A hot potato: The majority of people's response to gaming companies trying to shoehorn non-fungible tokens (NFTs) into the games has been negative, to say the least. But Ubisoft isn't put off by what many see as another shameless cash-grab, and it fully intends to push ahead with its plans while staying true to its "principles."
Ubisoft has been investigating blockchain titles through its Strategic Innovation Lab since at least 2018, and CEO Yves Guillemot is a founding member of the Blockchain Gaming Alliance. This month, the studio said that it would be adding NFT-based cosmetic items to Ghost Recon Breakpoint.
Ubisoft's Quartz platform announcement video saw a deluge of dislikes, and it appears that nobody is buying the Ghost Recon NFTs. A report earlier this week showed that just eight items had been sold, the most expensive going for 40 XTZ (about $166 based on the value of Tezos) and the cheapest costing a single XTZ, or about $4.17.
Given all the negative PR, one might imagine that Ubisoft would follow GSC Game World, which abandoned plans to include NFTs in Stalker 2 following a massive backlash from fans. But Ubisoft didn't become the most hated gaming company in the world by listening to public opinion.
In an interview with Decrypt, which is owned by a crypto company, Ubisoft blockchain technical director Didier Genevois said the firm isn't dropping its NFT plans and will "stay true" to its principles.
"We have received a lot of feedback since the announcement, and we hear both the encouragement and the concerns," he said. "We understand where the sentiment towards the technology comes from, and we need to keep taking it into consideration every step of the way."
"This experiment is meant to understand how the value proposition of decentralization can be received and embraced by our players. We know it is a major change that will take time, but we will stay true to our three principles."
Those principles that Genevois references are to "use the tech responsibly" and "build a safe environment" for players to explore how NFTs work, "only leverage energy-efficient proof-of-stake blockchains," and "focus on meaningful value propositions for players that benefit their gaming experience."
None of that explains why people should care about NFTs or how they improve a gaming experience, of course, but that's not stopped Ubisoft from doubling down. Guillemot has reportedly told workers that gamers will eventually accept them in the same way as they did with DLC, cosmetic items, season passes, etc., areas that Ubisoft knows all too well.
A French videogame workers union representing Ubisoft employees issued a statement recently calling blockchain and NFT technology "useless, costly, and ecologically mortifying," reports PCGamesN.
Ubisoft is facing more than just criticism from gamers. A recent report claimed it is losing workers rapidly in what is being called a "great exodus" and "the cut artery."