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Ubisoft Goes Crypto-Crazy

View Nelson Schneider's Profile

By Nelson Schneider - 11/14/21 at 01:38 PM CT

I feel like I’ve been a really forgiving person, lately. While I never gave Ubisoft the time of day during their early years of crap development, or their middle years of crap development… or their latter day years of crap development, when the company started to produce actual high-quality products for the first time in its history, I was right there to hand out the solid review scores. Heck, I’m not even critical of Ubisoft’s alleged intra-corporation “rape” culture, because they’re French, and everything I know about the French, I learned from Pepe LePew.

No, Ubisoft has been on a solid roll lately, with two rollicking entries in their oldest-currently-running franchise, ‘Rayman,’ a nice art-house Indie-style RPG in “Child of Light,” a thought-provoking entry in their ‘Far Cry’ series, and transitioning ‘Assassin’s Creed’ from a banal “Da Vinci Code”-esque conspiracy simulator to a set of sprawling historical Sandboxes, it seemed like the French bastards finally got their stuff together. They even managed to win the Game of the Year crown from MeltedJoystick last year with the horribly-renamed (but not their fault) “Immortals: Fenyx Rising.”

Alas, it seems that Ubisoft doing things ‘right’ may have just been a series of Happy Accidents. At a recent earnings report, Ubisoft’s executive turd nuggets revealed that the company has been investigating the use of blockchain (e.g., crypto-mining) and NFT (e.g., crypto-coins attached to image hashes) technologies in gaming since at least 2018. Furthermore, Ubisoft is, reportedly, one of the largest investors in Animoca Brands, a Hong Kong-based startup that is looking to ‘gamify’ crypto-mining and monetize gaming through the injection of blockchain tokens, not appreciably different from the deplorable behavior exhibited by Atari (delenda est) not long ago.

Ubisoft alleges that adding crypto-currency nonsense to gaming will introduce a new paradigm for Free2Play games they’re calling ‘Play2Earn.’ While the details are, like everything else revolving around blockchain technology, vague and intentionally opaque, it sounds like Ubisoft wants to install crypto-miners on customers’ machines, allowing said customers to generate ‘value’ by earning crypto-coins for Ubisoft, which Ubisoft will, then, exchange for crappy in-game rewards, in a scheme not all that different from the days of real mining, company stores, and scrip currency.

It was bad enough when corrupt gaming corporations wanted to charge real money for imaginary loot boxes containing a random imaginary object. Now they want to exchange imaginary objects for imaginary money so they can later exchange that imaginary money for real money, suffocating an already ailing global economy with yet more artificial scarcity and the draining – rather than generation – of value.

China has already banned cryptocurrency transactions. Europe wants to regulate the anonymity out of them, thus effectively banning cryptocurrency transactions. These are two of the best things that can happen this digital Monopoly money. If only the United States was still a global leader and would put its foot down and ban the use of cryptocurrency as well.

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