WoW Character Nerf Caused Ethereum & NFT’s Dark Origin Story

The creator of Ethereum, the inspiration for NFTs, says that his cryptocurrency was inspired by a nerf applied to Warlocks in WoW back in 2010.

Editor’s Note: A lawsuit has been filed against Activision Blizzard by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which alleges the company has engaged in abuse, discrimination, and retaliation against its female employees. Activision Blizzard has denied the allegations. The full details of the Activision Blizzard lawsuit (content warning: rape, suicide, abuse, harassment) are being updated as new information becomes available.

The origins of NFT may have their roots in a World of Warcraft character nerf. World of Warcraft, a juggernaut in the MMO genre and in video games in general, has a far-reaching cultural impact that extends outside of the game itself.


NFTs, or “non-fungible tokens,” have recently become a hot topic, and they’ve attached themselves to a wide variety of industries, including video games. While they mostly appear to be rights to digital artwork, their use has expanded to include actual characters in video games, like in 2020’s Blankos Block Party. As this trend grows in prominence thanks to celebrity endorsements and collaborations, many different companies are hopping on board. Sega has gotten in on the NFT market with their announcement of a Sonic NFT, and there’s a whole company, Mythical Games, that has gained $75 million in financing specifically for NFT games. As quickly as they emerged, NFTs have caught the video game industry’s attention.

Related: Sonic the Hedgehog Fans Are Furious About Sega’s NFT Announcement

A new report from Polygon explains that the creator of Ethereum, Vitalik Buterin, was inspired to look into blockchain after a nerf to the warlock class in WoW upset him to the point that he quit playing the game after a three-year streak. According to Buterin, he was devastated when the warlock spell Siphon Life was nerfed. In his grief, he then went on to research cryptocurrency—specifically Bitcoin—and through this research, came up with the concept of Ethereum. Ethereum spawned NFTs, and now the financial world has been altered in ways no one saw coming. World of Warcraft helping other MMOs like Final Fantasy XIV succeed is a bit more of a one-to-one kind of connection, but the game’s popularity has clearly influenced all kinds of developments in and out of the gaming field.

Buterin went on to discuss his dislike of corporations in general, though he didn’t name-drop Activision Blizzard by name. He discussed his interest in the more open, individualized framework cryptocurrency employs. Even without talking about Activision Blizzard, though, WoW’s marks are all over Ethereum—the name is even shared with a canon World of Warcraft faction. So, even if WoW isn’t directly responsible for NFTs, it has some credit to take.

Whether for good or ill, NFTs seem here to stay and continue to expand their influence in various industries. Some classic Sega games may be NFTs soon, and if such a historic company jumps on board the NFT train, who’s to say which company will follow next? For however long NFTs stick around, they’re sure to leave a lasting impact on the video game industry—just like World of Warcraft has.

Next: Why SEGA Fans Are Upset About NFTs

World of Warcraft is available on PC.

Source: Polygon

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