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The Internet Is Furious Over Sega's New Announcement

In a press release earlier this week (translation via ggx2ac at ResetEra), Sega has announced its plans to begin releasing a ton of new digital content in Summer 2021, including NFTs inspired by some of its greatest franchises and characters. The decision has led to an uproar, particularly from fans of Sonic the Hedgehog — and it's pretty easy to see why.

NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, have been a hot button issue in the art world in recent months, for a number of reasons. As explained by Wired, "NFTs allow you to buy and sell ownership of unique digital items and keep track of who owns them using the blockchain ... [they] can technically contain anything digital, including drawings, animated GIFs, songs, or items in video games." 

However, the environmental impact of this new medium has given rise to concerns surrounding sustainability. Reports from The Verge and artist Memo Akten have shown that the computational power needed to create NFTs has caused the emerging industry's carbon footprint to be disastrously large. 

As researchers continue to look into the environmental effects of NFTs, some people would prefer that major corporations like Sega stay out of the NFT game, at least until more data is available. For instance, the Oscars' decision to create an NFT of Chadwick Boseman recently divided fans of the late "Black Panther" star. Meanwhile, even artists who have had their works turned into NFTs have questioned the decision, such as when comic book artist Gary Frank expressed his "bewilderment" at DC Comics' plans to sell NFTs of a Batman statue inspired by his artwork.

Which brings things back to Sonic the Hedgehog. Fans of the Blue Blur have likewise expressed their confusion and distaste for Sega's decision to sell branded NFTs, particularly when the company's flagship character has always been a champion of protecting the environment. As one fan wrote, "This is the same company who made a specific game that's all about preventing a mechanized and toxic wasteland." And when you put it that way, this whole thing really does start to feel like one of Doctor Eggman's harebrained schemes.

Some gamers are "begging" Sega not to go forward with the NFTs, while others have also mentioned how "disappointing" this announcement is for them. One fan pointed out what they saw as hypocrisy from Sega. They shared an Earth Day post from Sega of America from just over the weekend, which literally told fans some ways they could help the environment and showed Sonic trying to conserve electricity. This tonal disconnect has led some fans to believe that there is next to zero communication between Sega of America and Sega Japan.

Sega has yet to respond to the fan outcry, but it's clear that this announcement has struck a chord with Sonic the Hedgehog devotees.