A hot potato: Given the constant backlash against companies trying to merge the worlds of blockchain/NFTs and video games, the area might not hold as much appeal as it once did. But FTX seems to disagree; the crypto exchange is launching its own gaming unit to encourage game publishers to dive into cryptocurrencies, blockchain networks, and non-fungible tokens.
Bloomberg reports that FTX Gaming will be a “crypto-as-a-service” platform that game companies can use to launch tokens and for supporting NFTs in games. It began hiring its fully remote team earlier this month, targeting software engineers with Unity experience.
“We are launching FTX Gaming because we see games as an exciting use case for crypto,” an FTX spokesperson told Bloomberg via email. “There are 2 billion+ gamers in the world who have played with and collected digital items, and can now also own them.”
The news comes after FTX last year announced a $100 million investment with two partners to push the integration of the Solana blockchain into video games.
To say that most gamers are against NFTs in games is an understatement. There has been plenty of outcry against the likes of Ubisoft, Square Enix, and the Stalker 2 devs over their plans to add them to titles—the latter abandoned its NFT ambitions over the outcry. We’ve also seen voice artist Troy Baker and Team 17 drop out of projects due to the backlash.
But some firms aren’t put off by the public’s response. Ubisoft, for example, is still adopting the “No, it’s the children who are wrong” stance by claiming gamers “just don’t get it,” and GameStop is opening an NFT marketplace.
Brett Harrison, president of FTX US, gave his view to The Verge.
“I think the backlash is primarily out of concern that the focus on cryptocurrency will divert the efforts of game studios away from making the best game possible for the players,” he said. “We believe that blockchain technology takes features of games that already exist, such as in-game avatars, skins, and rewards, and makes it possible for players to own, invest, and trade these items outside of the game. But the enjoyability of the game for all players, including those who don’t wish to participate in these kind of economies, should always be the primary objective regardless of whether blockchain tech is involved.”
Using the “it’s for the players” excuse is one that’s been rolled out plenty of times before—it was also given as justification for loot boxes—but it’s hard to believe, especially when so few people are asking for NFTs in games and the companies behind them are set to make a fortune from the transactions.