Remember: In late 2021, the company announced that it would create a node on the Tezos blockchain, launch its NFT store called Quartz, and add skins of weapons and equipment in the form of NFTs in the game Ghost Recon: Breakpoint. A launch that is broadcast in most specialized media, we are also invited to the Saint-Mandé facilities to attend a long presentation of the interest of these NFTs, from which we left perplexed. If the promise of not harming the environment was fulfilled thanks to the protocol of the proof of stakeeach transaction in Tezos produces only 2.5 grams of CO2 equivalent (less than an email), it is the interest in the player that still seems to be clear.
Above all, Ubisoft launched into the blockchain through a two-year-old game, poorly received and little played, as if it only wanted to stick a toe to take the temperature and not invest too much money in the adventure. However, the official discourse was much more ambitious than that. The press release spoke of “the first step in our ambitious vision for the development of a true metaverse.”
Unsurprisingly, the public reception is icy. After several communications, Nicolas Pouard, head of the innovation strategy laboratory at the origin of the project, announces “I still think you can convince people of the interest of NFTs” and says that “the public has yet to understand the secondary market interest in blockchain”. However, Quartz closes a few months after its launch, in April 2022. It must be said that the number of trades that have taken place is ridiculous: only 96 successful transactions, according to Ars Technica.
During a press interview, the CEO of Ubisoft returned to half words about the foray into the blockchain, which is not even mentioned in full. Responding to a question from Eurogamer, Yves Guillemot said:
“We are interested in all technologies. This is the case of the cloud, the next generations of voxels or Web3. We’ve been testing a number of things recently for informational and research purposes, to determine how we should use them for gameplay. So we are experimenting with some games and seeing if it meets the needs of the players. But I would say that we are still in the investigation stage.”
“Our company experimented with virtual reality from the beginning, we were among the first on the Wii, we are always trying new things. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but we always want to bring new experiences to the player that are innovative and interesting. Our goal is to create the best possible experience, and new technologies are a very interesting vector for this thanks to less competition and the attractiveness of technological innovations for the most curious players.”
It is hard to believe, reading these lines, that Ubisoft has embarked on the blockchain. However, this is what transiently happened with Quartz. A predictable failure for the company’s analysts, as Virgile informed us in his excellent survey on the use of data in video games. Quote Yanisse (name has been changed), ex data analyst from Ubisoft:
“Based on data from social networks, for example, we analyze the positions that are generally observed. We did a little study where we sidetracked some things on Reddit with summaries of player positions talking about NFTs, it was very negative. Obviously, we weren’t going to have people throwing up and saying, “yeah, give us NFTs in Ghost Recon.” In fact, it’s a study that was done in a bit of a hurry because we didn’t have much time to try to tell Yves Guillemot not to do that.
His colleague, Marc (whose name has also been changed), adds:
“If you know a little about Yves’s character, he was thoroughly. As soon as bullshit marketing can bring in money, he disappears. So he asks our department if we have any information about NFTs. The director then asks a team leader, who in turn will ask someone on my team, who will launch an analysis for her by collecting data from social media and cross-referencing it with other data. He gives his analysis to the team leader, who then replies, “Oh no, we can’t tell Yves that.” There you go, end of story.”
At Ubisoft, it seems that we are no longer except for a contradiction.
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