Web3 is a buzzword that has been dominating the cryptocurrency and NFT space for the past year or so, presenting the idea of a decentralized internet. It is important to note that Web3 is not the same as "Web 3.0" or the "Semantic Web" envisioned by Tim Berners-Lee. Now, it seems that a new firm looking to cash in on the hype of Web3 is building a console specific to the gaming needs of that sector.
Polium One is an upcoming console being developed by Polium and is being marketed as the world's first "multi-chain console for Web 3 gaming". Apparently, gamers will be able to play titles across ImmutableX, Solana, Ethereum, Polygon, BNB, EOS, Wax, and Harmony. Here is how Polium has pitched it in a Medium article:
The console will be powerful enough to run high-performance games and will be easy to use for a traditional gamer who doesn't understand Web 3. Not only will this solve a problem but it will also bring mass adoption into the Web 3 space.
[...] We want to build a console where winning and losing count so we came up with the idea to combine all compatible games into 1 leaderboard. Players will move up the leaderboard by winning, earning trophies, and voting on proposals. The more you win the more you earn. Not only will this make gaming more competitive and fun, but it will also keep users engaged with the console.
[...] The Web 3 Gaming market size will continue to increase. We are building for the future, not for tomorrow. Polium wants to bridge the gap between Web 3 and traditional gaming. Building an affordable and easy-to-use console for Web 3 gaming is the first major step toward mainstream adoption.
There are a few issues, though. As Kotaku details in a very blunt article, the Polium One does not have a prototype right now and has no games scheduled for release. The company says that it is in conversations with developers but it has nothing to share at this time.
More interestingly, the specs for the Polium One were described as follows on its website: 4K Ultra HD, TouchID, 8K HDR, Ray Tracing, up to 120 frames per second. Yes, it had both 4K and 8K gaming as separate specs. It even claimed to integrate Apple's proprietary TouchID technology for secure crypto transactions, which is obviously not possible. That said, the website has now been updated to remove references to 8K gaming and TouchID, and now only talks about 4K UHD and a "Scanner".
That's not all, though. Polium's own logo (you can see it on the controller and the box itself) is clearly inspired by Nintendo's GameCube logo. After immediate criticism on the subject, the company has announced that it is working on a new graphic. Meanwhile, the controller itself promises a "Wallet" button, haptic feedback, a touchpad, a fingerprint scanner, and a headphone jack.
Coming over to the final piece of the puzzle, the development roadmap, this is the place where things get even more shady. The functional prototype for the console doesn't exist yet but will be ready in the next "few months". Those interested can provide feedback on development after they pre-order the console by minting or purchasing a "Polium Pass" through "Play" tokens. Those who do so will also be provided a
useless JPEG NFT for their contribution and will be among the first batch of 10,000 people to get the console in Q3 2024. Meanwhile, one million units will be available for the public by Q3 2025.
Needless to say, the idea has received a lot of backlash on the company's Twitter account with the general consensus being that this is an elaborate rug pull. There have also been doubts cast upon the development of an "affordable" console that offers top-of-the-line specs for some pretty basic Web3 games. Coupled with the amateur mistakes (TouchID, 8K) made in explaining the product as well as the fact that the Polium One is nothing more than a render right now but you are still being asked to pay for it, it does seem that this is a rug pull exercise. We'll likely find out within the next couple of years.