OpenSea Delisted This Game’s NFTs—Then the Creators Got Their Revenge

By Decrypt February 26, 2024 In NFTs, OpenSea, Twitter
OpenSeason is a battle royale game with NFT-inspired heroes. Image: Fractional Uprising Studios
OpenSeason is a battle royale game with NFT-inspired heroes. Image: Fractional Uprising Studios

A reference to an NFT marketplace might not stand out in a game like OpenSeason. After all, the Fortnite-like battle royale shooter is drenched in colorful crypto memes, including a Pepe-themed amusement park plus Bored Apes and Milady avatars running around.

But when the “tribute” in question is the flaming wreckage of a ship next to a dock labeled “OpenSea”—and you consider the game’s title—then it’s bound to grab attention. And it’s personal, too.

The burning effigy to OpenSea, first shared via Twitter this month, is game developer Fractional Uprising Studios’ winking response to an enforcement action taken by the NFT marketplace. OpenSea delisted the studio’s Ethereum NFT passes, which offer access to the game and other perks, including in-game items and potential token airdrop rewards.

“We already had a plan to add some OpenSea lore to the game,” pseudonymous co-founder Krypticrooks told Decrypt’s GG. But the plans changed after OpenSea took action. It would still be a boat at a dock, but no longer floating in calm waters.

Our friends as @opensea falsely disabled our collection and denied us an appeal.

So we decided to add some more NFT lore to ‘OpenSeason’. What do you think?@opunshizun @EpicGames

— Fractional Uprising Studios (@FU_STUDIOS) February 1, 2024

“After the delist, [co-founder] Spoobs decided that it needed to be on fire, with hints near the dock that it was the FU Studios team’s doing,” he said. “Very cheeky, and a light stab at them.”

Fractional Uprising tweeted a short video clip earlier this month, alleging that OpenSea had “falsely disabled our collection.” Decrypt reviewed the team’s email interactions with OpenSea customer service agents, who told the studio that the collection had been delisted. While you can still view the project via OpenSea, the NFTs cannot be listed or traded.

An OpenSea representative confirmed to Decrypt that the project was delisted for violating its terms of service. The rep pointed to the section of the terms that includes statements that prohibit “using the service to carry out any financial activities” related to “creating, offering, selling, or buying securities, commodities, options, or debt instruments.”

OpenSeason's in-game OpenSea "lore"
OpenSeason’s in-game OpenSea “lore.” Image: Fractional Uprising Studios

“As stated in our terms of service, any party that seeks to carry out the offering of financial instruments on OpenSea is in direct violation of the company’s policy and is subject to enforcement actions, including delisting, and in some instances, account banning,” the OpenSea representative told Decrypt.

Similar language was shared with the Fractional Uprising team when they inquired about the delisting. They replied with the message, “We have not offered, and have no plans to offer, any securities offering of any kind and respectively appeal.”

OpenSea’s customer service agent replied that they were “unable to change this decision.”

‘OpenSeason’, (@opunshizun) multiplayer battle royale is LIVE on @EpicGames in 8 days!

Comment below which faction you will represent:@MiladyMaker333 @RemilioBaby @pepecoineth @KanpaiPandas @RetroDogesNFT @cryptopunksnfts

— Fractional Uprising Studios (@FU_STUDIOS) February 20, 2024

The studio founders are upset about the lack of transparency. While OpenSea’s form letter response to the team did not get into specific details, the developers don’t believe that their project description offered incentives or promises of financial gain that are out of line with what other NFT projects have done. The inability to appeal was especially frustrating for them.

“It’s basically just closing the door, and you don’t have any say,” said Krypticrooks. “They’re a private company. I guess they can do whatever they want, but they deserve to have the reputation that precedes them. They’re not acting very ‘Web3,’ in my opinion.”

OpenSea declined to comment further to Decrypt beyond confirming the delisting and stated reason. But the complaint that OpenSea is “more corporate” or “less Web3” than rival platforms is not a new one amongst traders, particularly as it has leaned on venture capital funding and consistently ignored calls to launch its own crypto token to benefit users and share governance.

About one year ago, however, rival Blur rapidly overtook OpenSea when it offered BLUR token rewards. OpenSea is still a big name, but there are more popular projects now in terms of trading volume—which means being delisted from OpenSea alone is no longer the kiss of death that it might have been for projects back in 2021 or 2022.

And while it doesn’t (or shouldn’t) explain the delisting, the makers of OpenSeason have poked fun at the marketplace in the past. The game’s name was meant to be a cross between the one-time NFT giant and the concept of “open season” in hunting, they said.

Furthermore, the team previously shared a fake cease and desist letter from OpenSea’s purported lawyers in July 2023 as a marketing gimmick, pretending that the marketplace was taking action over the similar branding. The founders claim that some OpenSea employees reached out at the time to say it was a funny gag.

wtf we just got a Cease and Desist from @opensea

— Fractional Uprising Studios (@FU_STUDIOS) July 28, 2023

In any case, Fractional Uprising is carrying on without OpenSea. The NFT passes are still listed via Blur, among other marketplaces, and OpenSeason is just days away from its debut—the PC game will be released in early access via the Epic Games Store on February 29, with the NFT serving as the ticket into the battle royale showdowns.

Based on trailers and early gameplay footage streamed to Twitter, OpenSeason looks like an even more cartoonish riff on Fortnite’s survival-based shooter gameplay, with the “Island of Jpeg” loaded with crypto memes and avatars based on CryptoPunks, Bored Apes, and beyond. The team said they have hundreds of crypto references that they plan to pack in over time.

Hey, @VitalikButerin. Is that you?

It is. Welcome to the Island of Jpeg in ‘OpenSeason’.

Get your membership to play the alpha on 2/29/24!@opunshizun @EpicGames



— Fractional Uprising Studios (@FU_STUDIOS) February 19, 2024

OpenSeason will also launch a competitive mode in which players can find and use in-game “beans,” akin to the points systems of other crypto apps and protocols. They can be used to power up your character or waged on matches—as well as exchanged for the studio’s planned token, called FUmoney.

While Krypticrooks sees OpenSea as “bullies,” he admitted that the run-in has given the game some extra “lore” to tap as Fractional Uprising builds out OpenSeason’s curious crypto skirmishes. And Spoobs said there’s still one potential way that OpenSea can mend fences.

“If they do an airdrop, we’ll forgive them,” he said.

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