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Frustrated NFT peddler Ubisoft complains that players simply "don't get it"

"Gamers really believe it's first destroying the planet, and second just a tool for speculation."

Chris Kerr, News Editor

January 28, 2022

3 Min Read

Ubisoft turned heads in December last year when it announced Quartz, an NFT platform that would let players buy and sell unique virtual goods for real-world cash, raising concerns about the environmental impact of such an initiative and what NFTs in video games would actually mean for players.

The French publisher moved to answer its critics by explaining Quartz would use the Tezos blockchain to circumvent the proof-of-work algorithms that require vast amounts of energy to facilitate a single transaction.

According to Ubisoft, that means a single transaction on Quartz will use roughly the same amount of energy as a short video stream. Despite those reassurances, players and employees continued to question the company's NFT push, with the Quartz announcement video being met with dislikes and general derision.

Environmental skepticism aside, the general mood surrounding NFT's can seemingly be boiled down to a simple question: what's the point? Speaking to Kotaku last year, one Ubisoft employee described NFTs as "another way to milk money" rather than a means to creating fun, engaging experience. Players, meanwhile, were apparently slow to take to Quartz, with the platform reportedly struggling to generate interest (and sales) at launch.

Despite those setbacks Ubisoft continues to push into the space, and now one exec has indicated the company is only facing an uphill battle because players simple "don't get" what the technology can offer them.

Speaking to Australian outlet Finder about Quartz, Nicolas Pouard, VP at Ubisoft's Strategic Innovations Lab, suggested that Ubisoft is chasing a bigger picture that's being obscured by conversations about environmentalism and financial speculation.

"I think gamers don't get what a digital secondary market can bring to them. For now, because of the current situation and context of NFTs, gamers really believe it's first destroying the planet, and second just a tool for speculation," said Pouard.

"But what we [at Ubisoft] are seeing first is the end game. The end game is about giving players the opportunity to resell their items once they're finished with them or they're finished playing the game itself. So, it's really, for them. It's really beneficial. But they don't get it for now."

Pouard admitted the situation has been a "bit frustrating" for Ubisoft, but said the company believes Quartz is a step in the right direction for NFTs and its wider business. Curiously, the VP added that Ubisoft considered launching Quartz without mentioning NFTs -- the platform itself calls them 'Digits' -- but felt players would have quickly seen past the ruse.

"We considered not speaking about the technology, but we know our players. They would've known Digits were NFTs. So, we decided it would not be very smart to try to hide it. Our principle is to build a safe place and safe environment with Quartz. So, we need to be transparent on what we are doing."

You can read the full interview with Pouard over on Finder, and trust us when we say you'll absolutely want to check this one out.

About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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