Ubisoft Responds To Backlash Over NFT Program
"It's a reaction we were expecting. We know it's not an easy concept to grasp. But Quartz is really just a first step that should lead to something bigger."
Following the reveal of Ubisoft Quartz last December, the company known for its work on the Ghost Recon, Assassin's Creed, and Rainbow Six series faced a lot of consumer backlash over incorporating NFTs into its gaming ecosystem. Ubisoft has since addressed these complaints and concerns, explaining it anticipated this reaction and chalk up the less-than-warm reception to misunderstanding--something they hope to fix as they delve even deeper into NFTs.
In an interview with Finder, Ubisoft Strategic Innovations Lab VP Nicolas Pouard and Ubisoft Blockchain Technical Director Didier Genevois weighed in on the controversy surrounding Ubisoft Quartz. According to Pouard, while the team is frustrated with the negative reception the program received, he understands it, and appreciates fans expressing "how passionate they are about their hobby and gaming in general." Pouard then added that regardless, the company still "strongly believes" in what it is doing and they will continue to find ways to keep integrating.
"We know it's not an easy concept to grasp. But Quartz is really just a first step that should lead to something bigger," Pouard said. "Something that will be more easily understood by our players. That's the way we think about it and why we will keep experimenting. We will keep releasing features and services around this first initiative."
Pouard continued, explaining he thinks gamers "don't get what a digital secondary market can bring to them."
"Because of the current situation and context of NFTs, gamers really believe its first destroying the planet, and second just a tool for speculation," Pouard said. "But what we [at Ubisoft] are seeing first is the end game. The end game is about giving players the opportunity to resell their items once they're finished with them or they're finished playing the game itself. So, it's really, for them. It's really beneficial. But they don't get it for now."
Following these comments, critics of Ubisoft Quartz have taken to Twitter claiming Ubisoft is less in the know about NFTs than its fanbase--despite the Pouard's "condescending" remarks.
An important thing to note, here, is that Pouard's focus is entirely on the selling and re-selling of items. He frames this as a good thing for the user, but Ubisoft takes a cut of every transaction. They want a thriving aftermarket because the entire aftermarket is cash to them. https://t.co/dvDfL7oNRD— Chris Franklin (@Campster) January 27, 2022
As the VP of innovation, Pouard has innovated on the art of being a condescending lump.— Connor (@mmofallout) January 27, 2022
"We know it's not an easy concept to grasp."
No, we get it. You discovered the Steam workshop from 2012, implemented it into a game that nobody bought, in a way that aesthetically sucks.
According to Pouard and Genevois, one of the key things Ubisoft had to consider when rolling out Ubisoft Quartz was whether or not to embrace the terminology of NFTs or not. Ultimately, the team decided that if they didn't address the fact that "Digits"--the in-game tradable items--were NFTs, they were certain players would have noticed and criticized their lack of transparency--as well as assume the practice was not environmentally conscious. Genevois said Ubisoft is taking measures to be environmentally friendly with Quartz, making "an active choice of going with Tezos."
For those unfamiliar with Tezos, Tezos is a blockchain system that uses "proof-of-stake" to show ownership over an NFT rather than "proof-of-work," ultimately making Tezos a more energy efficient choice. However, these is a catch: while Ubisoft Quartz uses Tezos, the items can then be sold on a third-party marketplace for cryptocurrencies like Ethereum, which uses a "proof-of-work" system and has been cited as extremely taxing on the environment.
Pouard then explained opting into Ubisoft Quartz is a "personal choice" and Ubisoft will at no point "force our players to use Quartz and Digits." However, the VP then stated that for players wanting certain items--such as Quartz-exclusive Ghost Recon: Breakpoint skin--they must go through Quartz.
When it comes to whether or not players will see NFTs infiltrate their favorite Ubisoft games in the future, Pouard said these decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis. "We are a very decentralized company already," Pouard said. "We let each project's team decide if they want to have Digits or not. Or use the Quartz platform itself. So, it's open."
While NFTs might seem like an inevitability in gaming at this time, rest assured that Riot has confirmed NFTs are not one of Killjoy's hobbies.
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