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  • Lawrence Ng

EA CEO Downplays NFTs After Calling Them an Important Part of Video Game Industry

Despite claiming that Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) will be an important part of the video game industry in the future, it seems like implementing it in video games may not be in Electronic Arts' (EA) immediate future.

Credit: Christian Petersen | Getty Images

In the company's Q3 2022 earnings call, EA CEO Andrew Wilson said that NFTs and play-to-earn mechanics in video games are "not something we're driving hard on" when asked if these technologies would make an appearance in future video games.

Wilson argued that although NFTS are collectable in that they're high-quality content, scarce, authentic and that a group of people find value in them, he wants to have EA deliver the best possible experience to players while evaluating NFTS over time.

"Whether [collectivity's] part of the NFT and the blockchain? Well, that remains to be seen," Wilson said. "And I think the way we think about it is we want to deliver the best possible player experience we can."

Despite this, The New York Times report that EA and FIFA have disagreed over some things as part of their agreement to renew EA's FIFA license. One of the subjects allegedly discussed were the addition of NFTs into future FIFA games - an addition that was previously hinted at for FIFA 22.

Credit: Team17 | Reality Gaming Group

The recent announcements of various game developers regarding the use of NFTs in their future games have been a sensitive topic for gamers globally due to their potential for scams, monetisation concerns in the game they're attached to and NFTs' impact on the industry itself. The backlash against this new trend in the video gaming industry was huge enough that game publisher and developer Team17 scrapped their NFT-generating project, MetaWorms NFT, after listening to the concerns of "Teamsters, development partners and [the company's] games' communities".

Other game developers and publishers such as Square Enix, Sega and Nintendo have also expressed their interest in getting into the NFT space. However, Ubisoft took their interest one step further and integrated NFTs into their game, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Breakpoint, becoming the first game developer and publisher to do so. This integration was done through Ubisoft Quartz, a platform that had its beta launched in December 2021 for players to acquire and sell in-game NFTs.

This Wolf Enhanced Helmet A helmet once required players to play 600 hours of Ghost Recon Breakpoint to acquire. Credit: Ubisoft

However, gamers' reception to NFTs being added into the game was negative due to the time needed to unlock just one free in-game item that doubles as an NFT and the high asking prices for the NFTs once Ubisoft stopped giving them for free. According to Kotaku's Mike Fahey, several of Ubisoft's NFTs came with price tags as high as US$400,000 in digital currency. Additionally, authorised resellers showed that only a few NFT sales occurred in December 2021, with just 15 of them being sold for a total of US$380.

The reason behind the NFT trend in gaming may be due to their lifespan. According to Forbes' Justin Birnbaum and PolyientX Head of Product, Nick Casares, the idea of players having control of NFTs even after the game associated with them has already been shelved and the "play-to-earn" model NFTs provide are the driving forces behind the NFT trend.

However, Casares says that the rules for NFT or blockchain games, in general, are still being written despite a handful of NFT games like Sky Mavis' Axie Infinity already spearheading the trend.

  • Despite previously saying NFTs are the future of the video game industry, EA CEO Andrew Wilson claimed that NFTs are not something he wants the company to drive hard on during EA's Q3 2022 earnings call. He wants the company to deliver the best possible experience to players while evaluating NFTS over time.

  • NFTs aren't well-received by gamers because of the potential for scams, monetisation concerns with the game they came with and NFTs' impact on the industry itself.

  • A handful of game developers such as Nintendo, Sega and Square Enix have shown interest in adding NFTs into games. However, the first game developer to add NFTs into their games was Ubisoft, despite the unpopularity of their attempt.

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