Why everything about video game NFTs is a lie – Reader’s Feature – Metro.co.uk

Why everything about video game NFTs is a lie – Reader’s Feature – Metro.co.uk

A reader busts some myths about NFTs in video games, including the idea that you can move them from one game to another.
So the NFT hype continues to roll on, with more and more publishers insisting on supporting them despite protests from fans. Joseph Dowland gave a good overview of what NFTs are in a recent feature; I won’t be repeating that here, instead I want to take a look at some of the claims made by publishers and NFT evangelists about how they are supposed to improve gaming.
There are a number of claims about what NFTs are supposed to bring to games that use them, but beyond the inherent wastefulness of blockchains in general the main objections tend to fall into three categories:

Unique items for everyone
This certainly sounds cool: your character, or weapon, or whatever the NFT represents belongs entirely to you and no one else has one quite like it. The obvious problem however is who makes these assets? Building a 3D character model usually takes about 30-50 hours, more for something important, so if you expect developers to make a totally distinctive character for every player then development time will have to be extended by a few millennia.
There are shortcuts of course, Ubisoft’s solution was to make all the items identical except for a meaningless ID number which you can’t even read in gameplay. Alternatively, maybe they could use procedural generation to give you something akin to one of the billions of guns from a Borderlands game, or one of those slightly different ugly ape pictures that every crypto fan has as a Twitter avatar.
This is less boring than the Ubisoft units at least, but hardly the game changer it gets hyped up as (and of course nothing in this requires blockchain). They also need to be very careful about balance – your random weapon is a pistol that does 2HP damage, your opponent has a huge minigun with homing missiles on secondary fire, enjoy!
You can sell your items
Blizzard tried this with a real-money auction house in Diablo 3 and it went so badly it had to be patched out. The message boards were filled with people trying to sell their loot to the point where they were drowning out anything else; people were forced into tedious grinding to get stuff to sell and for the people who weren’t trying to make a living off it the game effectively lost its main incentive to keep playing in the endgame.
Online games in general tend to have rules against selling your account and while mostly this is because the publishers don’t make money from it, it also tends to upset the balance of the game, which is bad for players.
Even if the game goes offline, you still keep your items
Even ignoring why you want items for a game you can’t play, this just isn’t true. The NFT is not the in-game item itself but rather a link to that item on a server somewhere. That server is owned either by the publisher, the console manufacturer, or more likely rented off a third party such as Amazon or Google. Either way it costs money, and no publisher is going to keep paying indefinitely at no benefit to themselves.
Move items from one game to another
This is the big one. It sounds so exciting, but it also makes it very clear that the person you’re talking to has no idea how game development works on a design, technical, or legal level.
Put simply, you can’t drag and drop assets from one game to another. There’s a whole community of modders converting weapons and armour from Fallout 3 to Fallout: New Vegas – that’s two games in the same series, using the same engine, the same graphical style, the same basic gameplay mechanics, no doubt a lot of reused code, and it’s still a lot of work. When you are dealing with games from different series in different engines, with different art and play styles you basically have to rebuild everything from scratch each time.
Even beyond the technical issues moving stuff from game to game just doesn’t make sense in most cases. Imagine Ubisoft made Units transferrable between all their games – that military hardware makes sense in Ghost Recon, and maybe other Tom Clancy games too, but when the ninth-century Viking in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla starts wielding an assault rifle it gets a bit silly, not to mention something like Rayman.
But the NFT evangelists don’t just talk about trading assets between games from one publisher, they say you’ll be able to put them in any game you want, and even with a perfect technical solution that would still be out of the question.
Suppose you buy a skin in Fortnite and want to use the same skin in Call Of Duty, what is in it for Epic to let people use their copyrighted designs in a rival game? What is in it for Activision to go through all the work of importing the skin if they’re not the ones getting paid? If the skin is a licensed character then the company that owns it also needs to agree to its use in any other games, which is going to involve a lot of legal discussions.
By reader TGN Professor
Email gamecentral@metro.co.uk, leave a comment below, and follow us on Twitter.
MORE : What is an NFT? Everything you need to know about the digital investment craze
MORE : Why NFTs are bad for gaming and everything else – Reader’s Feature
MORE : Konami sells Castlevania NFT map for £19,000 – get it for free by right-clicking
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