Well, those mad bastards did it. Ubisoft is not alone among the big publishers in having declared an interest in Non-Fungible Tokens, but now it is the first to launch its take on the most irritating digital trend of the moment. Ubisoft Quartz now has an announcement trailer, an official site, and my eternal scorn.
The first game they'll be featured in is Ghost Recon: Breakpoint and, well, basically the NFTs are hats with tiny numbers on them. Or bits of armour. These are cosmetic items released in 'limited editions' which are then, so Ubisoft says, made 'unique' by the number. Look at the way the camera zooms in on that tiny number on the helmet: Why are these things always such a parody of themselves?
There are also digits? I'm not even really sure what a digit is.
The language around this thing is tailor-made to raise your hackles: "Be Unique. Control. Play. The Beta of Ubisoft Quartz, the first playable NFTs designed by the Ubisoft Strategic Innovation lab, is coming to Ghost Recon Breakpoint!" I suppose it's technically true that numbering items makes them unique, but this does seem like a rather weak pitch: 'limited edition' cosmetics.
It's a bit weird: Selling an NFT that can be used in a single game is a bit like selling one glove. The strange thing is that Ubisoft would be in a position to deliver on the so-called promise of NFTs by creating, say, a beanie hat that you could wear in Assassin's Creed and Breakpoint and Riders Republic and For Honor. But that's not what's happening here: yet.
Ubisoft only announced this was coming in November, and it's part of a wider trend among big tech companies toying with the idea of NFTs, not all of whom are sold on them. EA is: it called NFTs 'the future of our industry'. But Xbox boss Phil Spencer's worried they might be 'exploitative', Discord teased their integration then swiftly u-turned after major backlash, while Steam's just decided to ban them altogether. If you ask me, the only good thing about NFTs is the endless line of funny scam stories.
Going by the official site, Ubisoft Quartz is not yet available for sale. But it will be soon enough, and the gates of hell will open: Triumphant crypto-bros are coming to your Discords, to your forums, to every part of the gaming world you like. And they're gonna stick this crap into every single game they can. Today Ubisoft: Tomorrow, sadly, the world.