Video games are expensive. They have been expensive for a long time and are getting more and more expensive. To a certain extent, it makes sense: game developers have to eat! But after a certain point it is being exaggerated. Loot boxes, gacha, and now NFTs are signs of this excess. In this week Split screenWe’re talking about all of the above and the many, many other ways video games are trying to take our money.
At the start of the episode, Ash Parrish, Mike Fahey and I – along with special guest Luke Plunkett, who has traveled from the Australian future – talk about the early problems of playing with microtransactions. Remember when people are absolutely despised Elder Scrolls IV: OblivionHorse armor? That seems to have happened to Akatosh at least 433 years ago. After that, we discuss the hot new moneymaking scheme in the art, sports and video game worlds: NFTs or non-fungible tokens. We talk about how they are ethically and Environment Disaster – not to mention it a questionable investment– but they are probably here to stay.
Then, for our final segment, we’ll discuss how all of these different money making systems and markets in and around video games overlap in ways that, to put it simply, isn’t great for ordinary people. We’ll also discuss recent monetization developments, including Activision-Blizzard’s hiring of a Bush-era counter-terrorism officer to deal with loot boxes and loot boxes emotional manipulation in games like League of Legends and, more controversial, Genshin Impact.
Get the MP3 Hereand view an excerpt below.
Ash: I didn’t know what this whole NFT thing was about three weeks ago, but now it’s all anyone can talk about. I know it’s been a while, but what got it in the zeitgeist?
Hatch: The art sales are astronomical. Art sales rose from $ 60,000 to $ 2 million to $ 6 million to $ 69 million in two months. I’ve seen some reports that cast doubts on some of the things behind this sale because hey, another thing everyone has been warning about is that this is a huge scam. But that other stuff, like NBA Top Shots, got big news in sports circles. Anywhere that NFTs have popped up at the same time, they have popped up in different communities, and so it also merges – which then leads to bigger outlets like the BBC that say, “Oh, what are NFTs? Let’s write about it. “
Ash: So, is that the one guy behind NFTs who just got the shit out of this stuff?
Hatch: Maybe not the one, but the people involved, there is this possibility. Because that is the other question: who is behind these marketplaces and who are these people? Where is the regulation and legitimacy in this market? When I buy something on eBay, it offers different levels of protection and legitimacy. If I buy a token in a store that I never knew existed a month ago, will I have the same level of security with my property, legality and all the other things behind it? I do not know that. I am not saying that it is not legal. I’m just saying these are more of the questions people should be asking themselves rather than just blindly jumping into this market. This is a marketplace that the planet has never seen and people take it for granted that it will work. Maybe not.
People who are interested in this crypto stuff will say, “Oh, but what about real money? What about these transactions? What about the stock market? “And it is, well, but also a lot of real world transactions are backed by real guarantees, and a lot of those real guarantees are related to real things. They are associated with property, they are associated with buildings, they are associated with businesses connected that occupy people. It is a completely different set of rules.
Nathan: And there are real consequences, right? I read a bit up Gizmodo yesterday about alleged NFT theft and second hand sales, and while the platform the transaction was conducted on was giving money back to the victim, those in charge said, “Well, it would be unfair for us to take the art back from its new owner . “Basically, they decided the theft wasn’t their problem.
Hatch: It’s a deeply Silicon Valley view of consumer rights.
Nathan: And lest you worry that this didn’t go straight into video games, it has. There have been many video games that were rooted in NFTs, and they have been around for about as long as NFTs have been around. Cryptokitties
Fahey: I saw one recently where you had to create your own character, upgrade that character, and then sell that character.
Nathan: There is property too. In a game called Mirandus, someone spent $ 800,000 on a citadel. There is another game that I mentioned the newsletter from Dean Takahashi VentureBeat. It’s called The sandpitand it is basically Roblox, but with NFTs, people own their creations as NFTs. It all sounds vaguely compelling when you really own it, but there are so many other mechanisms for these features already built into games. As if there was this piece in this newsletter where he said, “In a game, I could buy an NFT to commemorate my graduation Red Dead Redemption 2or capture everything I’ve done in the game and follow my unique path through. I could maybe show this to people at some point in the future and tell it with pride. I would pay for it. “
I read this sentence and thought, “I wouldn’t pay for that!” Because you can already do that with Nvidia Shadowplay or the Share button on your PlayStation controller.
Hatch: You can imagine how many people there are at EA, Activision, and Ubisoft hard at work Find ways to reinforce this FIFA and call of Duty. It makes me breathe out deeply every day.
Nathan: One of the standout events in recent video game monetization is that Activision-Blizzard hired a former Bush-era torture apologist who primarily works in the box of loot and consumer privacy space. Her name is Frances F. Townsend and in his wonderful article on all of thatEthan described her as a “George W. Bush-era counterterrorism officer and torture apologist”. She is the new Compliance Director for Activision-Blizzard, which means that she is responsible for ensuring that the company does not violate various rules and regulations in all countries regarding player privacy, loot boxes and other issues.
That’s what’s special about all of this: even if companies don’t admit it when they make such decisions and even have these kinds of positions, they say that they are often on the verge of what is happening is allowed or legal. You know it. I think they especially see the wind blowing with loot boxes and they say, “If we want to keep doing this, we need someone in our company to watch and twist what we are doing so that it is still technically legal. “
That seems particularly relevant to me, given the explosion in NFTs and what Luke said – that there are likely people in large video game companies developing plans to use NFTs. In the same vein, I’m sure compliance officers say, “How do we do this so that we don’t immediately ease the anger of lawmakers and regulators so we can make as much money as possible?”
That’s the gist of it all, isn’t it? Whether Steam is a market driven by hats and cosmetics that makes Valve a ton of money now and works entirely within its platform or NFTs or loot boxes or whatever, they all have in common that they are new Economies and markets that have been able to bypass regulations for years simply because they are new and outside of traditional regulations. And when regulators and lawmakers notice them, they are already entrenched, or a number of rich people have already gotten richer, and they can just move on to the next step. That’s the grip, isn’t it? It’s cyclical. It happens over and over and over again.
For all of that and more, check out the episode. New episodes drop every Friday and don’t forget to like and subscribe to them Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Stitcher. If you’re feeling inclined to do so, leave a review and feel free to email us at [email protected] with any questions or suggestion. If you want to yell at us directly, you can reach us on Twitter: Ash is @adashtraFahey is @ OnkelFaheyand Nathan is @ Vahn16. Until next week!