Gaming titan Ubisoft has announced its new system for bringing NFT to its game elements, starting this week.
Non-fungible tokens have increased tremendously in popularity and are widely used for digital art collectibles.
Ubisoft’s system, called “Digits”, will be offered as in-game digital items with unique serial numbers, which can be bought and sold.
Critics argue that NFTs are bad for the environment, while offering few benefits over traditional systems.
Ubisoft, famous for games like the Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, and Rainbow Six series, is the largest game developer and publisher to launch an NFT project yet.
The company claims that it has addressed the environmental issues associated with blockchain technology.
What are NFTs and why are some worth millions?
NFT-based fantasy football cards raise $ 680 million
Its in-game NFTs will be stored on the Tezos blockchain, which it claims is much more energy efficient than other options.
But the use of NFTs in games remains controversial, with many gamers and designers believing that they are only seen as a way to make money, rather than giving players some benefit.
How does it work?
Ubisoft’s first batch of Digits will launch with “limited editions” of a fixed number of in-game digital items for Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint game on Thursday. They can be paid with cryptocurrencies, but only in the launch countries of the US, Canada, Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Australia and Brazil.
Many games, especially free ones like the popular Fortnite or Warzone titles, make a large chunk of their money by selling cosmetic items or in-game “skins” that change the look of characters or items.
Ubisoft is applying NFT technology to this game mechanic and calls its overall ecosystem “Quartz.”
NFTs are always unique in some way, but the in-game cosmetics are identical for all players who get a copy. Ubisoft’s solution is to put a unique serial number on these digital items
In an example shown by the company, a digital helmet worn by a character appears to have a serial number “stamped” into the metal on its appearance, a number that Ubisoft says will be different for each owner.
That serial number will be visible in-game to other players, and each player can only own one of each “Digit” NFT, Ubisoft said.
These digits can be bought and sold with cryptocurrencies like any other token on the blockchain, even for those who do not own or play Ubisoft games. The items will also list previous owners in the game, he said.
“With Digits, items are no longer tied to a player’s game inventory as they can be made available for sale for other eligible players to purchase on third-party platforms outside of the Ubisoft ecosystem,” he said.
But the items are unlikely to be usable in non-Ubisoft games.
Some NFTs give the original creator a “cut” of the sale each time it changes hands. Ubisoft has not said whether it has configured the system that way.
The company is characterizing the full launch as a “full-scale experiment” and says it has been exploring blockchain technology for four years.
What is the problem?
Ubisoft says it is using the Tezos blockchain because it requires “much less power” than other systems used to mine Bitcoin or Ethereum cryptocurrencies.
Traditional cryptographic systems use what is called “proof of work,” which involves powerful computers that perform extremely intensive calculations to verify transactions. Tezos uses a different system, called a “proof of stake.”
But the whole idea of including NFT in games is controversial in itself, despite the interest of another big game company, EA.
Steam, the largest PC gaming platform, has banned NFT and blockchain games from appearing on its store, resulting in the removal of some of the early NFT-based games.
A popular game designer Twitter thread on the subject has been retweeted, arguing that NFTs “are bad for games” and that things are not “made easier or better by building them with NFT and blockchain technology”, has been retweeted.