Internet personality Logan Paul has responded to claims brought against him by fellow YouTuber Steven "Coffeezilla" that his recent CryptoZoo NFT project is a “scam”.
In a three-part series of videos published over the past week, the investigative YouTube journalist accused Paul of engaging in fraudulent activities with his NFT game "Crypto Zoo."
As the world of NFTs and cryptocurrencies continues to throw up intriguing stories that combine tech and celebrity with a healthy dashing of alleged fraud, this seems to be just the latest from the emerging field.
Here is everything you need to know about it.
What is CryptoZoo?
In essence, CryptoZoo is an NFT game where players spend zoo coins (CryptoZoo’s in-game currency) to buy egg NFTs that hatch into animals. When those animals are hatched, players can breed them to create hybrids; the more rare the hybrid, the larger the daily output of zoo coins.
The game is set up to function as passive income, and players can cash out their zoo coins for real world money, essentially turning a profit for playing a fairly undemanding video game.
According to the game’s official website, CryptoZoo is an “autonomous ecosystem that allows ZooKeepers to buy, sell, and trade exotic animals and hybrids,” and Paul himself has previously described the project simply as a “really fun game that earns you money.”
Of course, anybody with an ounce of cynicism knows that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. That’s never truer than in the world of money and finance, and nothing in life is free.
The “play-to-earn” game, despite Logan Paul fans investing thousands of dollars into it, has never been fully playable. Since the game’s September 2021 ‘launch’, Paul’s supporters have been able to spend $2.5 million (£2 million) on eggs alone, rocketing the cryptocoin’s real-life value to to $2 billion (£1.6 billion) at one time, but have never yet been able to breed their hatches creatures on cash-out on their real-world returns.
One player who spoke to Coffeezilla claimed that CryptoZoo’s “passive income” mechanic - the selling point of the entire game “never did [work] from the beginning,” and “there was no way to claim your yield [and] there never was.”
Other CryptoZoo investors said they were unable to even hatch the eggs they had purchased, describing them as “just a picture” on a screen that is “basically worth nothing whatsoever.”
What did Coffeezilla say?
CryptoZoo’s website says the game is currently “undergoing upgrades to the core infrastructure of the ecosystem,” and in one of Coffeezilla’s videos, we see Paul claiming that the game has been broken because a "developer fled to Switzerland" with the source code and held it hostage for $1 million (£830,000).
The developer in question, who Coffeezilla spoke to throughout his inquiries, claimed that he wasn’t paid at all for his work on CryptoZoo, despite hiring a team of 30 programmers and spending $50,000 (£41,521) a week to build the NFT project. A second CryptoZoo developer that Coffeezilla spoke to said that he too had not received any payment.
According to the investigative journalist, Paul’s team also did not invest $1 million in creating the game as they had originally claimed, but instead simply stole existing programming code and passed it off as their own.
How has Paul responded?
Paul has finally responded to Coffeezilla’s allegations in full with a seven-minute YouTube video he posted on Tuesday (3 January). The founder of CryptoZoo has threatened legal action against the investigative YouTuber for allegedly spreading false information as well as for making an "illegal recording" of his manager, Jeff Levin.
“You have used my name for views and money,” Paul said. “Your addiction to clicks has clouded your judgement and you’ve made very real errors with very real repercussions. [Coffeezilla has continued] to morph from an investigator to a gossip channel. He is a lopsided journalist with an agenda.”
Paul refuted every accusation, claiming that CryptoZoo was created by criminals that he "unknowingly" employed, including ‘Z’, one of the developers that Coffeezilla interviewed as part of his investigations.
He revealed that ‘Z’ is actually Zack Kelling, who was previously arrested for engaging in fraudulent behaviour, and that, contrary to Z’s assertions in the Coffeezilla video, the CryptoZoo team only comprised three engineers. Paul claimed that Coffeezilla did not fact-check the developer on purpose.
In response to claims that the passive income aspect of the game had never worked, Paul said “one second of research would prove that to be false,” adding, “you can definitely hatch eggs and even breed your animals.” To back-up his claims, Paul shared footage from the project itself and from players livestreaming their responses to different egg openings.
In response to what Paul claimed to be Coffeezilla’s false information, he then threatened legal action against the YouTuber, with one particular issue Paul’s team had with the three-part YouTube series being an “illegal recording” of Paul’s manager, Jeff Levin.
A significant portion of a purportedly private phone call between Coffeezilla and Levin was made public during the videos, and Paul has said he is prepared to bring legal action against the YouTuber. “I suggest you use the money from your Patreon to hire a good lawyer, you’re gonna need it,” Paul said. “See you in court.”
It seems the intriguing sagA may be far from over thought, with Coffeezilla returning to Twitter shortly after Paul’s video response went live to say he will provide a more complete response of his own in due course.