, in real terms, nothing. By design!
Still, Hub Coin has some problems. The community’s biggest concern before Hub Coin launched was environmental impact. Although Hub Coin switched from proof-of-work to proof-of-authority to generate new coins, and thus has less environmental impact, “less” can be a relative term in crypto – but I can’t speak to how much power Hub Coin is actually burning. Looking ahead, The Galactic Hub are also anticipating problems with inflation, as they scale up from the roughly 150 players using Hub Coin right now.
Personally I think the biggest problem is that it’s a cryptocurrency, but that’s me. No Man’s Sky itself, meanwhile, recovered from a rocky launch with continued support and loads of free updates over the years (the most recent update, Outlaws, came only a couple of months ago).