A game designer from Destiny 2, Max Nichols, deals with the topic of “NFT”: In 2021, technology will become a trend topic in gaming. Nichols explains why technology has no place in gaming. They bring no advantages and only disadvantages.
What kind of new gaming trend is this?
The NFT technology makes it possible to use the blockchain to create unique digital objects that have a kind of serial number and can be freely traded. The idea is that these items cannot be copied arbitrarily and are therefore limited, thereby becoming “authentic” and having the value that buyers attribute to them. This value can get very high – a Pixel yacht recently sold for € 572,000.
In gaming, some publishers see the possibility of using NFT to develop new models through which players can specifically buy and sell digital items – for example via auctions. Investors see NFTs as an opportunity to generate a lot of money. It’s about billions of dollars. At the moment it is the turn of new companies to develop games around this technology. But established publishers like Ubisoft are also playing with the idea of integrating the technology into their existing games and releasing “cosmetic items with serial numbers”, for example. The reaction of the players to these items is generally rather negative.
Game designer explains that NFTs have only disadvantages in gaming, no advantage
This is how Bungie reacts to the trend: At Bungie, the chief developer, Joe Blackburn, posted a picture which NFT he loves: New fights against tanks. An allusion to the raid “Wrath of the Machine” that he created for Destiny 1. There the guardians fought with the cyborg tank Aksis. That rejection of NFT seems to be rooted in Bungie. The game designer in Destiny 2 Max Nichols already dealt extensively with NFT in October and declared that it had no place in gaming.
Nichols even says NFTs are harmful to gaming. They would be harmful to the environment, would be suitable for scams and thus enrich fraudsters. Even if you ignore all of this and only focus on the view as a gameplay designer, NFTs are harmful to gaming.
He explains: All the supposed advantages of NFTs, creating a unique item and enabling players to make money, are not something you need NFTs for. Gamers have been making money from gaming for decades by selling trading cards on Steam or accounts on Ebay. “Unique items” are attached to the code of games, they don’t need NFTs or energy-hungry technologies like the blockchain. Nichols sees the disadvantage of NFT that it brings an “extrinsic motivation” into play:
People actually play to have fun – an intrinsic motivation, you play for the sake of it. They would then also play with NFTs in order to earn something – an extrinsic motivation, one plays in order to achieve something that has nothing to do with the actual activity. Research shows that such “extrinsic” elements reduce the satisfaction of an action.
Business interest clings to “Make the best game possible”
From the gameplay designer’s point of view, NFTs lead to constant conflict. With every decision one has to consider: How do I get people to buy something? The priority “I want to play the best possible game” clashes with a second, equivalent goal.
With every model, this idea is repeatedly influenced and compromised by business interests. Every payment model has an impact:
- In the case of subscription MMOs, the content must be stretched.
- In arcade games you always needed points at which players fail hard.
- With full-price titles, players would have precise expectations of the length of the game or the graphics.
But earlier, when gameplay designers developed full-price titles in the 90s, everything revolved around the question: “How do I make the game as good as possible?” If NFTs continue to drive game developers’ business interests, Nichols sees the danger that the focus will shift further and further from “let’s make the game the best it can”. As a gameplay designer, Nichols is not at all a fan of NFTs. And Bungie seems to share that opinion.