Game developers talk about their refusal to work on NFT games

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An image of two developers working on a crossed out NFT logo.

Picture: Kotaku / Gorodenkoff (Shutterstock)

After Ubisoft, EA, Square Enix, Sega, and Zynga announcing their interest or direct support for blockchain technology and NFTs, things are looking pretty bleak for anyone who enjoys living on a hospitable planet. But for most of us, even though we find the notion distasteful, the possibility of NFT becoming mainstream in games doesn’t immediately threaten our livelihoods (even if they threaten our climate). For some game developers, however, NFT projects are tied to real money that could put food on the table, and turn it down at a real cost. Here are a few developers who took a personal risk saying “thank you, but no thank you” at NFT gigs.

The CEO of a game development studio

One developer who turned down the opportunity to work on NFT games is the CEO of a studio that has provided technical support for a number of well-known games, and has also co-developed a few games. As CEO, he has personally handled many business inquiries regarding NFTs. While he is open to the idea of ​​blockchain gaming being a viable gaming technology, he remains skeptical about the possibility of offering design benefits that would outweigh the environmental cost. He also wants his studio to become carbon neutral, a desire that goes against the CPU-intensive processes of crypto technology.

“Much of the technology appears to be able to be solved in other, less destructive means,” he said. Kotaku. “I can’t speak for all game developers, but I think the position of a lot of game developers is this: if there is one really interesting thing that can be done with NFTs and blockchain that makes it better, or more interesting, or creative, or new user experiences … then probably a lot more people would be more open to that. But right now, it just doesn’t seem like most companies investing money in the space are actually solving problems or creating new experiences that couldn’t be achieved with other means.

The cryptocurrency supporters he interacted with also didn’t inspire a ton of confidence in this studio head. He felt that potential NFT customers did not understand the game, and their proposals seemed a bit “sketchy.”

I think a lot about [investors] i have no idea what [metaverse] means either. And so, they are just pouring money into these companies of people who have developed technologies related to blockchain or NFT. And then those [blockchain] companies realize, oh we don’t even know how to make video games…They just get the investment because it has the word NFT on it. And then they’re like, oh, shit, we really need to make this game now. And then they go out and find studios that can build it for them.

He also rejected some of NFT’s proposals because some clients had unreasonable expectations with little basis in development reality.

There was a time when a group would ask us for professional advice on how to create a blockchain marketplace for people to buy and sell items in all the different games they play. And I tell myself that’s not how it works. You can’t just make a sword out of World of warcraft Work in Final fantasy.

At one point in our interview, the discussion revolved around how the enthusiasm and confidence of investors in VR has produced mixed results. Virtual reality has never achieved widespread adaptation and it tends to have very specific applications. I asked him if he saw a similar path for blockchain and NFTs. He has said he wants his studio to create ‘traditional’ premium games, and the enthusiasm around blockchain appears to be a transitory trend.

There are all these technologies that people get excited about. Sometimes they do something cool, sometimes they solve a problem, and sometimes it’s just bullshit. You don’t really know until you have a certain amount of time passing and whether it sticks or not. I don’t know if the NFTs are going to stay.

A game designer

A game designer who currently works full time at a game studio spoke on condition of anonymity. He independently corroborated that there was a lot of money for NFT projects floating around in the investment space. Despite his studio’s interest in NFT games, he expressed his opposition to these plans within the company. He said he would reassess his current job if the studio started working on a blockchain project.

While he was previously aware of the environmental consequences and viewed NFTs as a ‘ponzi scheme’, he became increasingly concerned about whether the livelihoods of developers could fall victim to enthusiasm. NFT.

IIt’s a bunch of studios that have no experience with blockchain technology, no experience with cryptocurrency, no experience with non-fungible tokens all of a sudden like: “Hey, there’s a lot of money in there. Lots of big guys are getting into it. “ There is the fear of missing out. And so a lot of studios are pivoting towards NFTs. And they are not ready to do it. Building and maintaining an NFT blockchain system is incredibly intensive, instead of just storing it all on your own server.

Despite all his reluctance, the game designer is also open to the idea that blockchain can benefit game design in one way or another. He just hasn’t seen it yet. In fact, he thinks the core principle of DTVs would likely make the video game experience worse.

[Scarcity is] Which give [NFTs] value in a video game. It goes against all of my design principles. Why would I put something in a game that I think is cool that I worked on as a designer and I want someone to play with it and say: No, only one player can play with that? […] It goes against all that is interesting or fun about making games and playing games.

We also discussed the fundamental volatility of an online game that has a market attached to it. He gave the example of how Cyberpunk 2077 has been removed from the PlayStation storefront, and what if the platforms decide to take an NFT game offline.

There are other issues that designers need to consider so that you don’t bring down your market. Just look at the seven day average of any crypto. This is what your end market will look like. And if a famous person like Elon Musk tweets about it, as soon as a famous indie developer tweets, “Oh, this game sucks,” all your items fill up… As soon as someone finds an achievement, it’s over. . In Neopets, his Neopet money. But in an NFT game, those are the savings of someone’s life.

An independent pixel artist

Not all NFT gigs are from shady cryptobros whose Twitter accounts are only a few months old. Some come from eminent professional knowledge. Castpixel is a pixel artist who has worked on indie games such as Up in smoke and Detective Case and Clown Bot in: The Express Killer. She was approached by a former professional League of Legends player, to whom she “has no ill will”.

Prior to jumping into NFT avatars, Yoon-seop “Locodoco” Choi was a professional esports player for teams such as Team Liquid and TSM. In 2018, he was fired as head coach of the Golden Guardians for doing inappropriate comments towards a Riot employee off camera. Now he runs the Folktales of Lunaria Project, which produces NFT avatars of mutated lunar creatures.

On August 27, Choi reached out to Castpixel via private Twitter messages and asked if she would be interested in working on an NFT project. He ended up offering her either a 20% share of estimated revenue of $ 5 million ($ 1 million) or a lump sum cash payment of $ 50,000 for four weeks of NFT work. It was a significantly higher offer than what Castpixel would be paid by the game companies. When asked if she thinks the exceptionally generous trade deal is legitimate, Castpixel said Kotaku:

Nothing seemed weird. This is the most painful part. It was the scariest part. The guy was good respected.

Castpixel said she was ready to work with Choi, as long as it wasn’t on an NFT project. Unfortunately, he was determined to create these avatars. On September 5, Castpixel turned down the NFT concert. She tweeted on the decline of a million dollar offer because “DTVs are damaging the planet and creating an artificial shortage”. Soon, members of the crypto community harassed her for his decision. Several of them said she knew nothing about TVN, or argued that the money could have been used to finance social issues close to her heart.

Despite the backlash, Castpixel held on to its position:

I know [big artists] doing NFTs because it’s money on the side. But it’s really guaranteed for people who already have a large following. The little artists, I don’t really understand because they have to pay for the privilege [of minting NFTs]. There is no guarantee that they will get this money back. So they keep spamming other artists and all of their followers. They keep connecting to Discords and it seems like it’s consuming their entire internet personality. When I tweeted that I didn’t want to do NFT, some people pointed out to me that if I had done NFT, I should constantly talk about it and engage with them. And these people would basically be my new audience. Considering how toxic communities are, I wouldn’t like that.

Folktales of Lunaria ended up making their NFT sales, and the first set broke $ 1 million in sales. Although lower than Choi’s initial estimates, Castpixel’s stake would have been $ 200,000.

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