EA CEO Andrew Wilson once said NFT games, or “earn to play,” were the gaming industry’s future. He never gave any details on what this future looks like. However, he is speaking a different tone to investors. In EA‘s Q4 2021 earnings report, Andrew Wilson noted that NFTs are “not something that we’re driving hard on.”
However, he does note the uniqueness of blockchain-based games and EA‘s positioning to take them on potentially. NFTs can grant collectibility and intrinsic value to digital goods; however, it is noted that NFT gaming is still in its very early stages.
Whether that’s part of the NFT and the blockchain? Well, that remains to be seen. And I think the way we think about it, is we want to deliver the best possible player experience we can. And so we’re going to – we will evaluate that over time. But right now, it’s not something that we’re driving hard on.”
EA is also in a currently tricky position. The launch of Battlefield 2042 was considered a failure, something admitted to in the earnings report. They did not sell as many copies as anticipated, and the earnings report did not include sales figures for the blockbuster game.
If EA wants to deliver the best possible player experience, it must first start listening to the player. Gamers generally are opposed to NFT projects, and this is where they may be listening.
EA is not the only developer to scale back its NFT plans.
Back in December, GSC Gameworld canceled its NFT “metahuman” project. The company received scrutiny and backlash over including NFTs in their games.
— S.T.A.L.K.E.R. OFFICIAL (@stalker_thegame) December 16, 2021
Developer Team 17 also canceled its NFT project after backlash.
Team17 is today announcing an end to the MetaWorms NFT project.
We have listened to our Teamsters, development partners, and our games’ communities, and the concerns they’ve expressed, and have therefore taken the decision to step back from the NFT space.
— Team17 (@Team17) February 1, 2022
The Last Of Us voice actor Troy Baker canceled a partnership with an NFT company over fan backlash.
Thank you all for your feedback and patience. After careful consideration, I’ve decided to not continue the partnership with VoiceVerseNFT. Intentions aside, I’ve heard you and apologize for accusing anyone of “hating” just by simply disagreeing with me.
— Troy Baker (@TroyBakerVA) January 31, 2022
Gamers have responded to NFT implantation into games very harshly. The idea of turning gaming for entertainment and fun into a job to earn crypto and NFTs has not resonated well with many. In November, Microsoft Gaming CEO and Xbox chief Phil Spencer called NFT gaming “exploitative.”
Valve banned all blockchain games from Steam, the largest PC gaming distributor, in October. However, not all developers are scaling back plans.
Ubisoft is one of the biggest proponents of play-to-earn gaming. Despite consumer opposition, it is doubling down on its NFT plans. Ubisoft offers a service called Ubisoft Quartz, where players can earn an NFT cosmetic for playing 600 hours of Ghost Recon. One cosmetic is a helmet, of which only 250 exist.
Gamers were outraged at the announcement of Quartz, and the video was deleted from youtube after gaining 95% dislikes. However, Ubisoft has ignored all complaints. In a display of arrogance, Ubisoft VP Nicolas Pouard said that gamers simply “don’t get it.”
After Valve banned NFTs and Crypto from Steam, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney stated that NFT games were welcome on the Epic Games Store.
Epic Games Store will welcome games that make use of blockchain tech provided they follow the relevant laws, disclose their terms, and are age-rated by an appropriate group. Though Epic's not using crypto in our games, we welcome innovation in the areas of technology and finance. https://t.co/6W7hb8zJBw
— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) October 15, 2021
NFTs have entered the mainstream as big tech companies such as Twitter, YouTube, and Meta have begun to test NFTs in their products. “NFTs,” “Web 3.0,” and “metaverse” have become buzzwords for investors to speculate over. So far, no legitimate, working decentralized gaming ecosystem has been developed. Dozens will try, and dozens will fail.
Time will tell if the gaming industry will hold out.
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