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Ubisoft want to be "key players" in blockchain gaming

Yet another reason not to play their games

a graphic of ubisoft plus, the company's game subscription service, showing the games available
Image credit: Ubisoft

Not content with pivoting to free-to-play games that their audience doesn't want, Ubisoft also want to be one of the "key players" in blockchain gaming according to CEO Yves Guillemot.

Guillemot made the comments during Ubisoft's Q2 earnings call, starting around the 18 minute mark.

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"This industry is changing regularly with lotsof new revolutions happening, and we consider blockchain as one of those revolutions," said Guillemot. "It will imply more play-to-earn that will enable more players to actually earn content, own content, and we think it's going to grow the industry quite a lot. So we have been working with lots of small companies going on blockchain and we're starting to have a good know-how on how it can impact the industry, and we want to be one of the key players here."

Earlier this month, Ubisoft invested in Animoca Brands, a company that makes "branded blockchain games", including several licensed racing games, as well as open-world sandbox game The Sandbox. All of these games feature NFT in-game items.

Blockchain, cryptocurrency and NFTs have been heavily criticised for their gross environmental impact. Guillemot didn't address that, although Ubisoft's earnings report does allude to it.

"Ubisoft has been exploring blockchain since the early development of the technology, supporting and learning from the ecosystem through initiatives like its Entrepreneurs Lab start-up program and the Blockchain Game Alliance as a founding member," says the report. "It also gives Ubisoft the perspective to reflect on the best ways to overcome blockchain’s initial limitations for gaming around sustainability and scalability."

The Blockchain Game Alliance were one of the signatories of the open letter released last week asking Valve to unban blockchain-based games from Steam.

Large companies invest in and dabble with all sorts of new technologies that may never emerge in their actual products. Perhaps I won't ever earn some STAB coins for silently taking down every goon in a Far Cry outpost, and their experiments will go no further than last year's Rabbids tokens for charity. Perhaps they will pull back, just as the free-to-play Ghost Recon Frontline was indefinitely delayed shortly before its closed beta test.

But probably not, because blockchain's inclusion in an investor call is an indication that Ubisoft's investors are keen on the potential profits of selling digital nonsense.

Meanwhile, Ubisoft employee group A Better Ubisoft have criticised the company's "weak response" to abuse allegations, saying the publisher has done very little to address employee demands in the past 16 months.

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