Wherein I discuss my upcoming novel, why I thin NFTs have no place in gaming… again, and MMO so popular it is not allowing new players, and Tencent’s latest acquisition.
As I’ve previously mentioned, I am currently working on my sixth novel, Psycho Bullet Festival 2222, which has a hard, immovable, release date of 2/2/2022. I plan on releasing chapters every day at 22:22 UTC until 2/22/2022, with 2 chapters coming out on 2/2/2022. The novel has been written, a draft is ready, and if I screw up and push comes to shove, I could release the unedited text on its own, with no header images, as the 23 unique header images have yet to be created.
In other words, I have an enormous project coming up for Nigma Box, and the deadline is approaching SOON! As such, I would like to clarify that I will release basically NOTHING on Nigma Box in January. I prepared two posts to end out the year, including a short story and a standard year-end Ramble. But I do not plan on putting out another game review until my review of Pokémon Legends: Arceus on 2/23/2022.
That might sound like a long delay, and it is, but I NEED to get this novel done, and I want to get it done RIGHT. Because if I do not make this deadline, then I am going to need to take Nigma Box offline, erase everything I have built over the past 10 years, and will need to find a new corporate-owned platform to host my work. Because if I cannot do this, I do not deserve to have a website to call my own.
Between creating NFT basis worksheets for clients, writing up reasons NFTs do not have a purpose in the world of games, reading articles about why NFTs are bad, seeing AAA game publishers release NFTs to the confusion of their own staff, and chatting with a Chilean femboy about how NFTs are just a digital version of issues present in the physical art world, I’m getting a bit sick of talking about these bloody things.
Though, I do not think that any announcement regarding NFTs made me more frustrated than hearing about how Peter Molyneux ‘s latest game, Legacy, made $50 million by selling NFTs. Legacy is an online multiplayer economy simulator where the player takes the role of a business owner who needs to design products, manufacture products, trade resources with other players, and compete with them in various competitions. It sounds like a game ripe for the same sort of underhanded tactics and abuse found in real life businesses, and… it is, as the game gives players the ability to purchase land, which is sold as an NFT.
Now, I do not think the game actually launched and I don’t think that anyone has or can play it outside of the development team. This immediately worries me, because I’m pretty sure that developers 22cans and Gala Games can choose to never actually launch the game. In that case, the investors would almost definitely launch a lawsuit against them, but the possibility of taking the money and running is a very real one.
Furthermore, what the hell are these people actually buying? A plot of land in a video game where they can somehow generate crypto rewards? I guess that works as a means of investment, but what happens when this game dies out, the servers are shut down, or the playerbase vanishes? In any instance, these assets, these NFTs, would be rendered worthless. Meaning that the winners are those who flipped these assets for a quick profit, or those who sold for a gain during the life cycle of the assets, and the losers are the long-term investors who held the assets until the associated game was taken offline.
Based on that fact, I think it is safe to say that Legacy, and other games like it… are financial traps.
NFT games like this use the medium of online video games to create ponzi schemes where the originators amass wealth and those they successfully tricked are left with a worthless investment. While there is value in this for those at the top, the tastemakers who got in and got out before the farm catches on fire, their business plan relies on either perpetual growth (which is not a thing in business or economics) or duping people into buying something that seems valuable, but truly isn’t. Combine this with all the market manipulation that happens in these worlds, where people try to make the market move by shifting assets between themselves and their partners, and… I do not think it is too radical to say that NFTs are a scam.
NFTs are not about art. They are not about ownership. They are not about being able to point at an asset and say that you own it. They are a tool used to create value out of nothing. A tool used to manipulate people by creating a sense of value. And NFT games are not about using NFTs to enhance games. It is about giving NFTs a greater purpose in a game to facilitate a greater demand. Because if a cosmetic is exclusive/elusive, or if an overpowered weapon can be purchased, there are people who will spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on them. Just look at Counter Strike.
NFTs are a way to manipulate game-likers into spending more and more money in exchange for something of nebulous value. 3D video game assets do not cost much to produce. So long as your system is designed well, it is not that hard to make more powerful weapons. Games by no means need to use monetization methods like NFTs, nor do they benefit from this inclusion. If anything, they just make them worse experiences.
Monetization always makes games worse experiences, as it turns art into a product. It turns a recreational experience into a financial transaction. And if there is one thing the world does not need, it’s a bunch of bullshit that gets in the way of people enjoying their free time.
You know what lots of people have been playing to get the most out of their free time? Final Fantasy XIV. The game blew up in users earlier this year and with the release of the latest Endwalker expansion, the servers have been constantly congested. The obvious solution would be to introduce new servers or expand existing ones, but global chip shortages have made it difficult to get the supplies needed to manufacture new servers. This is a major problem, and Square Enix’s solution has been to give existing subscribers additional free days and to prevent new players from establishing an account.
Now, I think that this is kind of hilarious. Final Fantasy XIV is an MMORPG so successful that it does not and cannot support new players at the moment. It is a testament to the game’s draw, quality, and Square Enix’s lack of foresight. I get that this stuff is hard to plan around, and Square Enix did not want to invest in servers unless you need them. But this game has been seeing rising player counts since the pandemic began. That should have been ample time to prepare new servers, but I guess Square Enix just did not want to take the risk and is now paying for their conservative attitude by leaving potential revenue and exposure on the table because people cannot play this game.
Speaking of projects and not engaging with them, I have been in awe at the sheer breadth of acquisitions made by Tencent over the past two years and, right before things shut down for the winter holidays, they nabbed another one. Tencent is now the full owner of Turtle Rock Studios, the developers behind Left 4 Dead, Evolve, and the recently released Back 4 Blood. Meaning that one of the few AAA independent developers left out there is under the mantle of one of the largest companies in the games industry, and a company that is inextricably linked to China’s garbage government.
I have complained about acquisitions like this many times in the past, and my thoughts pretty much remain the same. While I’m sure that the shareholders of Turtle Rock are happy to have financial security for the rest of their life, I feel bad for the hundred-something workers who are now suddenly working under a Chinese mega corp. Also, as this practice keeps continuing, and keeps being normalized, I am sure that people will learn to accept the fact that Tencent owns so much of the games industry and simply stop caring about their involvement because they ‘want to support the developers.’ As if the developers get any money off of the titles they created.