Ubisoft’s official foray into the world of Non-Fungible Tokens has not had the best start; the announcement was trashed by fans, and the company’s “garbage” NFTs were largely ignored upon release. In a new interview with Australian site Finder, though, Ubisoft say the blame for this lies with us, not them.
It’s an extraordinary interview to behold, from top to bottom. It begins, for example, with:
On 7 December 2021, Ubisoft become the first big name game developer to publicly enter the NFT space. The launch of the Ubisoft Digits, an NFT, and the Quartz platform did not go down well. Gamer feedback was negative to the point of being aggressive. As gamers are want to do. The big names in game press were also tepid in their analysis. One way or the other, this was a landmark moment in gaming, but the media clearly didn’t want to gain the ire of their readers.
OK. And by the time we’re onto “In fact, I was excited by the launch of Quartz and Digits” you can probably see where this is going. The whole thing is a softball chance for Nicolas Pouard, VP at Ubisoft’s Strategic Innovations Lab and Didier Genevois, Ubisoft’s Blockchain Technical Director to clear the air and make a sales pitch for the much-derided Quartz campaign.
Instead of appealing to users, though, Pouard decides to tell us we’re all wrong, and that actually, this stuff is great:
I think gamers don’t get what a digital secondary market can bring to them. For now, because of the current situation and context of NFTs, gamers really believe it’s first destroying the planet, and second just a tool for speculation. But what we [at Ubisoft] are seeing first is the end game. The end game is about giving players the opportunity to resell their items once they’re finished with them or they’re finished playing the game itself.
So, it’s really, for them. It’s really beneficial. But they don’t get it for now.
Also, this is part of a paradigm shift in gaming. Moving from one economic system to another is not easy to handle. There is a lot of habits you need to go against and a lot of your ingrained mindset you have to shift. It takes time. We know that.
We absolutely get it, Nicolas, and we want nothing to do with it. It’s telling that this is a sales pitch coming from someone in the crypto space, since it has the same dangerous and soulless hallmarks, of condescending hucksters who want to turn everything into a market, to transform even your leisure time into something that can and by divine right should be commoditised.
Of course he wants Ubisoft to push ahead with this, and “giving players the opportunity to resell their items” is the key sentence here. A big driver of money for them in this space won’t just be sales of NFT items, but the cut they get every time an item is sold and resold again. Endless money for doing literally nothing. Living the dream.
A lot of companies, big video game publishers included, have been dipping their toes into this market over the last 12 months for just this reason. As stupid as it is, it’s also usually explained away by it being a fad that involves making a quick buck out of suckers, and really, what public company wouldn’t want in on that action.
Ubisoft’s efforts are on a whole other level, though. There’s a degree of deluded commitment to the cause we simply haven’t seen from other publishers, and whenever I hear about developers predicting NFTs will drive “a wedge right in the heart of this industry”, it’s places like Ubisoft, where management and workers are so far apart on the issue, I think of first.