Nobody Is Buying Ubisoft’s Dumb In-Game NFTs
It has been 15 years since The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion got horse armor, and games have never been the same. Almost every release from major publishers like EA and Ubisoft have microtransactions, which can let them print money for years after a game is launched. Now, Ubisoft is taking the next logical (and horrifying) step to integrate cryptographic NFTs in its games. The company started handing out batches of unique NFT gear for Ghost Recon Breakpoint recently, but players aren’t taking to it as Ubisoft probably hoped.
Kotaku reports that almost no one is buying these supposedly valuable digital items. That should give you a little hope for the future of gaming, but it might have more to do with how much people hate Ghost Recon Breakpoint.
An NFT can be any digital item, but in Ghost Recon Breakpoint, they take the form of weapon and gear skins known as Digits. They all look the same, save for a small serial number. You can use them in the game, provided you have enough experience, or you can sell them. At a time when NFTs consisting of a low-resolution JPEG are regularly selling for thousands of dollars, you’d think some NFT game skins would be worth something. And yet, only a handful of sales have gone through, totaling 94.49 Tezos (the crypto used on the Tezos blockchain). That works out to $379.84 at the current exchange rate of 4.02 dollars per Tezos.
The low volume is not due to a lack of supply. Ubisoft has partnered with Rarible.com and Objkt.com to allow players to sell their NFTs, and there are hundreds available for sale right now through the sites. The problem is demand. Ubisoft is probably going to learn from its mistakes here, but I doubt the lesson will be understood as “don’t put NFTs in games.” We already know that gamers will pay money for skins and other cosmetics. If we also accept that there’s demand for NFTs, and the existence of cartoon apes selling for a quarter-million dollars shows that there is, then why does no one want Ubisoft’s crypto-pants?
Maybe this was a way for Ubisoft to dip its toe in NFTs without taking a big risk—the company might have even expected the backlash, which we also saw with an unrelated NFT game announcement. Ghost Recon Breakpoint is not a very popular game these days. It launched in 2019 and required extensive redesigns to address player complaints, relaunching the following year. If you’re going to potentially burn down your game by forcing crypto into it, it should be one that has already stagnated. The NFTs on offer are also extremely lazy. At least the cartoon apes look different, but the only thing unique about the Ghost Recon NFTs is the serial number you’ll never even see.
Make no mistake, Ubisoft doesn’t just give up when there’s this much money at stake. It’s probably already working on ways to integrate NFTs in future games.