What’s better than buying a helmet via micro-transactions in a video game? Obviously, buying a unique video game helmet NFT, its rareness dictated by the tiny little number on the helmet itself.
Everybody’s favourite, unproblematic video game publisher Ubisoft have announced the Ubisoft Quartz Beta, an initiative described by the company as “playable and energy-efficient Ubisoft NFTs”. According to an announcement trailer from Ubisoft, the NFTs exist as “Digits” and are playable in-game, unique, and “will allow you to complete your missions in style!”. The beta will begin in Ubisoft‘s 2019 release Ghost Recon: Breakpoint, and will allow for the buying and selling of cosmetic NFTs that “remember their owner’s names” and “have a serial number on them”.
The attitude towards micro-transactions in video games has historically been mixed, with games involving gratuitous micro-transactions being scorned by the gaming community yet said games making a lot of their profits from said micro-transactions. They usually exist in the form of loot boxes, which is essentially gamer gambling (in my opinion) that sees some players pouring eye-watering amounts into the possibility of a “good item”.
Micro-transactions are a lot more common now, and one could say that people looked at them with the same eye of disgust that they look at NFTs with. One could say that many still look at them this way, because they are both scummy stains on the video game world. One could say this. With NFTs in video games, the value comes from the uniqueness of the product. The owners of the in-game NFTs can resell them for a value of their choice, potentially making a profit which is really what video games are all about.
Ubisoft made its interest in the blockchain and NFTs clear months ago. Now we see that interest beginning to manifest itself.
In a recent piece for Bloomberg, Jason Schreier makes multiple great points when it comes to the blockchain in gaming, saying,
“In gaming right now, blockchain is confusing and short-sighted. And that’s even before you consider the potentially devastating environmental impact or the costs of each transaction. Perhaps gaming executives are just telling investors what they want to hear. But unlike most of the other gaming fads we’ve seen come and go, this one could really hurt people.”
Notable members of the gaming community also had strong thoughts surrounding the announcement.
None of this stuff makes videogames any better. It doesn’t make them more fun or interesting. It just turn them into proxy financial instruments, corrupting their core design and exposing them to market forces that will enrich some, but exclude and disappoint most. This sucks. https://t.co/M6x1Gy5vSS
— Skill Up (@SkillUpYT) December 7, 2021
They jumped on this trend quicker than it took for them to make their workers feel safe from sexual abusers.
(Their workers still report feeling unsafe from sexual abusers) https://t.co/i0WKFoNANv
— Commander Stephanie Sterling (@JimSterling) December 7, 2021
To those asking, no, Ubisoft Quartz will not be appearing at #TheGameAwards
— Geoff Keighley (@geoffkeighley) December 7, 2021
From my view, what does the addition of NFTs do to gaming other than turn video games into a financial endeavour for the player rather than an entertaining gaming experience? Does everything have to be a monetary investment? I do believe that as long as there’s a way for the blockchain and NFTs to function without having a vastly negative effect on the planet, there’s no issue and it’s actually quite revolutionary. This all depends on whether this is a system being used by adults who understand what they’re getting into and, well, it all feels a bit… murky at the moment.