The world of video games does not know what to think of NFTs. These unique digital objects supported by technology blockchain (the one that establishes the entire network of cryptocurrencies) is an incipient channel of financing in the cinematographic field, it takes its first steps to empower artistic creators and promises to disrupt the financial world. However, within the world of video games he does not find accommodation. Speaking in silver, right now the rejection is widespread.
Until recently there were games whose main dynamics included NFT and cryptocurrencies, but it would be unfair not to point out that they were more simple applications than large elaborate games. That changed last December, with a powerful developer’s first major foray into the world of NFTs. We talked about Ubisoft with its Quartz platform, which intended to use NFT in some of its games. Two weeks after launching Quartz, transactions did not reach two tens. About $ 2,000 for a project the company had been working on for several years. Users (and employees themselves) have complained bitterly over the past month. Anyway, it’s too early to draw conclusions: the game Ubisoft introduced NFTs into was not a success, and everything they’ve done seems more like a trial and error than an outright gamble. In any case, if the Ubisoft movement has shown us something, it is the almost unanimous hostility of the gaming community to these practices.
It is not the first time that something similar has happened. A few years ago the community gamer was stirred in the same way with the so-called Loot Boxes. It was a practice consisting of the player buying a mystery box (loot box literally means “loot box”) that I did not know what was inside: the prize could range from something very common to something exceptional and very valuable. The most lenient compared it to card packs, the most belligerent – to slot machines; but what was undeniable is that paying for one loot box It was more akin to gambling at a gambling house than, heck, playing a game at Fifa with a friend. Many tore their clothes because they felt that the playful essence of video games was threatened but, purism aside, several European countries joined to regulate them under the premise that they were “undercover gambling”.
Times on the internet are exponential: in a single day the world can turn upside down a couple of times. Since last March the auction house Christie’s sold an NFT for 57 million euros, the acronym has not stopped grabbing headlines: it is a fire that has spread throughout the digital universe. A market with few regulations that has settled better in other areas than in the one that, in principle, seemed more conducive: that of video games.
Community gamer he pulls his nails out every time he senses a corporate outrage. And its echo is not only heard in the world of video games but in the digital world in general: youtubers, twitchers Y streamers who have joined the NFT craze have received severe criticism from most of their audience. Let us agree, then, that it is a very divisive practice, which arouses as many passions as hatred. Ubisoft’s position has replicas, of course, such as that of the powerful Valve, owner of the gigantic digital video game platform Steam (and developer of jewelry such as Half-Life), which announced in November that it will not allow the use of cryptocurrencies or NFT on Steam.
An intermediate position is that of the Japanese Square Enix. In a letter dated January 1, the president of the company, Yosuke Matsuda, made clear the interest that the company (creator of the famous saga Final Fantasy) has to claim its share of the pie in this promised new (digital) land. Matsuda’s interest is not anecdotal, because let us remember that his company manages the most successful massive online role-playing game of the moment (and everything seems to indicate that for a long time), the Final Fantasy XIV, whose own commercial framework (there is even real estate speculation in the game) fits perfectly with something like NFTs. It is just a matter of exchanging the fake money that players trade in the game for, for example, bitcoins, to create a market real.
The implementation (or not) of the technology blockchain and NFTs in the gaming ecosystem will be one of the hot topics of this 2022 that we just stripped the wrapping paper from. We will see if Square and other developers are able to resist the temptation, but what should be done is not to lose sight of the playful aspect that surrounds the entire medium. Playful, which by the way comes from Latin, games, which means games. Because at the end of the day this is what we call all this business: videogames.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.