Get cash or innovate? Video game world divided by NFT

A gamer uses a PS4 controller while playing Ubisoft’s new Watch Dogs Legion video game on October 28, 2020.

Kenzo Tribouillard | AFP via Getty Images

Gamers are a notoriously skeptical crowd.

For example, in 2018, Electronic art face to face backlash decided to allow players to pay to unlock certain characters in the game “Star Wars Battlefront II”. Traditionally, players are required to wade through several hours to access such content.

The backlash is so fierce that the last EA back to its plan, which critics describe as a “pay-to-win” model.

So when Ubisoft, a French video game publisher, skip a video This month represents its foray into token is not replaceable, to be fair the reaction is a bit predictable.

The company has launched a platform called Quartz that allows players to own in-game items like helmets in the form of NFTs, digital assets designed to track ownership of unique items. on blockchain. This feature was added to Ubisoft’s “Ghost Recon Breakpoint” game.

The move was met with widespread fury from gamers, who have seen Quartz as money. Some commenters also raised concerns with environmental impact electronic money.

OperatorDrewski, a YouTube channel with over 1 million subscribers, commented: “To me, this is a clear signal that you’re literally squeezing out the Ghost Recon brand while putting minimal effort into the game itself. realistic play.”

While YouTube recently hid the dislikes on its videos, users who downloaded the software to learn about the change were able to find Ubisoft’s trailer for Quartz that has been released. totally don’t like it, with just 1,600 likes and over 40,000 dislikes.

A Ubisoft spokesperson told CNBC that the NFTs available on Quartz are currently free and that the company will not take a cut of any secondary sales.

“Ubisoft Quartz is an experiment,” the spokesperson said.

“Digits,” Ubisoft’s NFT, are “beautiful, playable in-game items that don’t affect gameplay,” the spokesperson added. “In that sense, they are completely optional.”

Addressing environmental concerns, Ubisoft says it is relying on a less energy-intensive cryptocurrency network called Tezos.

Ubisoft isn’t the only game company jumping into the NFT wars.

EA CEO Andrew Wilson speak The phenomenon is “an important part of the future of our industry.” Ukrainian developer GSC Game World wanted to integrate NFT into the upcoming title “STALKER 2”, but has now get rid of the plans Following feedback from fans.

The industry is divided

Ubisoft’s demise highlights a divide in the gaming world over non-fungible tokens. Last month, for example, Microsoft Xbox director Phil Spencer has warned of several attempts to bring NFT into video games.”discover. “

“There are definitely some aspects of [NFTs] feeling a little bit of discovery right now with some of these games,” Geoff Keighley, host of The Game Awards, told CNBC on a call ahead of the video game industry. annual awards ceremony, which recently took place.

While Keighley says he likes the idea of ​​game creators generating revenue through royalties from selling NFTs, “what I hope won’t happen is the game becomes a platform that’s just for fun.” for commerce.”

“For me, what I love about games is the world, the story, and the experience within them,” he added. “What I don’t want is for everything to have a transactional feel. It’s like a bit microtransactions, when it was a big TV series for gamers. “

Several crypto startups are betting NFT will play some role in the world of video games. For example, Axie Infinity is a blockchain-based game that allows users to collect and breed creatures known as “Axies” – like “Pokémon” but with NFTs.

Why use blockchain?

Robby Yung, CEO of Animoca Brands, an investor in Sky Mavis, creator of Axie Infinity, said the business model in the gaming sector has changed over the years.

“Historically, games were more premium, meaning you bought cartridges or DVDs or later downloadable files. You paid the price for the game upfront,” he said.

“That has largely shifted to the economic model around the free game. The idea is that it’s free upfront but you have virtual assets inside the game that you get to enhance and improve the gameplay of the game. me.”

Yung said the NFT approach is innovative because it means gamers can now take ownership of the digital assets they purchase in a game. Players can then take those assets outside of the game and redeem it elsewhere. He said the phenomenon reminded him of his childhood.

“If you buy cartridges for your game console and you want a new one but can’t afford it, you’ll sell some of your old games at a thrift store,” Yung said.

“With digital content today, we don’t have that second-hand market. And so now blockchain is allowing that to happen again, where you can get rid of content that you no longer have. care or don’t play anymore.”

However, despite the excitement from some NFTs and the possibility of using them in the game, it is clear that not everyone is on board.

According to George Jijiashvili, principal analyst at Omdia, although NFTs may one day have a place in video games, they are currently still in their “infancy”.

“The rush to provide NFT without a full assessment of it can lead to serious reputational damage,” said Jijiashvili. Get cash or innovate? Video game world divided by NFT

Sarah Ridley

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