Over the past year, NFTs have been growing in popularity. The non-fungible tokens have been viewed as a way to have exclusive ownership of, or access to, different media and have even given streamers like Mizkif big money sponsorship opportunities. While the premise behind NFTs might feel like the natural evolution for cybersecurity and being able to circumvent piracy when it comes to individual works of art, they aren’t necessarily the perfect answer.
The data for individual NFTs varies, as unlike cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, each NFT can have its own value. This looks like a win for a market like video games, where individual games, bonus content, and other related digital items could be given values and tracked, but it could easily do more harm than good. NFTs are reliant on blockchain, and like other uses of the technique, are extremely resource-intensive. They draw heavily on not only natural resources, needing a lot of energy to function, but also material resources like graphics cards that are already in short supply.
Problems With NFTs in Games
Adopting NFTs on a large scale in the video game industry could be a step backward that does a lot of harm both socially and to the environment. As fun as video games are, they already require fans to use a lot of energy to run. Every format, from PC to the Nintendo Switch, requires some form of electrical power, and the addition of NFT video games could drastically increase the amount of power already used by the industry as a whole. This makes recent comments on NFT games from Xbox’s Phil Spencer a little reassuring, but not too much.
While the technology does seem to be evolving, with its current phase being very speculative, that doesn’t mean there aren’t those willing to adopt it. Even though titans of industry like Xbox or PlayStation might not have come around to them yet, there’s still a potential for NFTs and other cryptocurrencies to become a premier option. Dead by Daylight has been criticized for selling NFTs, and if more popular games follow suit, it could quickly become a situation that gets out of hand. This could result in video games being vilified, as people use an entertainment source that seems to be contributing to climate change and having a negative overall impact on the environment.
On top of this, the sporadic nature of NFTs could be harmful to how the industry itself operates. Video games generally sell at similar price points with different editions being priced differently. Even smaller games and indie titles tend to share the same $15 to $30 range, depending on the amount of content in the game. Introducing NFTs as a more prominent secondary-market option could disrupt this, and result in wild prices that feel more exploitative of people and art than they are representative of building a community around games. This is something that some may have already seen happen with the NFT game Epic Hero Battles.
Using a system that is often discussed as a way to prevent art or IP theft it appears the game may have done just that. While this is something that might not negatively affect larger titles and studios, it could hurt smaller teams that could fall victim to similar practices. So, while Neopet NFTs might not be in danger of having their art stolen, smaller creators could still find that their original characters are being used for online marketplaces they may not be associated with.
Fortunately, the somewhat silver lining to NFTs’ current relationship with video games is how major names do seem to be trying to avoid them. A step further than Phil Spencer’s comments on them is the Steam ban on games featuring cryptocurrencies and NFTs. While some do view these as the future of video games, they can come with a lot of baggage: NFTs can have a negative impact on the planet’s environment and still hold their real-world value, despite the digital nature of cryptocurrencies. The steps to avoid NFTs might be seen as extreme in the future, but until the impacts of them aren’t as detrimental it looks like a step in the right direction.
The hype over controversial NFTs has expanded to the world of gaming resulting in items sold for massive amounts of cryptocurrency.
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