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Developers still not sure NFTs will matter in games

A recent study related to development trends in video games shows that skepticism continues to exist around NFTs. Speaking to software developer Perforce about technologies that could affect game development, a majority of developers remain skeptical that non-fungible tokens can provide any benefit to the industry. 

Of the 300 developers surveyed by Perforce, 49 percent said that NFTs would have either a minimal impact on games, or no impact entirely. 

NFTs have been deeply controversial since they were first announced. Though companies like Square Enix and Sega have shown clear interest in the technology, developers largely don’t seem to share that sentiment. Game Developers Conference released a report in January which found that 72 percent of companies had no interest at all in cryptocurrency, and 70 percent had no interest in NFTs.

Perforce chief technology officer Brad Hart told Game Developer that this data is fueled by the fact that game developers can already implement the most commonly-used use cases of NFTs without using blockchain technology. “It is similar to any blockchain project that tries to have relevance just because it is ‘blockchain,’ he commented. 

“Unless it solves a unique problem innovatively, NFTs are of minimal merit in the real world.”

One anonymous developer told Perforce that NFTs continue to seem like a “grift.” Another argued that the technology is effectively rendered useless, as a centralized database can already do what NFTs purport to do.

“If Microsoft wants people to buy a Master Chief helmet in Halo and use it in Call of Duty, they need only tie it to a player’s Xbox or Game Pass account; they have no need to involve the blockchain,” wrote the developer. They added that after the “gold rush” of NFTs comes to an end, they’ll become digital collectibles. “A niche item for a niche market.”

Last month, Mojang went so far as to ban NFTs and blockchain entirely from Minecraft. The developer wrote that the use of NFTs and blockchain technology “creates digital ownership based on scarcity and exclusion, which does not align with Minecraft values of creative inclusion and playing together.”

The stigma around NFTs has become so strong that PlayStation’s recent loyalty program that rewards players “digital collectibles” went out of its way to stress that said collectibles are not blockchain-adjacent.

What’s all this new tech in aid for? Developers aren’t sure 

Discussion about NFTs tends to lead to talking about the metaverse, and developers are simultaneously unsure about that. Perforce’s study showed that 37 percent of developers are convinced the metaverse will make an impact. 39 percent think there’ll be very little to come of metaverse-style digital worlds, if anything. 

Should the metaverse come to fruition the way that so many are hoping for, one developer thinks it’ll just amount to “a bunch of new short-lived, low-quality
games. But any good things enabled by the ‘metaverse’ have already been done in older games.”

That data shows that while developers aren’t entirely enthusiastic about the idea of the metaverse, they’re at least less hostile to it than they are NFTs. Hart reckons that’s because the metaverse “promises an experience and technology more in line with what games try to provide.”

“Game development is all about immersive, entertaining experiences and the metaverse hopes to take that to the next level,” he added. “There is still some skepticism about whether the metaverse will provide that level of experience, but at least the vision is in line with the gaming community.”

Conversely, developers have a more positive perception of virtual and augmented reality. 79 percent of respondents said AR and VR will be important to games by 2025. 

Speaking specifically about VR, developer Elijah McElwian expressed belief that within a decade, the technology will grow to eclipse games. “[VR] will stretch beyond the limits of reality, not just a virtual one,” he said. “It will bring us to a whole new world and create new
aspects of life.”

But first, both VR and AR have to be more accessible to larger audiences instead of being a luxury item. One proponent of AR thinks that for AR to get big, the technology be there to support it first. And that, said the developer, will require AR having to “bleed over” into other industries. 

Game Developer and GDC are sibling organizations under Informa Tech.

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