Microsoft’s Phil Spencer Doesn’t Feel Great about Current NFTs in Games, Calls Them Exploitative

Phil Spencer NFT

An increasing number of game studios are evaluating the potential of NFT (non-fungible token) blockchain technology in games. Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot, for example, said in the latest earnings call from a couple of weeks ago that the company wants to be one of the key players there. Indeed, Ubisoft has been part of the Blockchain Gaming Alliance for some time now.

As you see, this industry is changing regularly with lots of new revolutions happening. We consider blockchain one of those revolutions. It will imply more play-to-earn that will enable more players to actually earn content, own content, and we think it's going to grow the industry quite a lot.

So we have been working with lots of small companies going on the blockchain, and we're starting to have a good know-how on how we can impact the industry. We want to be one of the key players there.

EA CEO Andrew Wilson also commented on the topic as part of the latest earnings call, saying it's early but he believes NFT and blockchain will be an important part of the gaming industry in the future.

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I think the play-to-earn or the NFT conversation is still really, really early. And there's a lot of conversation and is at some level a lot of hype about it. I do think it will be an important part about the future of our industry on a go-forward basis. But it's still early to figure out how that's going to work. I feel good about our position with respect to that.

Others are less enthused. Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney said the company won't use NFT blockchain technology in its games, but it also won't prevent other developers from using it in the Epic Games Store. On the other hand, Valve has outright banned games that use NFT blockchain technology in October.

What about Microsoft, though? Speaking to Axios, Head of Gaming Phil Spencer said he feels current implementations are more exploitative than something he'd feel comfortable putting on the Microsoft or Xbox stores.

What I'd say today on NFT, all up, is I think there's a lot of speculation and experimentation that's happening, and that some of the creative that I see today feels more exploitative than about entertainment.

I don't think it necessitates that every NFT game is exploitative. I just think we're kind of in that journey of people figuring it out.

And I can understand that early on you see a lot of things that probably are not things you want to have in your store. I think anything that we looked at in our storefront that we said is exploitative would be something that we would, you know, take action on. We don't want that kind of content.

Of course, beyond the potential for exploitation, there's also the environmental consideration to account for given that blockchain operations notoriously require high amounts of energy.

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