Dec 7, 2021 - Technology

Ubisoft is the first big publisher to add in-game NFTs

Screenshot: Ubisoft promotional image for one of its in-game NFTs.
Screenshot: Ubisoft promotional image for one of its in-game NFTs.

Ubisoft military shooter Ghost Recon Breakpoint will get three limited-edition in-game NFT items on Thursday — a helmet, a gun skin (read: look) and leg armor — which players will be able to resell through a new platform called Quartz.

Why it matters: While big game companies including Zynga, Square Enix and Take-Two have dabbled with or expressed interest in NFTs, Ubisoft is the first big publisher to put them in a major game.

  • NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are IDs that can be associated with digital items, theoretically making a JPEG or virtual piece of property scarce. Ubisoft is calling its NFTs "Digits."
  • They are tracked on a blockchain. Ubisoft is using one called Tezos, which the company said it chose because of its tech’s limited carbon footprint.

Between the lines: NFT gaming is of high interest to investors and highly controversial.

  • Supporters, including Ubisoft, argue that NFT and blockchain can empower gamers to own, sell and profit from digital items that they win or create in games. As Wired noted recently, "The Escapist Fantasy of NFT Games Is Capitalism."
  • Skeptics have called NFT gaming models scams, have criticized the electricity usage of major blockchains like Ethereum, and questioned why NFT tech is even needed when some games and gaming platforms have allowed for item sales without them.
  • Valve has banned NFT games, and Xbox boss Phil Spencer told Axios that some early NFT projects seemed exploitive.

What they’re saying: In an in-house interview discussing the Ubisoft NFT drive, the company’s blockchain product director, Baptiste Chardon, said the tech could introduce an ecosystem that is “truly community driven.”

  • “While this can seem trivial at first, it is a totally new approach compared to the walled-garden digital environments we are used to.”
  • Comments under the Ghost Recon announcement’s YouTube trailer were largely negative, with players calling the initiative “tone deaf,” and scoffing that the NFTs would be desirable. Referencing Ubisoft’s own satirical show about a blundering video game company, someone wrote: “You sure this isn't marketing for Mythic Quest”?

What’s next: Ubisoft says more NFTs will be added to the company’s games.

Go deeper