Yves Guillemot, Ubisoft's long-reigning CEO, has spoken about the company's future plans for blockchain integration in its games, its history with blockchain tech, and the communications blunders the company has made around the topic in the past.
In an interview with GamesIndustry.biz (opens in new tab), Guillemot made several comments that suggest Ubisoft's love affair with NFTs has reached a cooling-off period. Ubisoft is "looking at all the Web3 capabilities" in order to find out if they "really answer the players' needs" before pressing ahead with them, said Guillemot. I feel like I can tell you the answer to that one right now, Yves.
It all adds up to Ubisoft still being "in research mode" on NFTs in games, according to Guillemot, and it's a far cry from the company's previous bullishness on blockchain integration in videogames. Back in 2021 (opens in new tab), the company defied negative responses from the public and its employees alike to press ahead with its plans to develop "play-to-earn" games that made heavy use of blockchain technology. Those projects bore (some) fruit: Ubisoft's Quartz platform, which let you pick up little NFT-ified hats for your Ghost Recon character before Ubisoft shuttered the shop in April (opens in new tab).
But it looks like the company has finally realised there isn't a silent majority of consumers with a burning passion for artificial scarcity. Less than a year after Ubisoft VP Nicolas Pouard said players "don't get" (opens in new tab) the myriad wonders that NFTs can offer, Guillemot has admitted that the company might have messed up its messaging a bit. Ubisoft was "not good at saying we are researching," he told GI, adding that the company "should have said we were working on it, and when we have something that gives you a real benefit, we'll bring it to you". Better late than never, I suppose.
Ubisoft has faced no end of censure (opens in new tab) and more than a little ridicule for its big talk on NFTs. Between the dubious benefits the tech has for players and the environmental costs of running "proof of work" blockchain systems (to his credit, Guillemot emphasises that Ubisoft's research is focusing on less-disastrous "proof of stake" tech), the company's dauntless advocacy of the technology has been at times surreal. It appears the message has finally broken through, though, at least temporarily. Let's hope Ubisoft remains in its quieter "research mode" for some time to come.