US publisher Electronic Arts reckons that NFTs and "play-to-earn" are part of the video games industry's future.
Speaking to investors for its financials for the quarter ending September 30th, CEO Andrew Wilson (pictured) said that these kinds of features will be "an important part" of games in the coming years. He did, however, say that this could be a while off yet.
Play-to-earn generally denotes experiences where consumers receive money – usually cryptocurrency – for engaging with a game. NFTs – non-fungible tokens – are items whose ownership is registered on a blockchain. So far, they have become a scourge, sorry, a plague, sorry, a big feature within the art space due to their ability to turn images into securitised assets that can be sold on later down the line for profit. It's pretty much what the entire art market has been doing for hundreds of years and also boasts that sector's proclivity for, erm, scams and financial sketchiness.
Both play-to-earn titles and NFTs require the use of decentralised ledgers backed by a blockchain. These require an increasing amount of energy to run; the Bitcoin blockchain uses 80 terawatts-hours of electricity per year, close to the total amount of power consumed by the nation of Finland.
"I think the play to earn or the NFT conversation is still really, really early, and there's a lot of conversation," Wilson said.
"And there's at some level, a lot of hype about it. I do think it will be an important part of our -- of the future of our industry on a go-forward basis. But it's still early to kind of figure out how that's going to work. I feel good about our position with respect to that.
"As a company, we have been leaders in the creation of digital content that has real collectable value in the embedding of that content as part of live services. What we know about collection over time is the collectibility is far more valuable to the collector where the collected item has utility. And I think that in the context of the games that we create and the live services that we offer, collectable digital content is going to play a meaningful part in our future. So still early to tell, but I think we're in a really good position, and you should expect us to kind of think more innovatively and creatively about that on a go-forward basis."
To no one's surprise, Atari has jumped on the NFT bandwagon – as well as the cryptocurrency one – while Ubisoft recently announced its plans to develop blockchain games. The French publisher has long been looking into the sector.
Valve recently said it wasn't going to be allowing blockchain games and NFTs on Steam, with developers and organisations in the sector publishing a letter advocating the firm to change its mind.