Earlier this week, Ubisoft and EA's CEOs said they saw NFTs and the blockchain as part of the future of gaming. Now Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick has joined in, telling GamesIndustry.biz that he's "a big believer" in NFTs - albeit with caveats.
"If you believe in collectible physical goods, I don't know why you wouldn't believe in collectible digital goods," Zelnick tells GI. "And blockchain authorization, which is what an NFT really is, is one way -- not the only way -- to authenticate the fact something is singular is rare."
"So I'm a big believer, but what I don't believe is that just because something is digital or an NFT that it suddenly has value and/or has value that will be increased in the future. And I think that's the problem. NFTs, because they're related to the blockchain as currently contemplated and because some have gone for a lot of money, are seen by some as just another opportunity to invest in a speculation that some think will only go up. And speculations don't just go up; they come down too.
"For an NFT to be valuable and durable, it has to be found at the intersection of rarity and quality, of rarity and value. And there's rarity for sure in all NFTs, but I'm not sure there's value."
This is a lot more naunce than the comments made by other CEOs earlier this week. Zelnick acknowledges that there are other ways to authenticate that something is rare, he acknowledges that there's hype around NFTs and that speculations "come down too", and he says he's "not sure there's value."
But he's still ultimately signalling the same thing as the rest: that these technologies are a likely part of Take-Two's future. He states that blockchain is "a very useful technology" that "hasn't found that many uses yet outside of cryptocurrency, but it will."
It's worth remembing that when Ubisoft's Yves Guillemot said that they want to be "key players" in blockchain gaming, and when EA's Andrew Wilson said that NFTs and play-to-earn were "part of the future of our industry", they were talking to investors and analysts. The main purpose of those calls is to assure investors that the companies will do pretty much anything to make more money. For that reason, you're not going to get as much nuance from them as you would were they talking to a journalist, as Zelnick was doing ahead of Take-Two's own earnings call. During that call, NFTs and blockchain were not discussed at all.
For more of Zelnick's thoughts, including his withering opinion of the metaverse, read the full interview on GamesIndustry.biz.