And now, here comes the blockchain to start messing up your video games as well, as several big companies (namely Ubisoft and Square Enix) meekly dip their toe in the murky waters of public opinion, to try and determine whether NFTs should or should not be a thing, only to be met with the kind of resounding and hearty all-caps “NO!” that hasn’t been seen since the backlash to Bethesda’s Horse Armor DLC for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, which happened anyway and single-handedly messed up great swathes of the video game industry with grotty microtransactions and icky ‘Free to Play’-ness. No one wants it, but that’s not going to stop them because there’s a sliver of the population who’ll fall for it, and you know what that means? That means big bucks, so stuff the consequences.
Ubisoft’s efforts thus far seem to be focused on the video game staple of hats: buy an NFT hat, and that hat’s yours. No one else can own it. But it’s not like you’re getting a visually unique hat; no, it’s exactly the same as any other hat, it’s just that yours has a teeny-tiny ID number etched on it, something that’s functionally useless and impossible to see during gameplay. Is that really worth raising global temperatures and flooding entire seaside villages for? I’d argue that it isn’t.
Video games are transient: we largely play games only until another better, shinier one comes along. They never last forever, and even the big hitters get old and fall by the wayside eventually. If you’d have bought an NFT loincloth for your Level 55 Orc Mage in 2004, even if you were a die-hard fan of the game, be honest – you’d have long forgotten you even owned it by now. Another little slice of rainforest, gone, for nothing.
I was at the Develop conference last year. It’s a lovely event where game devs get together and excitedly share what they’re working on. While there, I met with several people who in the same breath as telling me they were working on something blockchain-related, also apologised. All of them. “I’m working on a blockchain game, I’m really sorry, please don’t hate me. Ha ha!” What a business pitch. What a strategy. What a way to live your life, grovelling and apologetic because you’re a net drain on society.
Look, let’s all be honest: the blockchain brings zero tangible benefits to video games, but it does bring a whole host of environmental catastrophes. The only solution to this is to not buy any games that feature NFTs. Don’t buy any games by companies that support NFTs. Shunning NFTs is a downright heroic move, and we all need to put our collective feet down now, before it’s too late.
Or is it already too late? Deep down, it feels a bit like it’s already too late, doesn’t it?