Mojang, creator of Minecrafttake a final position against non-fungible tokens (NFTs) earlier this week, saying he had “no plans to implement blockchain technology in Minecraft at present.”
It’s an approach that runs counter to what many video game makers have taken in recent months, sometimes despite player protests. And that might be just the excuse a number of fence keepers need to dodge the issue entirely.
Of course, Mojang isn’t just any developer. Minecraft is one of the biggest games in the industry. The developer is also owned by Microsoft, which further sends the message that when it comes to that company’s gaming division, NFTs aren’t viewed very favorably.
In its statement, Mojang said it would not support NFTs because they “do not include our entire community and create a haves and have-nots scenario.” That’s not too far off from statements Xbox chief Phil Spencer has made about the technology in the past.
“What I would say today about NFTs, all things considered, is that I think there’s a lot of speculation and experimentation going on, and some of the creation that I see today is feel more exploitative than on entertainment”, spencer said Axios. “I think anything that we looked at in our storefront that we called exploitative would be something we would take action on. We don’t want that kind of content.
He is not alone. Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft said NFTs are “100% based on the bigger fool theory”, a bubble in which overvalued assets continue to be sold at even higher prices to a “bigger fool”.
The players have been pretty clear when it comes to expressing their thoughts on NFTs in games. A vocal contingent believes this is just the latest way for publishers to nickel and dime them into paying more to enjoy a title — an extension of microtransactions, loot boxes, and other monetized practices that make now part of the modern gaming landscape.
That hasn’t stopped some big publishers from looking into them. Ubisoft, for its part, has embraced NFTs; one publisher executive once ruffled some feathers when he said fans “don’t understand what a digital secondary market can do for them.”
And while Take-Two Interactive Software has yet to incorporate them into its games portfolio due to the speculative nature of NFTs, CEO Strauss Zelnick says he doesn’t expect the company to ignore them forever. .
“We are in the entertainment business” he says. “When there’s a reset and NFTs take their place in the entertainment economy, that’s when they become really interesting for what we do.”
Ironically, on paper, NFTs seem fine for video games. They are collectibles and can, in games like Axle infinity, be used to fight other players. They can also be used to generate real financial returns that reward the most skilled players.
The technology, however, has not proven to be particularly secure. Axle infinity saw the pirates steal around $625 million worth of cryptocurrency of the network used to process transactions, rendering players’ investments largely useless.
And the NFTs themselves are barely the hot element they used to be, especially after the recent crypto crash. A study by NonFungible found that in the first quarter of 2022, gaming-related NFTs had a $50 million total lossmaking it the least profitable segment of the entire NFT industry from a business perspective.
That said, Mojang did not reject NFTs with any finality. The company may avoid the technology in the immediate future, but it also promised to pay “close attention to how blockchain technology evolves over time. . . determine whether this will enable more secure experiences or other convenient and inclusive applications in games.
In other words, if the current crypto winter is followed by a bountiful crypto spring, some of the gaming world’s biggest NFT skeptics might be willing to rethink their stance.