Just three months after describing NFTs and the blockchain as “the future of our industry,” Electronic Arts seems to be easing up a bit. In an investors call following its Q3 2022 earnings report, CEO Andrew Wilson suggested that the future may not be as clean-cut as he thought, saying that the company is not “driving hard” on them.
Wilson compared NFTs to other technologies that have driven external investments into the industry, such as 3D and VR, and said that “collectibility,” built on four key metrics—quality, scarcity, authenticity, and perceived value—has been an important part of the business for years—long before NFTs came along. That’s not something he expects to change, although the nature of collectibles almost certainly will. (And, make no mistake, already has.) But how, exactly, is not so clear.
“I believe that collectibility will continue to be an important part of our industry in the games and experiences that we offer our players,” Wilson said. “Whether that’s as part of NFTs and the blockchain, that remains to be seen. And I think, the way we think about it is, we want to deliver the best possible player experience we can, and so we’ll evaluate that over time. But right now it’s not something that we’re driving hard on.”
It’s quite a different attitude than what we saw last week from Nicolas Pouard, vice president of Ubisoft’s Strategic Innovations Lab. Pouard said in an interview that the real problem with NFTs is that gamers just don’t understand them, and gave no indication that the company was considering a slowdown of its investment in the technology.
But while major publishers professed bold enthusiasm for NFTs last year, attitudes overall seem to be shifting, driven by a combination of sketchy (and, in some cases, outright criminal) behavior from NFT creators, and the fact that nobody really seems able to articulate what NFTs actually do that can’t be done with currently technology. GSC Game World halted a plan to incorporate NFTs in Stalker 2 following a strongly negative reaction from fans, and voice actor Troy Baker cancelled a partnership with VoiceVerse NFTs after receiving “feedback” from fans and fellow industry workers. Most recently, publisher Team17 dropped its plan to release NFTs based on the Worms series, 24 hours after announcing it.
For a deeper dive into where things stand, and our thoughts on the matter, be sure to have a look at our rundown of what to actually expect from NFTs in games this year.