A week ago Ubisoft announced its plans for an NFT collectible system in its games named Quartz. The announcement video for Ubisoft Quartz created a major controversy and was delisted within 24 hours, as players decried the environmental cost of blockchain technology and the manipulative nature of in-game items tied to fluctuating real-money value. It seems that fans of Ubisoft’s games weren’t the only ones confused and frustrated, however. A report shows that Ubisoft’s own developers were unhappy with the announcement.
Kotaku reports that Ubisoft’s intra-company social media boards MANA were hit with a wave of questions following the reveal of Quartz last week. In questions posed to Ubisoft, developers admitted that they were “confused” and “upset” over the company’s decision to explore implementing NFTs in their games. Others referenced the environmental impact of Ubisoft’s decision, while many more simply referred to how the announcement was already shedding a negative light on Ubisoft and all of its upcoming projects.
Framing their question in a very game development-focused way, one Ubisoft developer stated that they, “don’t really understand the ‘problem’ being solved here.” In other words, they don’t see how Quartz would either improve Ubisoft’s games or the development of those games. Confusion was paired with frustration, however, as another Ubisoft developer stated outright that while they “try to stay positive,” “this one is upsetting.”
One Ubisoft developer cut to the heart of the problem that developers have with the implementation of NFTs in their games. “How can you look at private property, speculation, artificial scarcity, and egoism, then say ‘yes this is good, I want that, let’s put it in art?'” Basically, the gameplay implementation demanded by NFTs is not in line with what game developers want their games to be, what makes for good games, or the entire concept of creating art, in general. Again, it’s the question of “What problem does this solve?”
While Quartz is not officially supported in any Ubisoft games as of yet, Ubisoft has already begun testing the waters with NFTs. Ghost Recon Breakpoint offered NFTs, which have a real-money value, as a reward to players with over 600 hours spent playing the game. This includes the game’s most dedicated audience, but has also been accused of rewarding content creators focused on the game with real-money gifts.
Needless to say, implementing NFTs, cryptocurrencies, or other blockchain technology into video games is only going to become more and more controversial. Game publishers risk upsetting not only their fanbases, which it may be willing to do simply because the profit margins are so significant, but also their own developers, which publishers may take much more seriously. At the very least, it’s unclear if Ubisoft still plans on rolling out Quartz or if it’s simply being repackaged in a more attractive manner.