Ubisoft just announced Ubisoft Quartz, an NFT initiative which allows people to buy artificially scarce digital items using cryptocurrency. This announcement represents the AAA-industry’s first real foray into NFTs, which a lot of people absolutely hate because they are a massive scam. Other major publishers like Square Enix and Sega have stated explicit interest in the technology, but Ubisoft is the first to actually release a product, albeit a kind of shitty one.
Ubisoft Quartz allows players to purchase “Digits.” Digits are in-game weapons, vehicles, and cosmetics, which players can acquire in limited drops and sell freely via crypto wallets. The program relies on Tezos, a proof-of-stake currency which claims to be energy efficient. Ubisoft plans to launch Quartz in Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint on December 9, 2021. The first three of these limited-time Digit drops will be free to players who sign up via the company’s app.
The idea is that Ubisoft’s “Digits” will allow players to have “unique” customizations and ownership over their in-game items. How unique these customizations and gear actually are remains to be seen. In its announcement video, the company claims that each Digit will be marked with a readily visible serial number (using the most grimdark mask I’ve ever seen as its prime example). The company’s first three Digits, which release on December 9, 12, and 15, (dis)respectfully, only require one to sign up for the app and connect a supported crypto wallet (Ubisoft shows Kukai and Temple in its example graphics).
The company also states that NFTs will be sold outside of the Ubisoft ecosystem as a way of “grant[ing] players more control than ever.” The ability to trade them elsewhere will be the only noticeable, functional difference for the vast majority of people between Ubisoft’s NFTs and Steam marketplace items like trading cards, CS:GO skins, and Team Fortress 2 hats. Steam Items exist only in Steam and operate within Steam’s ecosystem, while NFTs such as those in Ubisoft’s scheme can be traded on a distributed blockchain away from the “walled garden” of a particular storefront.
Tezos, the proof-of-stake currency which Ubisoft has chosen to partner with, rather effectively explains how NFTs are a total scam on its own website. In a section entitled “How Do NFTs Work,” the company shows its own ass by saying, “Because that ownership is tracked on the blockchain, that piece of art might become valuable to you based entirely on who’s owned it in the past.” All but admitting that NFTs are a silly pyramid scheme without any functional or material value outside of vague promises of a coming metaverse—seemingly defined by false scarcity schemes—and an embarrassing desire for ownership for the sake of ownership.
Ubisoft’s leap into NFTs is already being resoundingly criticized by hundreds of Twitter users, and for good reason. This shit is tremendously dumb and deserves ridicule at every turn.