Showcase platform ArtStation steps back from NFT proof-of-concept after backlash

The popular digital art platform ArtStation rescinded its decision to undertake a non-fungible token (NFTs) proof-of-concept after receiving backlash from users. 

ArtStation announced the move in a post on Tuesday, stating:

“We feel that NFTs are a transformative technology that can make significant, positive change for digital artists. It’s our hope that at some point in the future we’ll be able to find a solution that is equitable and ecologically sound. It will take time for us to reflect on this and we’ll do our best to earn back your trust.”

Numerous user critiques centered on energy consumption and carbon emissions associated with blockchain networks, with one user saying that ArtStation would be “actively trying to destroy the earth" if it offered them. ArtStation did not immediately respond for comment.

Many users cited, a website calculating the carbon footprint of NFTs, as evidence that NFTs are too environmentally costly. For example, the site calculated that an NFT called “Coronavirus” consumed 192 kWh of energy to create — the equivalent of a European Union resident’s energy consumption for two and a half weeks. However, critics of those specific arguments say the costs highlighted by such tools are more reflective of the platforms' performance and resource efficiency than the NFT creations themselves. 

The developments come as NFT artworks experience what could be described as a mainstream — if not hype-driven — moment. American icons such as football player Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski and fast-food chain Taco Bell have all released NFTs within the past week.