NFTs in the beloved video game Animal Crossing? For most gamers, the idea should send a chill down the spine. The ex-president of the United States Department of Nintendo, Reggie Fils-Aimé, sees it as the perfect wedding. And thus attracts the ridicule of the community.
At this year’s festival South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas, the media mogul came out as a big blockchain fan last week. Fils-Aimé was at Nintendo from 2006 to 2019. “I believe in technology,” the 61-year-old explained on a panel.
“I bet there were some people in this audience who would buy my island in Animal Crossing,” mused the ex-Nintendo boss. Blockchain makes this possible thanks to the so-called “Play-To-Own” concept. A dream – or not?
“I’m sorry Regginator. Nintendo will never agree to that.” answered kotaku prompt, one of the largest video game websites in the world. And followed with relish: “But hey, you can just sell a worthless NFT of your Animal Crossing island if you really want to monetize the time you’ve spent on a video game using terrible technology, most of them hate gamers.” Ouch.
The comments column below the story reads like an endless litany of nastiness and curses. Just like it always does when the crypto topic comes up in the gaming scene. NFTs and blockchain have become absolute buzzwords. Just mentioning it on social media triggers more people than the words “Lauterbach’, ‘Drosten’ and ‘Ricarda Lang’ put together,” said Petra Fröhlich, founder of the trade journal games economyfixed in February 2022.
The problem: So far, according to Fröhlich, most pitches for play-to-earn and NFTs in games seem like a “goulash of useless speculation, obscene energy requirements and considerable potential for rip-off”. Its proponents could seldom convincingly explain the concrete benefits of a blockchain implementation. Even well-willed observers regularly implode the cerebellum.
Many developers also reject NFTs
Tentative blockchain advances by well-known publishers such as Ubisoft or Electronic Arts in recent months have been almost reflexively acknowledged by the scene with shitstorms of colossal proportions. So far, every classic games company has immediately rowed back. Even their own developers sometimes go on the barricades. And are celebrated like heroes in the scene.
“Long live the enviable French pastime of telling management to fuck itself,” said Kotaku, for example, when Ubisoft employees publicly and harshly criticized their company’s NFT plans. A dozen developers this week started a petition against “exploitative NFTs,” including game designers from Minecraft. A deep rift runs through the industry.
A games company goes all in on the subject of blockchain
That the topic cannot be shitstormed away in the long run, however, shows another message these days. Square Enix, one of the largest video game companies in the world, is converting the business model of its games to blockchain, metaverse and NFTs. And part with almost 50 game brands that have no place in this new era, including the legendary Tomb Raider. The Japanese group sells the brands and developer studios with over 1,400 employees to the Swedish company Embracer Groupat a ridiculous price of 280 million euros.
For comparison: Even for a Düsseldorf medium-sized company like Astragon Entertainment, the studio behind the bus simulator, you paid last 100 million euros. Square Enix is sending a clear signal: the future of the industry sees it in the land of blockchain. Classic games no longer have any significant value.
The market seems to agree: Square Enix stock rose four percent after the deal was announced, while Embracer Group lost three points. And how do gamers react?
You can guess three times.
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