“In recent months, at least half a dozen game studios have revealed plans to add NFTs to their games or said they were considering doing so,” reports the New York Times.
Then they were confronted by gamers like 18-year-old Christian Lantz, who for years has played GSC Game World’s first-person shooter game S.T.A.L.K.E.R.
Mr. Lantz was incensed. He joined thousands of fans on Twitter and Reddit who raged against NFTs in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.’s sequel. The game maker, they said, was simply looking to squeeze more money out of its players. The backlash was so intense that GSC quickly reversed itself and abandoned its NFT plan.
“The studio was abusing its popularity,” Mr. Lantz, who lives in Ontario, said. “It’s so obviously being done for profit instead of just creating a beautiful game….”
[C]lashes over crypto have increasingly erupted between users and major game studios like Ubisoft, Square Enix and Zynga. In many of the encounters, the gamers have prevailed — at least for now…. Players said they see the moves as a blatant cash grab. “I just hate that they keep finding ways to nickel-and-dime us in whatever way they can,” said Matt Kee, 22, a gamer who took to Twitter in anger this month after Square Enix, which produces one of his favorite games, Kingdom Hearts, said it was pushing into NFTs. “I don’t see anywhere mentioning how that benefits the gamer, how that improves gameplay. It’s always about, ‘How can I make money off this?'”
Much of their resentment is rooted in the encroachment of micro transactions in video games. Over the years, game makers have found more ways to profit from users by making them pay to upgrade characters or enhance their level of play inside the games. Even if people had already paid $60 or more for a game upfront, they were asked to fork over more money for digital items like clothing or weapons for characters…. Merritt K, a game streamer and editor at Fanbyte, a games industry site, said gamers’ antagonism toward the companies has built up over the last decade partly because of the growing number of micro transactions. So when game makers introduced NFTs as an additional element to buy and sell, she said, players were “primed to call this stuff out. We’ve been here before.”
That has led to bursts of gamer outrage, which have rattled the game companies. In December, Sega Sammy, the maker of the Sonic the Hedgehog game, expressed reservations about its NFT and crypto plans after “negative reactions” from users. Ubisoft, which makes titles like Assassin’s Creed, said that it had misjudged how unhappy its customers would be after announcing an NFT program last month. A YouTube video about the move was disliked by more than 90 percent of viewers. “Maybe we under-evaluated how strong the backlash could have been,” said Nicolas Pouard, a Ubisoft vice president who heads the French company’s new blockchain initiative.
Game companies said their NFT plans were not motivated by profit. Instead, they said, NFTs give fans something fun to collect and a new way for them to make money by selling the assets. “It really is all about community,” said Matt Wolf, an executive at the mobile game maker Zynga, who is leading a foray into blockchain games. “We believe in giving people the opportunity to play to earn.”
The article also rounds up examples of game companies it says have “come out against crypto.”
- “Phil Spencer, the head of Microsoft’s Xbox, told Axios in November that some games centered on earning money through NFTs appeared ‘exploitative’ and he would avoid putting them in the Xbox store.”
- “Valve, which owns the online game store Steam, also updated its rules last fall to prohibit blockchain games that allow cryptocurrencies or NFTs to be exchanged….”
- “Tim Sweeney, the chief executive of Epic Games, the maker of the game Fortnite, said his company would steer clear of NFTs in its own games because the industry is riddled with ‘an intractable mix of scams.’ (Epic will still allow developers to sell blockchain games in its online store.)”
- The blowback has affected more than just game studios. Discord, the messaging platform popular with gamers, backtracked in November after users threatened to cancel their paid subscriptions over a crypto initiative.”