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Many game developers hate NFTs, too

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Developers made their feelings known in the annual GDC survey

Ubisoft’s NFTs, pictured here, received a critical reception when they were announced.
Image: Ubisoft

NFTs have been a contentious topic in the video game industry as of late. Fans did not respond well to Ubisoft’s NFT plans, and the outcry to NFTs in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl was so vehement that the game’s developers decided to cancel them entirely. But it’s not just video game fans that are skeptical of the new technology; many game developers have similarly strong feelings, according to the Game Developers Conference annual survey, which was released Thursday.

“When asked how they felt about the possibility of cryptocurrency or NFTs in games, a few called it ‘the future of gaming,’” the survey said. “However, a vast majority of respondents spoke out against both practices — noting their potential for scams, overall monetization concerns, and the environmental impact.”

Many quotes directly from developers were scathing. “How this hasn’t been identified as a pyramid scheme is beyond me,” one wrote. “I’d rather not endorse burning a rainforest down to confirm someone ‘owns’ a jpeg,” said another. “Burn ‘em to the ground. Ban everyone involved in them. I work at an NFT company currently and am quitting to get away from it,” said another.

Not all were so critical. One positive response called cryptocurrency / NFTs “the wave of the future.” But according to the survey’s data, 70 percent of respondents said their studio had no interest in NFTs, which could indicate that we won’t see a lot of gaming NFTs in the near future.

The survey also showed growing support for unionization in the industry, a topic that has come to the forefront as workers have protested Activision Blizzard and after Vodeo Games organized the first certified video game studio union in North America. Fifty-five percent of respondents said game industry workers should unionize — the highest amount in the 10 years GDC has conducted the survey and up from 51 percent in 2021 — and 23 percent said talks about unionizing have happened where they work. While only 18 percent believe the industry actually will unionize, 36 percent said their companies were supportive of union talks.

However, studios still have plenty of work to do to combat toxicity, according to the survey. Only 38 percent of respondents said their companies “reached out to them to start a conversation about how misconduct and toxicity are handled in the industry,” which means that 62 percent did not. And some of the quotes from respondents were highly critical, calling company responses “tepid lipservice” and “woefully inadequate,” among other things. Even though some did have positive things to say about their company’s action, the survey data indicates developers feel more work needs to be done.

GDC is releasing the survey just about two months ahead of the physical GDC 2022 conference. Despite a recent surge in COVID-19 cases, the event is still scheduled to take in person from March 21st to the 25th at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

“We’re committed to having an event in person as long as it’s safe and as long as we’re permitted to do so,” Katie Stern, VP of media and entertainment at Informa Tech, the company that organizes GDC, told The Verge in an interview. To go to the conference, attendees must be vaccinated and have received a booster shot if an initial completed vaccination took place on or before September 14th, 2021. Attendees will also be required to wear a mask.

Stern said GDC is expecting 15,000 to 17,000 attendees, which is down from the 29,000 that attended in 2019, the last time there was an in-person GDC show. The DICE Summit is also still scheduled to take place in person in February, though E3 won’t be an in-person conference this year.


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