Major video game publisher Ubisoft has revealed Quartz, the company’s new platform that will allow players to earn, collect, and trade non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in the form of so-called Digits—“the first NFTs playable in AAA games and running on energy-efficient technology.”
“Each and every Digit is a high-quality asset and a unique, collectible piece of a Ubisoft world,” the company said. “The first three Digits will be rewarded to early adopters for free on December 9, 12, and 15.”
Introducing Ubisoft Quartz
We're bringing the first energy efficient NFTs playable in a AAA game to Ghost Recon: Breakpoint!
— Ubisoft (@Ubisoft) December 7, 2021
Coincidentally, the company has chosen its “live service” shooter Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint for this NFT debut—a game that was almost unilaterally lambasted on release for its technical issues coupled with an abundance of microtransactions.
Mainstream gaming meets NFTs
NFTs are a special type of non-interchangeable, cryptographically unique tokens that cannot be replicated or counterfeited. Thanks to these qualities, they became quite popular among collectors and their prices can reach tens of millions of dollars.
In their turn, Ubisoft’s Digits will be represented in the company’s games as various cosmetic items that players can use to change the appearance of their characters, weapons or vehicles, for example.
“Between the uniqueness of each item, materialized by the serial number engraved on them, and the higher control offered to players to use their Digits or trade them with others in a safe and secure environment, Ubisoft Quartz offers new and exciting ways for our community to engage with Ghost Recon Breakpoint,” explained Baptiste Chardon, blockchain product director at Ubisoft.
According to the announcement, Digits will leverage Tezos (XTZ), an open-source decentralized blockchain based on a proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus protocol. Unlike proof-of-work (PoW) networks such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, PoS blockchains are much less computationally and energy-intensive.
“We have been focusing on the exploration of this energy-efficient alternative, driving us to leverage Tezos, the Proof-of-Stake blockchain technology Ubisoft Quartz relies on,” noted blockchain technical director Didier Genevois. “This type of blockchain achieves the same results while using significantly less energy than Proof-of-Work protocols.”
As an example, he noted that a transaction on Tezos is equivalent to 30 seconds of video streaming, “while on Bitcoin, it is equivalent to watching one year straight of video streaming!”
“Ubisoft Quartz is a new experience that will co-exist with existing systems, most notably the current in-game store available in Ghost Recon Breakpoint. And keep in mind that the first Digits will be free for our players to claim,” Chardon added.
Gamers’ breaking point
However, comments on Twitter showed that many regular gamers don’t share Ubisoft’s enthusiasm when it comes to new monetization tools, despite Chardon reassuring that “Digits are cosmetics only” and “would not unbalance the experience for our players.”
This attitude is partly understandable since Ubisoft has become notorious in recent years for adding controversial monetization systems in its games. Apart from cosmetic items, the company is also known for offering numerous “boosters” that have seemingly become mandatory in most of its projects.
Ubi coming in with another reason that I feel like “AAA” devs need to collapse and let the industry heal. Unfinished games all over the place, greed running rampant, not caring about their quality anymore, all of them need to vanish so we can reset stuff.
— Captain Coco (@ImNovaG) December 8, 2021
For example, many accuse Ubisoft of intentionally creating “problems,” such as slow and tedious progression and character levelling, in popular series like Assassin’s Creed or Far Cry—only to sell a “solution” in the form of experience or in-game currency boosters.
In this light, it is hardly surprising that Ubisoft’s introduction of NFTs—which many also consider speculative and exploitative in nature—was met with skepticism.
“None of this stuff makes videogames any better. It doesn’t make them more fun or interesting. It just turn them into proxy financial instruments, corrupting their core design and exposing them to market forces that will enrich some, but exclude and disappoint most. This sucks,” tweeted Australian video game reviewer Ralph Panebianco, better known as SkillUp on YouTube.
None of this stuff makes videogames any better. It doesn't make them more fun or interesting. It just turn them into proxy financial instruments, corrupting their core design and exposing them to market forces that will enrich some, but exclude and disappoint most. This sucks. https://t.co/M6x1Gy5vSS
— Skill Up (@SkillUpYT) December 7, 2021
Ubisoft’s choice of Breakpoint as the first project to introduce Digits didn’t help matters either. Released two years ago, the game currently sits at an average critic score of 58 out of 100 on Metacritic, with Time Magazine’s Matthew Gault calling it “the worst video game I’ve played in 2019.” In their turn, regular users gave it a much lower aggregate score of 2.7 out of 10, with many citing “predatory microtransactions on top of €100 special editions.”
“Microtransactions are EVERYWHERE. Anything you see has a paywall in front of it. The game is a joke costing 50 euro for the Standard Edition (and ludicrous 100 euro for Ultimate) and yet you have to spend a fortune in-game for weapons, cosmetics, boosts,” one reviewer pointed out.
On the bright side, it looks like Ubisoft’s foray into the world of NFTs has made at least one group of people unequivocally happy—Tezos holders. Simply because the price of XTZ, the blockchain’s native token, has surged following yesterday’s announcement—and is still hovering at roughly $5.61, up 33% on the day. Still, can’t win them all.
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