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Report: Ubisoft CEO compares NFT backlash to microtransaction anger

Yves Guillemot phoned in for a Q&A with Ubisoft Paris employees, something he did not do after last year's sexual harassment scandal.

Bryant Francis, Senior Editor

December 17, 2021

2 Min Read
The logo for Ubisoft Quartz

Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot is attempting to reassure nervous Ubisoft Paris employees about the rollout of Ubisoft Quartz, the company's first effort to take its blockchain gaming experiments into the mainstream.

Those reassurances, according to Kotaku, came in the form of a live Q&A with employees, something Guillemot did not do during last year's scandal over news of alleged sexual harassment and discrimination at the company being revealed to the public.

Why do employees need reassurance? Well for one, Ubisoft Quartz's rollout has not gone smoothly. Multiple websites have noted the intense amount of dislikes on the video announcing the platform intended to distribute in-game items tied to non-fungible blockchain tokens (NFTs). Kotaku also also says that employees working on Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Breakpoint have tracked an increase in player dissatisfaction after the announcement, something that the already-beleaguered game definitely didn't need.

None of these datapoints were a problem for CEO Yves Guillemot, who expressed to developers that the backlash to NFTs is comparable to player anger over microtransactions and loot boxes. That said, neither microtransactions or loot boxes are directly affiliated with increased carbon dioxide emissions or a plethora of pyramid-scheme-adjacent scams.

It is worth noting that Ubisoft Quartz runs on a blockchain running proof-of-stake algorithms, which supposedly do not emit gargantuan amounts of CO2. It generates new additions to the blockchain by checking who owns the most coins generated by by the blockchain, and allocating new coins to that user. 

This is in contrast to the intense, energy-taxing math problems that computers must solve in proof-of-work algorithms.

Guillemot's explanations for where Ubisoft wants to take the business were broad vague, with the phrases "Web 3.0" (referring to new structures of supposedly decentralized platforms that encompass the internet), "metaverse," and "Roblox."

Nevertheless, Ubisoft employees were not impressed. "I’m here to make games and promote fun and entertainment," one employee said to Kotaku. "And I don’t see how this is going in that direction, it’s just another way to milk money."

Knowing Guillemot's view of the Quartz rollout definitely feels important. The video game industry is no stranger to player backlash, and it definitely knows that with enough inertia, it can overwhelm complainants and just shift the industry to new systems. 

It's debatable how well that approach has turned out for systems and advances that are internal to the video game industry, like dedicated servers or loot box systems, but encouraging players to buy speculative financial assets is far shakier ground to be standing on. 

About the Author(s)

Bryant Francis

Senior Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Bryant Francis is a writer, journalist, and narrative designer based in Boston, MA. He currently writes for Game Developer, a leading B2B publication for the video game industry. His credits include Proxy Studios' upcoming 4X strategy game Zephon and Amplitude Studio's 2017 game Endless Space 2.

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