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Blockchain game studio Immutable is making layoffs

Immutable is credited with "pioneering the world's first blockbuster NFT trading-card game."

The web3 game developer Immutable Games Studio has laid off multiple staff members, it's been learned. Senior designer James Wakeham broke the news on Twitter, saying that he and other staff members were made redundant. 

Founded in 2018 by Alex Connolly and James and Robbie Ferguson, and part of the blockchain company Immutable X, the studio develops NFT games. Immutable is credited with "pioneering the world's first blockbuster NFT trading-card game" in Gods Unchained. It has also been involved with the development of upcoming mobile action-RPG, Guild of Guardians

In March, Immutable X partnered with retailer GameStop to establish a $100 million fund in Immutable tokens to assist those looking to create NFT technology and content. GameStop recently launched its own NFT marketplace, which came under fire when it had to remove an NFT referencing a man who fell to his death during the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks from its marketplace.

NFTs are trying to make a place for themselves in gaming

Right now, numerous NFT and blockchain companies are trying to push into the mainstream video game market, while some developers and publishers have also flirted with the controversial technology. 

Not everyone is sold, however, and last week Microsoft said it would be banning NFTs and blockchain technology from its popular online game, Minecraft. The console maker said the tech "creates a scenario of the haves and the have-nots [...] and does not align with Minecraft values of creative inclusion and playing together." 

In response, NFT Worlds, a platform seeking to leverage the technology in Minecraft, announced its own plans to make its own game and platform. Minecraft's core mechanics would serve as the base, said NFT Worlds, but feature "modernization and active development Minecraft has been missing for years [...] this will usher in a more accessible, ownable, and enjoyable playing experience."

Last week, Square Enix announced plans to release a new statue of Final Fantasy VII protagonist Cloud Strife as part of a Digital Plus Edition that will feature "exchange tickets to redeem a digital certificate of authenticity and a digital version of the figure which can be enjoyed on PC or smart phone." The digital version uses technology from NFT platform Enjin, and according to Square Enix "may ultimately become useless" should Enjin deactivate its services in the future.

Additionally, PlayStation Studios veterans John Garvin and Michael Mumbauer formed game developer Liithios in June, who plans to release its debut title, Ashfall, as the first-ever web3 game on consoles. The pair said Ashfall will be "the first triple-A narrative driven game in open development" and hope to evolve the title into "a multiplayer PvP and PvE transmedia world." 

Games that have previously attempted to incorporate NFTs have generally garnered a negative reception from players. Late last year, Stalker 2: Heart of Chernobyl developer GSC Game World announced plans to feature NFT content, and later u-turned after a backlash. "The interests of our fans and players are top priority for the team," wrote GSC at the time. "We're making this game for you to enjoy -- whatever the cost is. If you care, we care too."

Despite the player backlash, some publishers such as Ubisoft and Com2Us, remain interested to NFTs and blockchain technology. But even game developers themselves have expressed a lack of interest. In January, the Game Developers Conference held a survey where 72% of developers had no interest in either crypto or NFTs. A vast majority of developers noted that NFTs are needless and "tech looking for a purpose."

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