Ubisoft's blockchain experiment has finally borne fruit. It announced today that it's launching Quartz, a new platform for buying and selling non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that can be used in its various triple-A games.
It's calling its own proprietary NFTs "Digits," and the first ones are purchasable and usable in Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Breakpoint. In a press release, Ubisoft touted the beauty of these "Digits," and described them as truly unique cosmetic items that can be sold for real money.
We've noted quite a lot here at Game Developer about the high environmental impact of NFT technology, and on that front, Ubisoft says it's made improvements. Quartz uses the blockchain Tezos, which relies on a proof-of-stake algorithm to add new blocks to its chain. That means that the computing user that owns the largest percentage of coin from the chain is the one allowed to mint new coin.
This gets around blockchain technology's use of proof-of-work algorithms, which are expensive computational puzzles that can burn an entire household's annual electricity use in a single transaction.
Ubisoft claims its transaction method only consumes the electrical equivalent of streaming 30 seconds of video.
There is still however the uncomfortable encroachment of attempting to turn digital in-game items into real property, and the fact that this system really is just a more complicated version of Team Fortress 2's hat market.
It's also very weird to see Ubisoft suddenly pivot to talking about "putting control in players' hands," when it's the company that's relied on Ubisoft Connect's infamously bad digital rights management system for PC versions of its games for eons.
Ubisoft is attempting to skate by the fact that minors play its games by requiring that Digit purchasers be 18 years old, but it's unclear if they will be successful in keeping them from reaching younger players' hands.