It’s now official, the NFTs (non fungible token) or in French the JNF for non fungible tokens will make their arrival in video games. After Ubisoft a few days ago, here is GSC Game World announcing that its next game STALKER 2: Heart of Chernobyl will offer NFT content .
I hear many ask: “Is this a good thing? » Or better yet: “What does an NFT eat in winter? »
Well, I propose to explain to you what an NFT is and what I think of this addition in video games. Little hint, it won’t be positive!
NFTs, bitcoin’s little brother
Let’s start by explaining NFTs. Imagine you like a photo on the internet and you want to buy it. In real life, it’s simple, just buy the rights and you’re done.
NFTs work much the same way. You are buying the rights to a digital product whether audio, visual or in a video game. Some sell digital photos, others GIFs and even Tweets. But how can one own a GIF? This is where it gets a bit tricky.
You are buying the product that is listed on the blockchain or Ethereum blockchain. Ethereum is the name of a blockchain but there are several others. Imagine it’s a big database containing all the NFTs and who their owners are.
For those who are not very familiar with blockchain, it is a data storage technology that allows shared encrypted databases without central control. Mix? This is not really surprising since it is a complex subject.
Let’s go with the simplified example of a bank. It too uses databases that are copied in several places to ensure that nothing is lost in the event of a disaster. Logical and quite simple.
The blockchain takes this basic idea but rather than using its own servers, it is internet users around the world who lend their computers to host the database. These, typically called miners, are then rewarded for lending their computer. This title is given to them because mining in real life is painful and time consuming. A bit like my explanation I am aware of it. We’ll be back to NFT soon, I promise.
As the database is encrypted, it is impossible to read its contents but there is a register which contains all the transactions of the database. Many people like this type of technology because it is not controlled or governed by any government and it is possible (theoretically) to make money with the blockchain by mining. Obviously it also means that criminals can also use it to launder money, but that’s another subject.
Mining is not easy because it is quite expensive and you will need to get a computer with a powerful graphics card. Worse still, it’s particularly bad for the environment because it consumes a lot of energy since your computer will have to run at full speed most of the time.
Let’s get back to our NFTs sheep if you’re not already asleep.
NFTs use the same blockchain technology which uses a ledger to record all transactions. How much does an NFT cost? It depends a lot. Want to buy the Nyan Cat GIF? Well it just sold for $560,000 so get your wallet out. Of course, not all NFTs are that expensive. It can be from a few tens of dollars to thousands depending on the interest.
“So Christian, if I own the Nyan Cat GIF, can I claim money from everyone who uses it on the internet? »
Unfortunately no. You see, it’s that you own the first copy of the Nyan Cat GIF, but you don’t really have the rights. People can keep making copies like the Mona Lisa. It’s just that you have the “honor” to have the initial copy!
All that for this?
Yes. That’s kind of the problem. The arrival of NFTs in video games is just another way for developers to make more money for their games. Despite all that, I think it’s important to put things into perspective when it comes to the cost of video games.
People complain that they are more and more expensive and it is not completely false relatively speaking. However, they forget that NES games were $60 when they first came out. This same amount in 2021 would be around $150! Moreover, games cost more and more to develop for more and more complex games. It is therefore not surprising that we see more and more microtransactions or even a movement towards NFTs.
So we come to the question: “Do we like or dislike NFTs in video games?”
I don’t think that’s a good thing, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing either. For me, as long as microtransactions don’t provide some benefit to players, I don’t care. That someone wants to spend $1,000 to get all the skins for a game without having to unlock them doesn’t change anything for me. The NFTs will therefore be similar.
You will have the chance to buy a unique piece of music or an image of an important scene from the game. I see absolutely no point in this, but who am I to prevent people from spending their money as they see fit ?
Of course we have to make sure that the children cannot buy it without the parents’ permission, but again it is the responsibility of the parent. You should never let your child use your credit card without your permission or even leave an online service account without a password.
I really have the impression that NFTs will do like 3D in cinemas. Many people try to make us believe that it’s an unavoidable revolution when it’s simply an inconvenience that will bite the dust and end up in the graveyard of bad ideas.
Only time will tell.