Crypto exchange Coinbase has brought back the much-memed Pixelmon video game character “Kevin” as an NFT collectible in summer attire—both to celebrate the launch of its new Base network and also to provide various benefits to holders.
Minting the collectible—which costs $2 or just under $2 worth of Ethereum (0.001 ETH)—on Ethereum scaling network Base gives buyers entry into a raffle for an in-game NFT egg, “perks” for a planned mini-game on Base, and the ability to purchase a physical Kevin building block set as a part of Coinbase’s “Onchain Summer” initiative.
Pixelmon is an NFT-based game inspired by Nintendo’s popular Pokémon series, but with creatures that users can purchase as Ethereum NFTs.
The creatures sold for 3 ETH apiece during the February 2022 mint—a staggering $8,100 at the time—and ultimately yielded a $70 million haul for the developers. But the creatures that traders purchased sight unseen were widely mocked after the team finally revealed the artwork soon afterwards.
Critics on social media memed the NFTs into oblivion last year, called the project a scam, and widely panned the characters which had been sourced from Unity stock models. Noted pseudonymous on-chain investigator ZachXBT called Pixelmon a rug pull and urged buyers to “stop supporting cash grab NFT projects.”
Pseudonymous Pixelmon founder Syber, who has since deleted his Twitter account, previously called the character reveal “unacceptable” and “a horrible mistake.” But amid the widespread complaints and mocking, a bipedal green voxel creature turned into an unlikely crypto industry icon.
Out of Pixelmon’s many characters, Kevin became something of a viral meme among crypto traders, spawning Twitter accounts and a memecoin dedicated to his legacy. Something about Kevin’s blocky body, golden buck teeth, and lost googly eyes enticed traders into buying Kevin NFTs for prices much higher than any of the other Pixelmon.
Even today, the original Kevin NFTs are still listed for substantially higher sums than the rest of the Pixelmon NFT collection. At time of writing, Pixelmon NFTs start at about 0.3 ETH ($525)—but “OG Kevin” NFTs start at 3 ETH ($5,240) on OpenSea. In April, one Kevin NFT sold for 4.2 ETH, or over $7,200 at the time.
In September 2022, a startup called LiquidX acquired a majority stake in the Pixelmon IP and took over game development. The team has steadily released game design updates since, but it’s unclear when the game will launch to the public.
The new team redesigned most of the characters, but kept Kevin’s original pixelated mass intact—and they’re embracing the past chaos and how it may have kept this NFT game project on people’s minds amid the missteps.
“Kevin became the face of not only the unfortunate art of Pixelmon, but everything perceived to be wrong about the NFT space as a whole,” the Base NFT collectible description reads. “Kevin was memed into the limelight, a perfect punchline to describe when expectations and reality look profoundly different.”