Ubisoft takes a step back with NFTs

The future of Quartz, Ubioft’s platform that brings to market the first eco-friendly and playable NFTs in AAA games based on the Tezos blockchain, is uncertain.

Yves Guillemot, CEO of the French publishing house Ubisoftannounces that it wants to take the time with NFT after the misadventures of Quartz and his numbers. The goal now is to study the fintech market as a whole to identify key trends:

We’re looking at all the new technologies and we’re very focused on the cloud, next-gen voxel, and we’re also looking at all the web 3.0 related capabilities. We recently tested some elements that give us more information about how to use them and what to do in the video game universe. So we’re on the proving ground with a few games that… we’ll see if they really meet the needs of gamers, and then they’ll hit the market. But we’re still in research mode, I’d say.

Ubisoft’s foray into the blockchain, a regrettable misstep for Yves Guillemot

Yves Guillemot understands the poor feedback following Quartz’s announcement to sell Ghost Recon Breakpoint weapon and gear skins in the form of NFTs called Digits:

We probably didn’t know we were doing research. We should have said we’re working on it, and if we have something that’s really helpful to you, we’ll present it to you. Our company experimented with VR very early on, we were one of the first on Nintendo 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 thanks to less competition and the attraction to the most curious players of technological innovations.

Environment and NFT, a non-issue for Ubisoft

One of the main points of contention with this new technology is, of course, its environmental impact, which goes against Ubisoft’s efforts to encourage sustainable development. The company has organized events to raise awareness about the climate crisis within Riders Republic (including a digital protest march against climate change), executive bonuses have been linked to reducing the publisher’s carbon footprint, and Guillemot’s speech in Paris mentions that 95% of the electricity supplied to I3D – the server company acquired by Ubisoft in 2018 – comes from renewable sources (and the heat produced by its server farms is channeled to heat neighboring buildings).

Exploring doesn’t mean throwing. This industry is changing fast and you have to be very careful about the impact it will have. Like so many things, it’s not as good as it could be in the beginning, but like other new technologies, they will find their way.

A Ubisoft spokesperson added that decentralized technologies are no exception to the company’s commitment to the environment, noting that the Strategic Innovation Lab leading its blockchain research is working with the team responsible for corporate social responsibility at everything it does. The latter added that high power consumption is mainly a problem for first-generation blockchains based on the “proof of work” protocol, while Ubisoft focuses on working with “proof of stake” blockchains, less energy hungry.

Ubisoft Quartz, our first large-scale experiment with this technology, is based on the Tezos “proof-of-stake” blockchain, which uses less energy per transaction than sending emails. A standard email equals 4g Co², while a transaction on Tezos equals 2.5g Co².

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