Remember: In late 2021, the company announced it would create a node on the Tezos blockchain, launch its NFT store called Quartz, and add skins of weapons and equipment in the form of NFTs in the game Ghost Recon: Breakpoint. A launch reported in most specialized media, we are also invited to the Saint-Mandé premises to attend a long presentation of the interest of these NFTs, from which we emerge perplexed. If the promise not to harm the environment was fulfilled thanks to the protocol of the proof of commitmenteach transaction on Tezos produces only 2.5 grams of CO2 equivalent (less than an email), it is the player’s interest that still seemed to be clarified.
Above all, Ubisoft launched the blockchain through a two-year-old game, poorly received and little played, as if it just wanted to take a clove to take the temperature and not invest too much money in the adventure. However, the official speech was much more ambitious than that. The press release talked about “the first step in our ambitious vision for the development of a true metaverse.”
Unsurprisingly, the reception from the public is ice cold. After several communications, Nicolas Pouard, head of the innovation strategy laboratory at the origin of the project, announces: “Still believe you can convince the importance of NFTs” and says that “the public has yet to understand the secondary market’s interest in blockchain”. However, Quartz closes a few months after its launch, in April 2022. It must be said that the number of exchanges that have taken place is ridiculous: only 96 successful transactions, according to Ars Technica.
During a press interview, the Ubisoft CEO reneged on half-words about the blockchain foray, which is not even mentioned in full. In response to a question from Eurogamer, Yves Guillemot said:
“We are interested in all technologies. This is the case with the cloud, the next generations of voxels or Web3. We recently tested several things for research and information purposes to determine how we should use them for gaming. So we experiment with a few games and see if it meets the needs of the players. But I would say we are still in the research phase.”
“Our company experimented with VR very early on, we were one of the first on Wii, we’re always trying new things. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but we always want to provide the player with new experiences that are innovative and interesting. Our goal is to create the best possible experience, and new technologies are a very interesting vector for this thanks to less competition and the attraction to the most curious players of technological innovations.”
It’s hard to believe, reading these lines, that Ubisoft has started the blockchain. Yet this is what happened temporarily with Quartz. A predictable failure for the company’s analysts, as Virgile told us in his excellent survey on the use of data in video games. He cites Yanisse (the name has changed), former data analyst from Ubisoft:
“For example, based on social network data, we analyzed the commonly observed positions. We did a little study where we transferred a few things on Reddit summarizing the positions of gamers talking about NFTs, it was very negative. Obviously we wouldn’t have people raising their hands and saying “yeah, give us NFTs in Ghost Recon”. In fact, it’s a study that was done in a bit of a rush because we didn’t have much time to tell Yves Guillemot not to.
His colleague, Marc (whose name has also changed), adds:
“If you know the character of Yves a little, he was thorough. Once it’s bullshit marketing that can make money, it’s gone. So he asks our department if we have any information about NFTs. The director then asks a team leader, who in turn will ask someone from my team, who will start an analysis for her by collecting data from social networks and comparing it with other data. He passes on his analysis to the sports director, who then answers: “Oh no, we can’t say that to Yves”. There you go, end of story.”
At Ubisoft, it seems we are no longer a contradiction.
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