Gamers’ Loathing of NFTs Deepens After Team17 Reversal on MetaWorms Deal

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The gaming community’s opposition to NFTs cranked to full boil this week when Team17, the British development studio famed for Blasphemous, accepted and then cancelled a deal to launch NFT collectibles a few days ago.

On Jan. 31, Team17 announced it would work with Reality Gaming Group (RGG) to launch an NFT project dubbed MetaWorms in celebration of its acclaimed video games series, Worms. That sparked revolt from Team17’s developers, some of whom had “voiced their disapproval” prior to the announcement, according to a report in Eurogamer. Others reportedly didn’t know of the plans before they were announced.

‘Pyramid Scheme’

There was more dissent from Team17’s development partners and the gaming community itself. Three days later, Team17 cancelled its MetaWorms NFT project. The company’s fans cheered the move. 

A follower called ‘The Ishikawa Rin’ praised the cancellation, characterizing NFTs as “a massive pyramid scheme and scam” that “should not be encouraged.” Another expressed surprise that Team17 had considered pursuing NFTs. “Had you not been paying attention to the constant backlash in the last six months every time someone announces their going into NFTs?”  tweeted The Dazeel. AwfulCabbage added: “Nobody wants NFTs in gaming and thank god you listened.” 

The problem? Many in the gaming community are vehemently opposed to NFTs because they are concerned about blockchains worsening global warming as they consume terawatts of electricity. Bitcoin’s power consumption alone now exceeds that of Norway, according to the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index.

While some crypto analysts are tipping GameFi and play-to-earn as the next frontier for digital assets, many gaming communities believe NFTs are environmentally damaging and serve little utility beyond a cash-grab for issuers.

Resistance to the technology has seen numerous firms back out of launching NFT content, with Sega, EA, and GSC all reversing course after praising the intersection between nonfungibles and gaming

On Feb. 1, Aggro Crab, an indie gaming studio and Team17 partner, tweeted that they would not be working together on future titles in response to the NFT plans, encouraging other developers to “do the same unless this decision is reversed.

“We believe NFTs cannot be environmentally friendly, or useful, and really are just an overall f*****g grift,” they added. The tweet received more than 107,000 likes.

Social Cost

The Team17 dustup quickly inspired other game studios to take a stand against NFTs. On Feb, 1, Overcooked developer Ghost Town Games tweeted that its titles “will never engage with NFTs.” The company said that NFTs “carry too great an environmental and social cost.”

Team17 is not the first company to renege plans to launch NFTs, with fans pushing back against both tokenized collectibles and in-game items.

In April 2021, gaming giant Sega partnered with developer Double Jump.Tokyo to launch NFT content. The move has received persistent backlash. Sega managerial staff recently stated it must “carefully assess” how they can address the concerns of users before proceeding with NFTs.

Electronic Arts (EA) CEO Andrew Wilson praised NFTs during a November earnings call and described them and play-to-earn gaming as “the future of our industry.” But Wilson appears to have had a change of heart during EA’s latest investors call, announcing the company is no longer “driving hard” on NFTs.

Many gaming communities believe NFTs are environmentally damaging and serve little utility beyond a cash-grab for issuers.

“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.”

On Dec. 15, Ukrainian developer GSC Gameworld announced plans to integrate NFTs into the forthcoming sequel to its S.T.A.L.K.E.R title. Theteam planned to hold an NFT auction in January, with the token’s holder able to have their likeness used for a non-playable in-game character. 

Despite GSC assuring that its NFTs “won’t influence the gameplay itself or give in-game advantages over other players,” fierce backlash drove the company to ditch its NFT plans just 24 hours later. “Based on the feedback we received, we’ve made a decision to cancel anything NFT-related in S.T.A.L.K.E.R 2,” the company tweeted.

Heavy Restrictions

Ubisoft announced it would be launching a marketplace for in-game NFTs dubbed Quart via YouTube video on Dec. 7. The following day, Kotaku reported that the video had received just 1,000 likes compared to 24,000 dislikes. 

Many criticisms focused on Quartz’s terms of service, which places heavy restrictions on the use of Ubisoft NFTs outside of the marketplace, including prohibiting fractionalization and their use in any media. Ubisoft pressed forward with its NFT plans despite the negative feedback, launching NFTs for its Ghost Recon Breakpoint title that same month. 

Last week, Nicolas Pouard of Ubisoft’s Strategic Innovations Lab said the company will continue to explore NFTs, asserting that many gamers “don’t get what a digital secondary market can bring to them.”

End Game

“For now. […] gamers really believe it’s first destroying the planet, and second just a tool for speculation,” he said. “The end game is about giving players the opportunity to resell their items once they’re finished with them or they’re finished playing the game itself.”

Quartz has performed poorly since launch, with Objkt estimating the marketplace has hosted 25 sales since going live.

The Defiant reached out to Sega, Ubisoft, GSC, and Team17 for comment and did not receive a response as of press time.

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