(Image credit: Seth Green)
The internet is a maelstrom of talking—even brief exposure is liable to make you wish everyone would just shut up—but does any of it matter? Does the chorus of social media critics actually do anything? This is the internet’s greatest insecurity. Self-conscious social media users diagnose each other with poster’s disease (opens in new tab) and sarcastically cheer “we did it, Reddit” to express that, no, posting on the internet didn’t save the day.
Are publishers backing away from NFTs because they don’t see value in them, or because they get ruthlessly mocked online every time they talk about them?
Internet mobs have certainly caused some things, though, for better and worse. The anger around loot boxes was at least somewhat responsible for gaining the attention of politicians, leading to the ongoing decline of the practice today. We got them to change ugly movie Sonic into boring movie Sonic. I wonder also where the absence of an internet mob been felt: Had CS:GO keys and the Steam Community Market been met with the kind of resistance Valve saw when it tried to add paid mods to Steam, how would things be different today?
That brings me to the question I want to pose here: Are game publishers backing away from NFTs because they don’t see value in them, or because they get ruthlessly mocked and harangued online every time they talk about them?
As an example, in late 2021, Discord CEO Jason Citron teased NFT integration for the chat app, and thousands of people replied to say “no thanks” in a range of less-polite tones; the most-shared responses suggested canceling Discord Nitro subscriptions. Two days and thousands of comments later, Citron said that the screenshot was just an “internal concept” that the company had no plans to implement, and that he’d share more soon. He has yet to share more, although perhaps he’s just biding his time.
Stalker studio GSC Game World, Worms developer Team17, and voice actor Troy Baker also walked back involvement with NFT projects after being yelled at online. After suggesting that NFTs are “the future” of gaming in 2021, EA CEO Andrew Wilson later clarified (after a great deal of internet shit talking) that he was just talking about collectability in general. Back in April, Blizzard president Mike Ybarra said that “no one is doing NFTs” at the studio in response to an Activision Blizzard survey designed to gauge public interest in them—I’m guessing the company got its answer.
Ubisoft is one of the few big companies that actually made it to execution. Undeterred by comments such as (opens in new tab) “this remains the stupidest and most pointless thing in the god damn world,” the publisher gave non-fungible goodies a brief try in Ghost Recon Breakpoint. Today, those NFTs are worthless, Breakpoint isn’t being updated anymore, and Ubisoft now says it …….