With NFT technology exploding in popularity over the last two years, several companies have expressed interest in including them in their products. Gaming companies are no exception, with multiple publishers slowly pushing for NFT inclusion in their video games, much to public uproar. With several game studios announcing plans to incorporate NFTs in their upcoming titles before promptly cancelling them, gamers ponder the relevance of the technology to video games.
Ubisoft’s NFT plans
Ubisoft has built a long-lasting legacy with its gaming franchises and found itself the first company to include NFTs in its video games. Known for creating celebrated gaming franchises; Far Cry, Assassin’s Creed, Prince Of Persia, Ubisoft has recently caught a lot of heat for investing in NFTs despite gamers reacting strongly against it.
Ubisoft’s Ghost Recon: Breakpoint launched the company’s first NFTs, requiring players to play a staggering 600 hours or more of the game to unlock in-game NFT rewards. Ubisoft continued to update the game by adding more NFTs, before stopping abruptly only four months later when the company put out an announcement regarding the game’s final update. Although the company promised to keep its online servers active, people are speculating about their inevitable end. It wouldn’t even be the first Ubisoft game to shut down servers this year since the company announced it was shutting down Hyper Scape servers later this month.
It seems that none of the backlash has phased Ubisoft, as they are continuing to invest in NFTs with the introduction of Ubisoft Quartz, which is described as playable NFTs. The Youtube reveal was met with massive dislikes back when dislikes were a thing. Ubisoft’s response to the backlash was met with poor reception. Nicolas Pouard, vice president at Ubisoft’s Strategic Innovations Lab said this reaction was expected as it’s not an easy concept to grasp.
Other companies’ stance on NFTs
Although Ubisoft is the only gaming company to include NFTs in its games, several other companies have continued to express curiosity or even disdain for it. Famous for the Final Fantasy titles, Square Enix has also revealed their intention to include blockchain technology and NFT technology in its games. As of now, Square Enix has only dabbled in NFTs by selling stickers of Million Arthur, a card battle mobile RPG series by Square Enix that ended in September 2020. EA and Konami, which have housed some of the most popular gaming franchises, have also expressed interest in NFTs.
Additionally, there has been some pushback from other video game developers regarding NFTs. Team17, widely known for developing the Worms franchise and publishing Overcooked, said on January 31 that it would collaborate with Reality Gaming Group on MetaWorms, described to be a generative art NFT project. The announcement was met with a negative response by Aggro Crab, a game studio that worked with Team17 in the past. Several other game studios that have published games with Team17 have also voiced their lack of interest to include NFTs on their platforms.
Reactions from consumers
With the bloom of the NFT industry grabbing the attention of prominent gaming companies, many of their loyal consumers seem to have been left neglected. This raises the question of who exactly the target audience is concerning the inclusion of NFTs in video games. Skill Up, a popular gaming Youtube channel, reacted negatively to Ubisoft Quartz. He condemned the decision to include NFTs as they were turning games “into proxy financial instruments”.
GSC Game World, the developer and publisher of Stalker 2: Heart of Chernobyl, confirmed that the game would include NFTs by way of selling rights to players to become an in-game, “metahuman.” Users would enter the offices of GSC Game World for a scanning procedure capturing the likeness of the owner and creating in-game NPCs based on them. They soon took to Twitter to announce that they’ve decided to cancel anything related to NFTs in their upcoming game, Stalker 2. That particular tweet was met with a positive reaction.
With such a wide gap between video game companies and its consumers regarding NFTs, one might begin to wonder about the relevance of blockchain technology in the video game world. The opinion of gamers matters to certain studios, who even go so far as to remove NFTs from their games entirely. However, some companies choose to pursue the NFT market, leaving the future of such technology unclear in the gaming world.