The world of non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, has been a controversial one almost from the moment the first ones were released. Never has that been clearer than in the case of Poppy Playtime, however. The episodic indie horror game was first released in October 2022, with many taking to it thanks to the scary characters that it offered as well as the associated puzzle games. Although it was relatively quick to play, people became intrigued by characters like Huggy Wuggy and were intrigued to see where it would end up next, depending on where the game-makers took it.
MOB Games, the developers of Poppy Playtime, decided that the right thing to do was to release some Poppy Playtime-themed NFTs. Whilst they saw this as a chance to allow fans of the game to have some digital collectibles that were linked to it, many of those that enjoyed playing the game were quick to mock it and post negative reviews on the game’s Steam page. What made things worse was that it was promised that owning all of the NFTs would give fans a chance to play a new puzzle, but that turned out to be something of a big bag of nothing and left people annoyed and disappointed.
What Is Poppy Playtime?
The first chapter of Poppy Playtime was introduced on Steam on the 12th of October, 2021. It introduced people to the episodic horror video game that had been developed by the American indie game developer Mob Entertainment, with players taking on the role of a former employee of a toy-making company called Playtime Co. The employee heads back to an abandoned toy factory in order to try to figure out why its staff disappeared a decade before, navigating through the place via first-person perspective and solving puzzles along the way, avoiding enemies.
The second chapter of the story was released on the 15th of August, 2022 and the third chapter scheduled in for the winter of 2023. The game’s first chapter garnered positive reviews from players, who enjoyed its gameplay and the challenging nature of the puzzles. The second chapter was less positive from reviews, with bugs reported in the way that it worked. The need to solve puzzles in order to progress in the game was part of the appeal, whilst the Five Nights at Freddy’s style also meant that lovers of the horror genre enjoyed that aspect of it.
In the December of 2021, the developers of Poppy Playtime announced that they would be releasing non-fungible tokens of the in-game posters. This announcement quickly received negative reviews from within the community, with some users asking for refunds. The game’s producers quickly deleted their announcement, but they had signed a contract over the production of the NFTs and were unable to remove them. As well as the NFTs themselves, it was confirmed that there would be an additional puzzle available to anyone who collected all six of them.
The puzzle was hidden within a series of audio clips that were playable upon obtaining the NFTs. The first six clips offered distorted-voiced lyrics, with the seventh clip, which was only available to those who bought all six of the NFTs, provided a cipher to hint at how the lyrics should be put together. In the end, the final clip said, “Mommy Long Legs is coming”. That was intended to be a preview of the next chapter in the game’s series, with fans being angry at the way in which MOB Games had chosen to tease the second chapter for players.
Each of the NFTs cost $14.99 to buy, meaning that a player would need to spend $89.94 in order to but all six of them. That was obviously an expensive way of working out the puzzle, with many thinking that it was tantamount to putting the puzzle behind a paywall. Reviews of the game on Steam started to plummet, having previously been mostly positive, with nearly a third of them becoming negative. Zach Belanger, the Chief Executive Officer of MOB Games, said that it was never intended to put the game behind a paywall, with proceeds from the sale of NFTs going to the Clean Air Task Force group.
NFTs Weren’t the Only Issue
Whilst the statement from the game developer’s CEO went some way to addressing the NFT issue, it was far from the only one that Poppy’s Playtime has faced. Around the time of its initial release, Ekrcoaster, another developer, claimed that the game was plagiarised from his game, Venge. It was an accusation that was given further credence on account of the fact that some of those working for MOB Games had previously worked for Ekrcoaster. There were also some allegations of bullying that were put forward by people working for the company.
Belanger made an attempt to address the plagiarism accusations in his statement about the NFT issue. He said that there had never been an attempt to plagiarise the game, seemingly thinking that that put an end to the matter. The fact that Chapter 2 of the game was so buggy that many players struggled to even make it to the end of it didn’t help the company’s fortunes. There were many who withdrew their support from MOB Games as a result of the various feelings of shady practices. Many, though, have stuck with the company and were excited to play Chapter 3.
There was also concern in 2022 after Dorset Police and the County Sheriff’s Department of Lafayette released a statement about the character Huggy Wuggy. The fact that it had such a child-friendly name meant that it was not being blocked by numerous firewalls. As a result, many platforms like TikTok and YouTube Kids failed to stop the scary character from appearing in front of children. There were also concerns that many young people were imitating the behaviour of the characters, including some in Uruguay who self-harmed with pencils after seeing it in the game.