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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Angry gamers are the perfect match for crypto-enthusiasts

Christian Lantz has been a long-time player of S.T.A.L.K.E.R., a first-person shooter game set in a post-apocalyptic Ukraine that has become a cult classic due to its deep role-playing experience. So when the 18-year-old high school student learned that a sequel will be released this year, he knew he had to get his hands on a copy.

GSC Game World, the Ukrainian firm that created S.T.A.L.K.E.R., said last month that the next sequel will add crypto-based assets known as nonfungible tokens, also known as NFTs, into the game. According to GSC, users will be able to purchase and trade NFTs of goods such as apparel for their in-game characters in the new game. The move was lauded as a “transformative step” toward the virtual world known as the metaverse by the firm behind it.

Over the course of more than a year, crypto-mania has reached a fever pitch. NFTs, a kind of cryptocurrency-based asset, have soared in value. A company founded by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, named Block, in honour of the blockchain, the distributed ledger system that underpins digital currencies, was recently renamed in honour of the blockchain. Melania Trump has auctioned off a collection of her own non-compete agreements. Many businesses, from banking to social media to the arts, are hoping that blockchain will bring about a revolution.

However, others believe that the cryptocurrency frenzy has gone too far, too quickly. Those who doubt cryptocurrencies and associated assets such as NFTs believe that they are digital Ponzi schemes, with values artificially inflated above and above their genuine worth. A number of people worry if cryptocurrencies and the blockchain, which are both nebulous notions, will be useful in the long run.

The digital assets, which are confirmed via the use of blockchain technology, serve as evidence of ownership and validity. According to the game developers, this gives players with one-of-a-kind digital objects, which may benefit individuals who sell the NFTs on internet markets. NFTs, according to game publishers, have the potential to be transferred across games in the future, meaning that objects from one game series might have an impact on gameplay in another.

A large part of their dissatisfaction stems from the introduction of microtransactions in video games, which they consider intrusive. Over the years, game developers have discovered new methods to profit from its customers, such as charging them to upgrade characters or increase their level of play inside the games themselves. In other cases, even though customers had already paid $60 or more for a game up front, they were requested to pony up more funds for digital things such as clothes or weapons for their avatars.

Mr. Pouard went on to say that Ubisoft intends to take a percentage of further NFT sales in the future. In his words, “we’re transitioning from a business strategy that is just centred on the game to a business model that is focused on an ecosystem in which every player can be a stakeholder.”

In November, Zynga, which is in the process of being purchased by Take-Two, engaged Mr. Wolf, a veteran of the gaming business, to head up its cryptocurrency efforts. Mr. Wolf said that the idea was to develop new games on the blockchain that would make it simple for users to buy, possess, and trade NFTs. Among the few specifics he supplied was whether or not the NFTs will be transferable across Zynga games and how the endeavour would be implemented.

Other gaming firms have jumped into the world of NFTs, reflecting the idea that cryptocurrency may produce fresh wealth for its players. Yosuke Matsuda, the president of Square Enix, stated in an open letter earlier this month that producing blockchain games will enable gamers to earn money while playing. According to him, this would become “a big strategic focus” for the organisation.

Players, on the other hand, were more irritated as the frequency of NFT announcements from game developers increased. “If it is regarded as mere moneymaking, I would want to make a choice not to continue,” one of Sega Sammy’s executives said in a management meeting last month after consumers expressed dissatisfaction with the company’s cryptocurrency intentions.

Other video game firms have expressed their opposition to cryptocurrency. In November, Phil Spencer, the CEO of Microsoft’s Xbox division, told Axios that certain games oriented on generating money via NFTs seemed to be “exploitative,” and that he would avoid placing them in the Xbox store.

Valve, the company that controls the online gaming retailer Steam, likewise revised its regulations last autumn to prevent blockchain games that enable cryptocurrencies or non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to be traded between players. Despite repeated requests for comment, Valve did not provide any.

The fallout has had an impact on more than just video game developers. Thousands of customers threatened to abandon their paid memberships to Discord, a popular gaming chat site, in November, prompting the company to reverse its decision. Discord’s chief executive, Jason Citron, had teased the initiative on Twitter, which sparked the revolt among the community.

Mr. Kee, the player, said that he will continue to support the crypto efforts of fighting game firms. The creator of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.’s 180-degree turn on NFTs gave him reason to be optimistic that other firms may be influenced by public opinion, he claimed.

The fact that everyone is speaking out against this gives him a nice feeling, he remarked. It has been 10 years since we’ve seen all kinds of ideas come up, and we’re sick of hearing about them.

Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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