The emergence of NFTs marks another way to monetize video games in the future. After a long line of video game moneymaking schemes that are inconsiderate of their audience, can’t we just leave players be?
The last 15 years of the video game industry have seen countless changes and advances to the point it’s astounding. We’ve gone from short, low-polygon games to enormous, state-of-the-art masterpieces made possible by innovative, technological advances like the PS5 and Xbox Series X.
Online multiplayer has soared to ridiculous new heights leading to the lucrative inception of esports. Players of rival platforms can play alongside each other and virtual reality is no longer a dream. And at the same time, Nintendo put out a handheld console that would make the Game Boy blush.
However, all of the good things have to come in exchange for the dark side of gaming: microtransactions, Season Passes, Battle Passes, and now it appears as if NFTs are the new breed of monetization system destined to consume the consumers.
Video games have always been about the money
Let’s not get this twisted, video game devs and publishers have always pretty much put profit at the forefront of a game’s development. It’s understandable to an extent, because like a film, a game has an approximate budget that accounts for its development time, staff costs, and subsequent advertising and marketing. That money needs to be recouped somehow.
So do you know why your NES and SNES games like Ghost ‘n Goblins were so fiendishly difficult? Because space on the cartridges was limited, forcing devs to artificially extend their longevity through difficulty. But do you know the other overlooked reason? Rentals.
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Renting used to be as normal as having breakfast in the morning, and by making every game Dark Souls-levels of brutal, it meant people couldn’t finish them in the allotted time and would have to rent them again — ergo, spend more money.
But as the years went by, more and more ugly and transparent practices started to seep through and infect gaming. One forgotten tactic was the much-maligned ‘Online Pass.’ Games that shipped with online multiplayer would be accompanied by a code needed to access the online component.
That meant that if you bought the game pre-owned then you’d have to cough up even more money to play online. Thankfully, this tactic didn’t last too long, but it didn’t need to as new means were always on the horizon.
EA’s controversial Ultimate Team business model has been beaten to death in terms of debate, but the stonewall fact is that its microtransaction philosophy is one of gaming’s most financially successful strategies, sadly opening the eyes of many companies.
The thought of paying more money for intangible possessions that would become superfluous and meaningless within a year was insane, and now thanks to the rise of YouTube, Twitch, and various other social media platforms, ‘personalities’ are now happy dropping several thousand dollars in one sitting.
Despite worldwide condemnation from players and various governments, they’re as widely accepted as loot boxes, Season Passes, and Battle Passes. After all, DLC is still just more content for the game you’ve already paid for, and Battle Passes are designed in such a way to keep players engaged.
NFTs are a dangerous persuasive extortion
Depending on who you want to trust, NFTs have actually been around since either 2014 or 2015! But their popularity boomed in early-mid 2021 with the internet going crazy for the new hype, the new crypto.
Non-Fungible Tokens in laymen’s terms are pieces of digital media that you can buy and legally own. Pictures, avatars, GIFs, cosmetic items in a game, there are so many opportunities and avenues for people and companies to explore. Millennial celebrities like Logan Paul and Amouranth are taking full advantage of NFTs and are making big money as a result.
However, the long-term environmental impact caused by NFTs is being completely ignored as more server space is required to store these NFTs, causing more power to be used, in turn requiring a greater supply of resources that will harm the planet.
The current existence of NFTs is bad enough, but now companies in the video game industry are trying to get in on the act, and it’s not a good thing. As I’ve said, there are already far too many ways to make money out of people who just want to play games.
Yes, it’s a choice, but when the temptation is too great, then the resolve of anyone will be tested. That’s why I think NFTs are inevitably going to be here for good.
Firstly, if there is a relatively fresh market and way to make money, then wouldn’t a company be foolish not to get involved? After all, some NFTs take next-to-no effort to create and can be sold for thousands, and even millions. It would be poor business to leave money out on the table.
Also, if you have the chance to own, effectively, memorabilia from your favorite game series ever that only you can own, then people are obviously going to buy it. If you owned the first-ever official NFT avatar for a popular game franchise, then you would be the scourge of many jealous fans.
The majority of people will pass up this opportunity and see through the obvious intentions of NFTs, but all you need is a minority to embrace them, and you’ve sold your soul to the devil and presumably opened a gate that will never close.
It comes down to a matter of integrity, and without naming names, some companies seem to be quite content with the way they make money in video games. So it would be a no-brainer for them to jump onboard the NFT train and shovel more profit into the roaring furnace of greed.
Ubisoft was one of the first major gaming companies to try and capitalize on NFTs with ‘Ubisoft Quartz,’ and the result? The announcement trailer was met with a deafening, unified roar of disapproval and condemnation. It was very quickly removed, and tempers were frayed even more so when a Ubisoft Executive claimed that gamers “don’t get it.”
Legendary video game voice actor Troy Baker flirted with the dark side before retracting his interest and I’d imagine that he’s not the only one interested. After everything that video games have been through, and the industry seemingly becoming divided by a company-buying war, the last thing we need is NFTs sucking up more money and subjecting gaming to even more extortion.