Troy Baker, a prominent voice actor perhaps best known for playing Joel in The Last of Us, is stepping away from an NFT partnership following significant outcry. In the early hours of January 14th, Baker announced on Twitter that he would be partnering with a company called Voiceverse, which creates “Voice NFTs” that each have a “unique AI-generated voice map,” but he now says he won’t continue the partnership.
In his original announcement, it seems Baker expected some backlash — perhaps he has seen some of the gaming community’s opposition to NFTs already, like what led to the removal of planned NFTs from the upcoming S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl. “You can hate,” part of Baker’s tweet read. “Or you can create. What’ll it be?”
On Monday, he apologized for that choice of language. “Intentions aside, I’ve heard you and apologize for accusing anyone of ‘hating’ just by simply disagreeing with me,” he said. He had also apologized hours after he first announced the partnership, saying the statement was a “bad attempt to bring levity.”
Voiceverse also received heavy criticism following the original partnership announcement, with some pointing out that its NFTs had the potential to replace voice actors, who already have a challenging road in the industry. Voiceverse tried to control some of the damage by posting a Twitter thread to explain the premise of its Voice NFTs (apparently, the actors that lent their voices to Voice NFTs would get royalties) and a screenshotted note claiming that it wants to “disrupt the industry by opening up a new stream of opportunities for Voice Actors, not replacing them.”
While Baker says he chose not to continue the partnership, Voiceverse claims the two parties “mutually decided” to end it.
Baker’s reversal comes shortly after Ubisoft received a new wave of pushback for its NFT plans. Fans haven’t responded well to the company’s Digits NFTs announced in December, and in an interview with Australian publication Finder published last week, Nicolas Pouard, vice president of the company’s strategic innovation lab and the head of its blockchain initiatives, said he still believes NFTs are “really beneficial” for players and that fans “don’t get it for now.”
Indie developer Team17 is also under scrutiny for its decision to make Worms NFTs (called MetaWorms, in case you were wondering), though Team17 “has no plans to introduce NFTs or play-to-earn NFT mechanics into any of its indie games label titles,” according to a statement given to Eurogamer.