Third-party NFTs in gaming are Web3’s latest unethical twist |  Opinion

Third-party NFTs in gaming are Web3’s latest unethical twist | Opinion

Say what you like about NFTs – and with the market around most of them currently in what could be described as a catastrophic meltdown, everyone else is definitely saying what they want – but technology, in its short and sordid time. in the limelight, he achieved at least one truly remarkable thing.

Never before have I seen a technology inspire gaming companies to rush to announce that they will absolutely not use it; this industry is usually relentlessly neophiliac and willing to give almost any idea that comes off the tech peak, be it good, bad or indifferent, a chance, which makes the growing list of companies that have made public statements distancing themselves from NFTs at an event particularly unusual.

At first glance, the statement from Minecraft creator and Microsoft subsidiary Mojang this week largely belongs in that category. However, it’s a bit more firmly worded than many other companies’ claims, taking the time to make specific arguments against using NFTs in Minecraft rather than briefly reassuring players that there are no plans to implement them, as other companies have. done.

Never before have I seen a technology inspire gaming companies to rush to announce that they will absolutely not use it

Mojang’s statement repeatedly refers to NFTs creating “scarcity and exclusion,” which clashes with the company’s vision for Minecraft, and denounces the shift in focus on speculation and investing as something that detracts from the joy of actually playing. . These are not new topics: it is precisely the criticisms that have been widely leveled at NFT business models and the concept of “pay-to-earn” more generally since they began to be talked about in video game circles.

Mojang’s concern that NFTs introduce a “haves and haves” paradigm that is antithetical to their core gameplay and community principles is well founded and applies equally to games far beyond Minecraft.

Indeed, the “having and not having” paradigm is indeed the central promise of NFTs, whose proponents often breathlessly describe rent-seeking and profit-seeking behaviors in a way that makes it very clear that they see it as a desirable trait. and not like the black hole of entertainment and pleasure it really would be.

There is a very good reason behind Mojang’s decision to make such a strong statement and outline the main arguments against NFT integration so clearly, while other companies have generally avoided such direct involvement in the debate. That’s because Mojang’s statement isn’t actually about their plans for Minecraft – it’s about the company’s intention to crack down on third parties who have built NFTs and NFT markets on the Minecraft platform. This business left Mojang in a nightmare situation in this regard, with NFT being created and integrated into his game despite the company having no plans to do it on its own.

If a company chooses of its own free will to create NFTs based on its own IP or linked to its own games, that’s one thing. Most gaming companies seem to have sworn not to do it completely, or have lost interest in the idea after a failed initial experiment – the obvious exception at the moment is Square Enix, which this week decided to launch some NFTs in half. months later most of the rest of the world decided they were a shit idea. But hey, if a company decides to dip its foot in these stagnant and polluted waters of its own free will, it’s entirely up to them.

It’s a completely different situation when waking up one morning and finding that a third party has created NFT items and an NFT market based on your game, taking advantage of the game’s openness that was designed to encourage modders and content creators, doesn’t serve as ground. fertile for self-styled Web3 entrepreneurs.

Mojang’s concern that NFTs introduce a ‘haves and haves’ paradigm that is antithetical to their core gameplay and community principles is well founded and applies equally to games far beyond Minecraft.

The issue here is one of responsibility. If a company decides to get involved in NFTs for its games, it implicitly assumes responsibility for the idea – if the business fails, if fans hate the idea, or if NFT buyers feel ripped off for any reason on across the board, the fault lies entirely and entirely with the company that built the game, integrated NFT into it, and coined and sold the tokens.

If a third party creates an unauthorized NFT system based on modding a game to support NFT skins or models, or even to use the platform as a springboard for more ambitious endeavors, as some Minecraft NFT entrepreneurs have suggested, then both the control and responsibility have been taken away from the creators of the game.

Most players and observers, however, will not make this crucial distinction between Minecraft and unauthorized third-party Minecraft NFTs; Mojang would be left with no control, no input, no direct responsibility and almost 100% blame if something went wrong.

If a company chooses to create NFT, that’s one thing. This is a completely different situation than a third party creating an NFT market in addition to your game

The incentive for NFT creators to hook onto a platform like Minecraft is obvious: in fact, the leading NFT platform for Minecraft, an effort called NFT Worlds, has an entire page on its website explaining why it endorsed its ideas. on Minecraft rather than building your own NFT game, it all boils down to the fact that Minecraft is popular, familiar, and open, while creating new games is expensive, risky, and difficult.

Given the enormous problems encountered by most other attempts to create NFT games, it is perhaps not surprising that someone came up with the idea of ​​putting NFT into someone else’s popular game; given the Wild West nature of the NFT space, it is hardly a shock that none of those involved seem to have wondered if this was a remotely ethical thing to do.

Minecraft is probably the perfect storm for this type of endeavor – it’s an extremely popular game whose openness in terms of ease of editing or adding content is a big part of its appeal to some segments of its audience. No other game with comparable popularity has a comparable openness, but that doesn’t mean that other games out there won’t face similar challenges from overly enthusiastic or simply unscrupulous aspiring NFT entrepreneurs.

Building an NFT ecosystem on top of the bones of an existing, easily editable game is a relatively low fruit for those who are convinced that there are fortunes to be made in video game NFTs, especially now that the difficulty of building a decent scratch game has become clear. to most of them (strange, isn’t it, how that minor fact escaped the attention of so many evangelists who presented themselves as video game experts when they explained how NFTs would be the holy grail for all kinds of imaginary problems with existing games).

With Minecraft now likely to aggressively control such behavior, attention will turn elsewhere and other gaming companies may find themselves forced to take a strong line on this issue rather than completely staying above the NFT fray.

Any company with an open source or mod-friendly game, even an old game, given the recent boom in popularity for new mods based on classic games, will want to review the issue of its terms and whether they allow it type of business; for not finding yourself held accountable for an NFT business that you never wanted any part of in the first place.

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