Ubisoft just concluded its Q2 earnings call, a strange event where relatively-okay financial numbers were overshadowed by the company being on the defensive due to delays, workplace allegations, and questions about free-to-play. But one element that seemed to make both Ubisoft and investors happy was the discussion of blockchain.
Ubisoft’s future blockchain ambitions were mentioned both in its earnings release and a few times during the call. As noted in its press release, Ubisoft is funding blockchain gaming company Animoca Brands, which advertises itself on its website as “the global leader in branded blockchain gaming.”
Animoca’s current projects include Revv Motorsport, Revv Racing, and upcoming game Formula E: High Voltage, all of which use the same token called “REVV” to enable players to “own” digital assets and collect NFT in-game items. It also has a game called The Sandbox, a virtual world full of NFTs called “Sand.”
In addition to its funding of Animoca, Ubisoft is a founding member of the Blockchain Game Alliance and has been exploring the technology generally since its early development. CFO Frédérick Duguet specifically called blockchain a “revolution” on the call. It seems like everyone is getting into blockchain these days, but what does this mean for Ubisoft games?
CEO Yves Guillemot confirmed during the call Ubisoft both wanted to invest in companies working with blockchain and organically create its own games, while Duguet indicated elsewhere that we might see it end up in Ubisoft games down the line in some form of new monetization tactic:
“[Blockchain] will enable more play-to-earn that will enable more players to actually earn content, own content, and we think it’s going to grow the industry quite a lot,” Duguet said. “We’ve been working with lots of small companies going on blockchain and we’re starting to have a good know-how on how it can impact the industry, and we want to be one of the key players here.”
Blockchain, NFTs, and everything associated with them have been extremely controversial as they’ve gained mainstream attention in recent years, most notably due to their immense negative environmental impact, but also due to the red-alert-levels of scam inherent in the NFT business as a whole. If you’re still lost as to what NFTs and blockchain are and why they’re upsetting people, The Verge has a great explainer here, while GamesIndustry.biz has published its own industry-focused teardown.
Duguet did attempt to stave off criticisms like this by noting the importance of learning “the impact on environments” and said Ubisoft was still in the early stages of exploration. But it’s entirely feasible we can look to Animoca Brands’ games for a rough idea of what Ubisoft might want to do to integrate blockchain monetization tactics into its franchises such as Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, Watch Dogs, Tom Clancy games, and others in the future.
Rebekah Valentine is a news reporter for IGN. You can find her on Twitter @duckvalentine.