Gamers play the NFT video game Axie Infinity on their smartphones on December 15, 2021 in Malabon, a suburb of Manila, Philippines (AFP / Jam STA ROSA)
Purists versus crypto-enthusiasts: Some video game fans are concerned about the commercial temptation of the industry, as major studios increasingly take interest in blockchain technology, which attracts gamers with the promise to earn money.
“Everything that’s being done in this space right now is just bad – it’s downright terrible,” video game designer Mark Venturelli, who recently launched an indictment against technology, told AFP. “blockchain”, or chain of blocks – on which the creation of cyptocurrencies is based in particular -, during the BIG Festival of Sao Paolo, the largest “gaming” festival in Brazil.
Among the many advantages touted by cryptocurrency enthusiasts, the “blockchain”, a kind of huge digital register shared between a multitude of users, would allow players to recover part of the money they spend in games. , or to guarantee them ownership of digital objects.
Critics like Venturelli say the opposite: game makers will rake in more profits while circumventing gambling laws, while greed will kill all fun.
Enough to fuel a lively confrontation within an industry which weighs some 300 billion dollars in revenue worldwide, according to an estimate by the firm Accenture.
– NFTs banned on Minecraft –
In the short term, purists may feel as if they have triumphed over the collapse in cryptocurrency prices. They dragged down the tokens issued in this type of blockchain game, the value of which had initially attracted players.
“No one is playing blockchain games right now,” confirms Mihai Vicol, from the specialist firm Newzoo, to AFP, saying that between 90 and 95% of games have been affected by the cryptoasset crash.
Ubisoft, one of the biggest video game companies in the world, tried last year to introduce a marketplace in one of its hit games to trade NFTs (AFP/Frederic J. BROWN)
This sector had already experienced a serious image problem earlier this year after a spectacular theft of 600 million dollars on Axie Infinity, a video game based on a “blockchain” extremely popular in the Philippines.
Ubisoft, one of the world’s largest video game companies, tried last year to introduce a marketplace into one of its hit games to trade NFTs, those unique digital tokens that associate with a digital object a certificate of authenticity guaranteeing official ownership to its sole holder.
But gamer forums, many of which are marked by anti-crypto sentiment, have gone into flames to oppose it.
– “Revolutionizing” video games –
Last July, Minecraft, a world-building game hugely popular with kids and teens, announced that it would no longer allow NFTs, considering them to be against the “spirit” of the platform by creating “a model of scarcity and exclusion”.
Last July, Minecraft, a world-building game hugely popular with kids and teens, announced it would no longer allow NFTs (AFP/Mark RALSTON)
Despite the serial setbacks for cryptocurrency enthusiasts, entrepreneurs promoting “blockchain” aren’t giving up, like Sekip Can Gokalp, whose companies Infinite Arcade and Coda are helping developers introduce the concept of “web3″—a web decentralized based on blockchain- in their games.
According to him, the technology still has the potential to “revolutionize” video games, while reports of a culture clash between gamers and cryptocurrency fans have been exaggerated. His research even suggests that there is significant overlap between the two communities.
Mihai Vicol, however, believes that the “blockchain” video game must find other selling points to succeed. “It may be the future,” he says, “but it will be different from how people envision it today.”
For Mark Venturelli, the lure of profit caused by these games risks causing real damage, particularly in Latin America, by attracting young people. But with new blockchain games emerging every day, he admits the battle is far from over.