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GameStop Shares Surge as Much as 20% After News It Plans to Launch an NFT Marketplace

Bing Guan | Bloomberg | Getty Images

GameStop shares jumped on Friday after news that the video game retailer is planning to create a marketplace for nonfungible tokens, or NFTs.

The speculative stock ended the day 7.3% higher after surging more than 20% earlier in the day. Its shares are still off more than 70% from their 52-week high.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday after the bell GameStop's potential move into the NFT space. One source close to the situation confirmed the plans to CNBC, saying it has been in the works for months.

GameStop also plans to establish cryptocurrency partnerships to create games and items for the marketplace, the source said.

"GameStop is in a very unique position, because a lot of these NFT projects are starting to add gaming utility behind the NFTs themselves," said Adam Hollander, an NFT investor and creator of the "Hungry Wolves" NFT collection. "GameStop is well positioned, in my opinion, to be able to capitalize on that they have hundreds of millions of people that play video games that least recognize GameStop as a credible brand."

The company has been quietly hiring talent in blockchain and crypto with more than two dozen members on the team now, the source said.

NFTs use a technology that allows proof of ownership of digital goods to be stored on a blockchain, often ethereum. It has been one of the most-hyped sectors in technology. OpenSea, the best-known NFT marketplace, was recently valued at $13.3 billion by investors.

GameStop's marketplace will focus on virtual video game goods such as character outfits and weapons, according to the Journal report.

In January 2021, retail traders collaborated on Reddit's WallStreetBets' forum, aiming to bid up GameStop's shares, which were heavily shorted by hedge funds. The retail buying triggered massive short covering among hedge funds that fueled the rally even further.

The stock ended 2021 up 687% after a year of wild trading. Some investors were disappointed by the lack of concrete turnaround plans for its e-commerce transition, which is led by activist investor and Chewy co-founder Ryan Cohen.

— CNBC's Frank Holland contributed reporting.

Correction: Ethereum is a blockchain. An earlier version misspelled its name.

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