Game publishers have taken a real shine to microtransactions in recent years, so it’s not surprising there’s so much interest in NFTs or “non-fungible tokens” in games. These are essentially blockchain-backed microtransactions on steroids. A survey from the organizers of the Game Developers Conference shows it’s not the actual game developers who are in love with NFTs. According to Kotaku, the overwhelming majority of those surveyed by GDC said they have no interest in NFTs.
The first time you heard about NFTs, it probably had something to do with an expensive JPEG. Most NFTs are just items that are registered on a blockchain, which proves ownership and can be bought and sold like an asset. That’s why there are some pictures of cartoon monkeys that are theoretically worth many thousands of dollars. The ability to just snap your fingers and mint something worth thousands of dollars is understandably appealing to game publishers.
The developers making games don’t seem to share their bosses’ infatuation with NFTs. The GDC survey asked separately about interest in integrating cryptocurrency and NFTs into games. The results were similar, though. For crypto, 72 percent of respondents said they had no interest. For NFTs, the rate was 70 percent not interested. In both cases, only 1 percent said they were already using the technology in games.
The GDC survey also allowed respondents to add comments about the use of NFTs in games, and as expected, most of the opinions are strongly against adding this technology to games. “How this hasn’t been identified as a pyramid scheme is beyond me,” said one dev. Another predicted grave consequences for the industry as publishers begin their inevitable dive into the world of crypto, saying, “They’re going to drive a wedge right in the heart of this industry. It’s going to become really clear what folks’ motivations are, and it’s not going to be pretty.”
Ubisoft was the first to move into NFTs in a big way with Ghost Recon Breakpoint armor and weapons (see top). Players have shown little to no interest in these unique virtual items, but they didn’t have much interest in Ghost Recon Breakpoint before NFTs, either. This was probably a trial run, allowing Ubisoft to gain some insight into how NFTs can work without risking a game that people like to play. No matter how little interest devs have in NFTs, their corporate overlords aren’t going to leave money on the table.