Ubisoft cools off on NFTs and blockchain, says it’s in ‘research mode’



Yves Guillemot, the CEO of French gaming giant Ubisoft, appears to have cooled the rhetoric behind the company’s nonfungible token (NFT) gaming project Quartz, noting in a recent interview that it was merely in “research mode” concerning Web3 tech integrations.

It’s a relatively different take from other Ubisoft execs in the past, including chief financial officer Frédérick Duguet who in October stated that blockchain integrations will enable users to own and earn content and the firm wants to “be one of the key players here.”

During a Saturday interview with gamesindustry.biz, Guillemot appears to be walking some of those comments back, emphasizing that at this stage, Ubisoft is primarily looking to discover how NFTs can be applied to games and whether they will benefit gamers or not.

“We are very much on cloud, on the new generation of voxels, and we’re looking at all the Web3 capabilities. We tested a few things recently that are giving us more information on how it can be used and what we should do in the universe of video games,” he said, adding that:

“So we are testing ground with some games, and we’ll see if they really answer the players’ needs. But we are still in research mode, I would say.”

Ubisoft announced its first foray into NFTs in December after launching a beta version of Ubisoft Quartz, aimed at offering gamers playable NFTs that could be utilized in games such as Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint.

The move was met with strong pushback from some members of the NFT-hating gamer community, with some accusing the firm of “milking” every cent possible out of its popular game franchises by introducing NFTs into the mix.

Nicolas Pouard, the vice president at Ubisoft’s Strategic Innovations Lab, defended the company’s NFT efforts in January, stating: “I think gamers don’t get what a digital secondary market can bring to them.”

Reflecting on Ubisoft’s NFT rollout, Guillemot says the firm ultimately didn’t communicate the company’s approach to the project effectively enough.

“We probably were not good at saying we are researching,” he said, adding that “we should have said we were working on it, and when we have something that gives you a real benefit, we’ll bring it to you.”

Related: GameFi fundraising jumps 135% in August, but is still down from June: Report

The Ubisoft CEO was also questioned about the environmental impacts of blockchain tech, something which is often highlighted by gamers who generally confuse energy-intensive proof-of-work (PoW) chains as the industry standard for all projects.

Guillemot noted that while he’s “very cautious” about the environmental impacts of the sector, he’s optimistic that these issues will be ironed out over time:

“Like so many things, at the beginning it’s not as good as it could be, but like other new technologies they will find the right way.”


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