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Photo: Microsoft

Microsoft’s head of gaming, Phil Spencer, is being cautious about the prospects of NFT gaming, saying some current efforts feel “exploitive.”

Why it matters: As the operator of one of the biggest online gaming marketplaces in the world, Xbox has the power to let NFT gaming companies and their projects into its ecosystem or keep them out.

What he's saying: “What I'd say today on NFT, all up, is I think there's a lot of speculation and experimentation that's happening, and that some of the creative that I see today feels more exploitive than about entertainment," Spencer told Axios.

  • Most NFT gaming projects involve the concept of players being able to buy and sell in-game items and land.
  • Boosters advocate a model of gaming in which playing games earns people money. Skeptics question whether the games are misleading or scams, to say nothing of NFT's environmental impact.

The bottom line: Spencer doesn't draw a firm line against all NFTs.

  • “I don't think it necessitates that every NFT game is exploitive. I just think we're kind of in that journey of people figuring it out.
  • “And I can understand that early on you see a lot of things that probably are not things you want to have in your store.”
  • “I think anything that we looked at in our storefront that we said is exploitive would be something that we would, you know, take action on,” he added. “We don't want that kind of content.”

Go deeper

Xbox chief thinks today’s Microsoft could have kept Bungie

Destiny 2 charcters sporting Bungie 30th anniversary outfits. The middle figure's right shoulder pad and headgear appear to be references to Halo. Screenhot: Bungie.

Microsoft’s head of gaming understands why Bungie, arguably the most acclaimed game studio in Xbox history, left the tech giant to go independent many years ago, but he thinks his company might have been able to retain them today.

Driving the news: Some fascinating what-if scenarios about Bungie and Xbox are top of mind going into next week, thanks to some major releases.

U.S. sounds alarm on Ukraine

Conscripts line up at a Russian railway station yesterday before departing for Army service. Photo: Sergei Malgavko/TASS via Getty Images

The Biden administration is "deeply concerned" by new intelligence — detailed for Axios and other outlets — showing Russia stepping up preparations to invade Ukraine as soon as early 2022.

Why it matters: Most of this was known from public sources and satellite imagery, but the administration is sending a stronger signal by releasing specific details from the intelligence community.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Philanthropy in the age of crypto

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The best charities are increasingly effective. That's the clear message sent by Open Philanthropy, the think tank that doubles as the grant-making vehicle for Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and his wife Cari Tuna.

Why it matters: With tech and crypto wealth becoming a fast-growing part of the philanthropic pie, there's more of an emphasis than ever on effectiveness — what the newly-divorced Melinda French Gates, in her recent Giving Pledge update, characterizes as giving as "impactfully as possible."