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GDC Survey: Interest in crypto, NFTs grows, but game devs remain skeptical

Over one-fourth of respondents said their studios were at least somewhat interested in cryptocurrency or NFTs, but a majority said their companies were not interested at all.

One of the newest—and possibly divisive—additions to the industry are cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens (NFTs). As more major studios announce their intention to add NFTs or crypto payment tools into their games, we wanted to know how widespread this practice was becoming and how game developers felt about it.

The Game Developers Conference asked developers to share their thoughts on blockchain development as part of the 10th annual State of the Game Industry Survey.

Click here to download the 2022 GDC State of the Game Industry report.

Over one-fourth (27%) of respondents said their studios were somewhat or very interested in cryptocurrency, and 28% said the same about NFTs. However, a majority of game industry professionals said their companies were not interested at all in cryptocurrency (72%) or NFTs (70%). The current implementation of both technologies is still very limited, with 1% of respondents saying that their studio already uses either.

When asked how they felt about the possibility of cryptocurrency or NFTs in games, a few called it “the future of gaming.” However, a vast majority of respondents spoke out against both practices—noting their potential for scams, overall monetization concerns, and the environmental impact.

Vox Pop: What are your thoughts on the use of cryptocurrency or NFTs in video games and what do you think their impact will be?

“It’s the wave of the future.”

“How this hasn’t been identified as a pyramid scheme is beyond me.”

“I think it is a tech looking for a purpose. People will be interested in it as a gamble to make money, but there’s not enough of a public demand for it to be an actual currency.”

"Why do we need them? What benefit does it have putting these systems into our games? Who is using these things? It feels like a very small audience. And also, these technologies are still not using sustainable energy and are a target for money laundering. As a developer I feel deeply uncomfortable that there is a push for these. It feels entirely fueled by greed for more money because we read stories about crypto millionaires, when in reality all of it is extremely unstable and unethical."

“We should collectively agree to ban the use of blockchain-based technologies in our industry because of their hugely negative environmental impact.”

“Blockchain is a foundational technology that will transform organizations and accountability, but NFTs and cryptocurrencies in general are a scam.”

“I think this is going to be a massive shift in the way we think about digital goods and ownership/monetization.”

“NFTs and crypto are closely tied to the concept of the metaverse and I believe this to be intentional. The forces affecting interest (media, big companies)
are betting on a new virtual life and to consume, we will need a safer and democratized virtual economy. This is where crypto will disrupt.”

“I look forward to the gold rush turning into a dog pile and wish all involved maximum profit at any cost.”

“I’d rather not endorse burning a rainforest down to confirm someone ‘owns’ a jpeg.”

“Burn ‘em to the ground. Ban everyone involved in them. I work at an NFT company currently and am quitting to get away from it.”

“I personally am quite interested in NFTs and cryptocurrency, but many people in my studio and friend circle do not like them and won’t develop for them. I think NFTs need to get a better reputation when it comes to [the] environment and art theft first, then it might be an interesting way to give digital content unique value.”

"I'd be lying if I said that I don't think NFTs are, at best, stupid, and at worst, predatory and ecologically dangerous. Cryptocurrency, I think, can also be a sensitive thing to deal with. Both have had an immense amount of scams pop up in a very, very short while, and it makes me wonder if that trend will stay.”

"They're going to drive a wedge right in the heart of this industry. It's going to become really clear what folks' motivations are, and it's not going to be pretty." 

The full survey, which includes more insight into the game development community’s thoughts on permanent remote work options, Steam Deck, and so much more, can be downloaded for free here.

GDC returns in-person to San Francisco, March 21-25—registration is open! For more information on GDC 2022, including our virtual options, be sure to visit our website and follow the #GDC22 hashtag on social media.

Subscribe to the GDC newsletter and get regular updates via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or RSS.

Game Developer and GDC are sibling organizations under Informa Tech.

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