by Giovanni Petrantoni, CEO and founder of Fragnova
In 2021, media headlines were dominated by non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which sold for millions of dollars. Whether you liked or hated the fact that an NFT of the doge meme could fetch $4 million, or that digital images of pixelated aliens like those in the CryptoPunk collection have sold for over $10 million, the general consensus was that NFTs are here to stay become, and people were willing to spend big bucks on it.
Just in case you don’t know, NFTs are unique cryptographic tokens that can be tied to objects such as music, media content, in-game items, or perhaps provide certain real-life benefits such as: B. Exclusive access to events. Ownership of these tokens are stored on a blockchain (usually tied to the Ethereum network) so they can be sold and exchanged for cryptocurrency. The hype surrounding NFTs eventually caught the attention of the broader video game industry, but gamers have harshly criticized such plans. That’s because the game industry’s adoption of NFTs has so far been utterly pointless and, in most cases, nothing more than an obvious cash grab.
When Ubisoft announced it would launch its Quartz plan with in-game NFTs (digits) available through Ghost Recon Breakpoint, players were incredibly vocal about how much they hated the idea (69% of players hate NFTs, loud fan spot). When Team17 and GSC Game World announced their NFT plans for Worms and STALKER 2 earlier this year, the backlash from players and gaming media was so great that they were completely abandoned. That’s what happens when you try to bring new ideas to established game franchises that add absolutely no value to their players or the teams they’re building.
It’s not just players who resist NFTs. Minecraft’s creator, Mojang Studios, recently released a statement stating that NFT integration is something they will “never support or allow” NFTs in Minecraft, despite the future use of blockchain technology not completely ruling it out, as Mojang Studios will continue to monitor this to see if it will ever “enable safer experiences or other practical and inclusive uses in gaming.”
Much of the skepticism and criticism of NFTs has stemmed from many people believing the NFT hype is just a giant bubble waiting to burst. Prices have been falling steadily since the beginning of this year, with NFT sales down 92% since peaking at 225,000 sales in September 2021. Couple this with the crumbling crypto market, where the largest currency, Bitcoin, lost around 58% of its value in the second quarter of 2022, and you can see why Team17 and GSC Game World might have dodged a bullet.
Of course, there are many other reasons why the broader gaming industry is so critical of NFTs, and I say the broader gaming industry because web-based games like CryptoKitties and Axie Infinity have only been using NFTs, blockchain technology, and cryptocurrency since 2017. They never made a big song and dance about calling them NFTs and didn’t herald their games as the future of the industry.
The NFTs for Cryptokitties and Axie Infinity are virtual pets and monsters, so they actually had a viable use as the core gameplay mechanics for both Cryptokitties and Axie Infinity revolved around trading, breeding, and fighting (in the case of Axie Infinity) with Kitties and Axies focus. However, that hasn’t stopped any of the games from crashing, especially the value of Axies cryptocurrency Smooth Love Potions, which is used to breed new Axies.
Unfortunately, blockchain technology has fallen victim to the NFT crossfire. Because the data (usually just the metadata, very rarely more) for NFTs is stored on a blockchain ledger, many people see NFTs and blockchain as completely indistinguishable. Ultimately, this means that when people think of blockchain, they also think of NFTs and immediately think, “Oh, this is going to be a scam” or “it’s going to create value that has no utility.”
This is a shame as there are many viable applications for blockchain technology in the video game industry, especially as blockchain technology (when used correctly) can be one of the most efficient ways to leverage the creator economy and ensure creators get paid for theirs Work. let me explain. The complex ownership structures and rights arrangements that exist in the video game industry can make managing rights and royalties challenging. These processes are also incredibly lengthy. For example, it used to take Microsoft Xbox 45 days to distribute royalties to its partners. Now this process only takes four minutes thanks to the smart contracts powered by the blockchain technology they implemented back in 2020.
So Microsoft Xbox used blockchain technology to ensure game developers get paid more efficiently, but mention blockchain to gamers in 2022 and the first thing most people will assume is you’re trying to give them NFTs or sell cryptocurrency. Now that the NFT bubble has burst and the static of crypto enthusiasts has dissipated, there is an opportunity for the broader video game industry to realize the full potential of blockchain technology and realize its value. The current NFT standards are poor, and they have failed to evolve and expand their utilities over the years, utilities essential to making these digital assets relevant to game development. As it stands, the backlash from players to NFTs is justified because they offer no utility other than being a very expensive digital collectible.
With these poorly implemented uses of NFTs out of the picture, I hope it opens up an opportunity for gaming audiences to learn about the use cases of blockchain technology in video games and understand that the words blockchain, NFTs, and cryptocurrency can be completely separate from each other. By using decentralized systems, a game environment is created for developers that offers ownership and the right tools to establish new forms of monetization independent of closed systems.
The long-term vision for the ecosystem we are creating at Fragnova is to allow payments to distribute royalties to others involved in game development through our enhanced contracts such as artists and designers. An example of this will be all mods that will be sold through the Fragnova marketplace in the future. Not only can the creators of these mods (directly or indirectly involved) take payment, but the creators of the original game also get a share of any mods sold that were made for their game(s).
Ultimately, we believe the future of the video game industry lies in the hands of the developer community, facilitated by a decentralized asset store that allows them to create scripts, 3D models, audio, games, in-game items, and more to trade more. There’s a reason companies like Epic are rolling out creator tools for games like Fortnite; They recognize the important role that creators and developers play in shaping their future.
We want to promote the same vision but on a broader scale through the Fragnova network, allowing everyone to access and share the tools they need to do it. Yes, this will involve blockchain technology as this is the most efficient way not only to keep track of this information but also to ensure that the developers of these tools are fairly rewarded. More importantly, it proves that blockchain technology can be put to good use in video games and that there doesn’t need to be a bored monkey or doge in sight!