A week after Twitter added support for NFT avatars, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki has said that cryptocurrency and NFTs present a “previously unimaginable opportunity to grow the connection between creators and their fans” on YouTube.
Wojcicki didn’t announce any specific plans to add blockchain functionality to YouTube, but calling NFTs an “opportunity” sure makes it sound like the site is working on something. YouTube head of gaming Ryan Wyatt announced today that he’s leaving YouTube for a blockchain company, as did senior director of creator partnerships Jamie Byrne (for a different blockchain company), so clearly others at YouTube are interested in cryptocurrency and NFTs. (Except in the extremely unlikely case that the departing Wyatt and Byrne were the only ones aside from Wojcicki who’ve been sipping on crypto hype.)
“We’re always focused on expanding the YouTube ecosystem to help creators capitalize on emerging technologies, including things like NFTs, while continuing to strengthen and enhance the experiences creators and fans have on YouTube,” Wojcicki wrote in an open letter about YouTube’s 2022 plans. The site will likely elaborate on its blockchain intentions within the year, then.
Otherwise, a big focus of the letter is Shorts, YouTube’s answer to TikTok videos. Wojcicki announced that YouTube has recorded 5 trillion views of Shorts, and said that its teams are “working to make it even easier for creators and users to create gaming-related Shorts.” Also regarding the gaming category, YouTube is “focusing on better live discoverability and more chat features” and plans to add membership gifting functionality this year, Wojcicki said.
Along with Twitter and YouTube, voice and text chat network Discord once toyed with the idea of NFT integration, but said last November that it has no present plans to implement the ideas. As for NFTs in games themselves, we recently took a look at current and upcoming projects, and there’s a whole lot more talk than anything else right now.
If a giant like YouTube gets into NFTs, though, I wonder if companies like Discord and big game developers won’t follow suit. It becomes a little easier to push through the backlash when you can point to an enormous company like Google and say, “Well, they’re doing it.”