For our discussion today, we’re going to look at two fandoms that have very different reactions to blockchain-based products, and see if that tells us anything about what the average person might want from cryptocurrency.
Gaming and music are the two main fandoms. While drawing conclusions about such large and diverse groups is always risky, I can’t help but notice a trend in the way they’ve responded to industry’s efforts to sell them various blockchain-related products and services.
Gamers Hate Crypto
Let’s start with the gamers. Beyond those working on games like Axie Infinity, the gaming community is generally hostile to crypto. Recently, one of the most popular recurring stories has been about a video game developer who announced some sort of NFT integration in a forthcoming game, only to later disavow and apologise for the project.
It was Electronic Arts’ turn this week to turn around. “The future of our industry” was CEO Andrew Wilson’s statement three months ago about NFTs and blockchain gaming. It was revealed in an earnings call Tuesday that the company hasn’t been “driving hard” in the crypto space yet. At Protocol, we have Nick Statt, who can be found here.
For as long as our industry and the games and experiences we provide our players are concerned, I believe collecting will be an important part of the gaming experience.” In terms of the NFT blockchain, we’ll have to wait and see what happens. We want to provide the best possible player experience, and that’s what we’re aiming for. This is something we’ll look into in the future. But right now we don’t have any plans to invest in NFTs or blockchain gaming,” Wilson said when asked about any potential investments in these technologies.
Just days earlier, Team17, creators of popular Worms franchise, had scrapped plans for an NFT “MetaWorms” game. It seemed as if there was nothing else to do. According to the company, it has decided to withdraw from the NFT market because it has listened to its employees, partners in development, and the communities of its games.
It’s impossible to overstate how frequently something like this occurs. Polygon’s Cass Marshall uttered these two memorable lines:
Competitive shooter Valorant features a cast of near-future heroes and mercenaries each with their own special abilities and personalities. After accidentally promoting an NFT artist on social media, one of these characters, Killjoy, found himself in hot water.
There was a commotion. Valorant tweeted a picture of Killjoy looking at a real piece of art, and it turned out that the artist behind the image sells his works as NFTs. The Valorant team’s response was to tweet as if it were pleading for its own death. The Valorant account stated, “We were not aware the selected work was an NFT.” Killjoy’s work and hobbies were never intended to include NFTs. There were 3,500 likes on the tweet, and Valorant was saved from further harm.
One of gaming’s most recognisable voices, Troy Baker, couldn’t escape an NFT project. His “voice NFTs” would each include “a unique AI-generated voice map,” as a result of a partnership with VoiceVerse. Baker went on to say, perhaps anticipating backlash, “You can hate. Then there’s the option of putting your own spin on things. “So, what’s it going to be?” Baker resigned from the project on Monday after receiving 13,000 angry quote tweets from his fans.
Where does the opposition come from for these initiatives?
There are a few common threads that emerge in the angry social media posts. When it comes to monetization, gamers and developers are constantly at odds. Exotic new financing schemes are constantly being tested by game developers in an effort to increase their profits. Premium downloadable content, subscriptions, micro-transactions, and randomised loot boxes have all been met with scepticism by gamers, and each has been worse than the last.
These all have one thing in common: they don’t make games more enjoyable to play, but they do raise their price. So when Ubisoft says it will incorporate NFTs into its Ghost Recon Breakpoint shooter franchise, and its players protest, this is why. For the time being, it appears that the NFTs in the game will be nothing more than digital hats and jackets that players can collect. Ubisoft, on the other hand, can easily imagine restricting players’ access to certain parts of the game based on the number of NFTs they own, making the whole thing just another micro-payment.