A Ubisoft executive says the publisher's scheme to integrate non-fungible tokens (NFTs) into its games received backlash because players simply “don’t get it”.
Speaking to Finder (opens in new tab), Nicolas Pouard, VP at Ubisoft’s Strategic Innovations Lab, said Ubisoft would continue rolling out the Ubisoft Quartz platform to implement NFTs into its game, blaming its poor reception on the misunderstanding of players.
“It was a reaction we were expecting. We know it's not an easy concept to grasp,” Pouard said. “But Quartz is really just a first step that should lead to something bigger. Something that will be more easily understood by our players.”
“I think gamers don't get what a digital secondary market can bring to them,” he added. “For now, because of the current situation and context of NFTs, gamers really believe it's first destroying the planet and, second, just a tool for speculation."
Ubisoft, though, according to Pouard, is more concerned with the “end game” and letting players resell items.
“So, it's really for them. It's really beneficial. But they don't get it for now.”
Pouard suggests Ubisoft’s next move is to “make sure what [they’re] doing will make even more sense to gamers”, doubling down on the idea that it is players’ misunderstanding of the technology that’s led to the backlash, rather than players’ concerns over the platform’s impact.
Elsewhere in the interview, he likens the potential for players earning money using NFTs to the possibility for games to teach them history and soft skills.
“We're interested in play-to-earn. For us it's the same logic to what we're doing today,” he says. “So, we are trying to think of Ubisoft games as a place where your experience can provide the most value possible. Meaning, there are different kinds of value as you play a game.
“There's the fun, of course. The pleasure you take by just playing. There is the fact that you can learn things. For instance, in Assassin's Creed, you learn about history, and we worked on experiments in old games when you could learn new soft skills.
“So, a game can be a lot of things and can bring a lot of things to players. Adding a real-world value reward might be the next addition on top of all the value a game already offers,” said Pouard.
Analysis: missing the point
The idea that Ubisoft’s NFT program was received poorly because players don’t properly understand blockchain technology, or how it can benefit them, is not a good one. Following the announcement of Ubisoft Quartz, consumers and developers within Ubisoft (opens in new tab) voiced their concerns about NFTs, questioning not only their environmental impact and use as speculative assets, but also their necessity in providing the kind of gaming experience Pouard touts here.
Rather than addressing those concerns head-on, Pouard has waved them away, diminishing them as petty doubts from those uninitiated in the world of blockchain technology. His emphasis on the “end game” of Quartz even goes some way to confirm the suspicions of its doubters, suggesting Ubisoft is more concerned with the eventual profitability of the platform rather than the externalities it will create.
Pouard’s comments certainly won’t win over skeptics. It’s a bad look for any burgeoning community to question the legitimacy of its critics. Until Ubisoft is able to fully address the concerns of those left unimpressed by NFTs, selling them as the next step in gaming won't be easy.
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