Ubisoft NFT Smart Collectibles are the latest craze from the boardroom table!
In a move that many are considering a new low for the company, Ubisoft has taken a surprising and controversial turn into the realm of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). This decision comes in the wake of my previous reports highlighting the company's recent layoffs of customer service employees and their notorious overpricing for proprietary gaming services.
Non-Fungible Tokens, or NFTs, are unique, non-interchangeable units of data stored on a blockchain, which is a type of digital ledger. They enable users to buy and sell digital products, such as in-game items or artwork. Integral Reality Labs, the creators of Assassin’s Creed Smart Collectibles, are employing NFTs as 'digital souls' that represent characters from the popular Assassin’s Creed series.
Each 'digital soul' will boast "rare and unique outfits and weapons", and once purchased using the Polygon blockchain for transactions, players can customize their character before ordering a 3D-printed physical version encased in a glass cube. This cube includes a chip that can be scanned, authenticated, and interact with a companion app. Kind of similar to how Amiibo functions, except the cube would house a unique digital code.
Integral Reality Labs is also planning to sell 1500 'Pieces of Eden Passes'. These passes offer buyers "access to exclusive drops, a unique limited edition digital soul, and a preferential queue jump for having their physical Smart Collectible printed". The exact price of these NFTs and the Pieces of Eden Passes remains undisclosed at the time of writing.
NFTs have been a contentious topic due to their high carbon footprint and what many perceive as their cynical implementation (read: Corporate Greed). Ubisoft, however, remains undeterred by the controversy. In December 2021 (and somehow still in beta to this day), Ubisoft announced Quartz, touted as "the first platform for playable and energy-efficient NFTs in AAA games". Despite the heavy criticism, a Ubisoft executive declared in January that the company would continue its NFT plans, controversially asserting that players just "don’t get it".
Ubisoft is not the only company venturing into the NFT space. Square Enix, another major publisher, has recently launched an NFT-based game, Symbiogenesis, which it describes as “narrative-unlocked NFT entertainment”. The company claims that the game represents "a completely new form of NFT-based entertainment, where 10,000 collectible artworks meet real game utility". In my best Dr. Evil voice: "RIIIIIGHT".
It's clear that Ubisoft's venture into NFTs is a desperate bid to recoup losses and regain some measure of relevance in the gaming industry. But with NFTs being viewed with widespread skepticism and concern, it is uncertain whether this move will shore up the gaming behemoth's flailing fortunes or further alienate its dwindling customer base. As always, the future will tell.