STALKER 2 developer GSC Game World has cancelled their controversial plans to sell the ability to appear as an in-game NPC using NFTs (non-fungible tokens). It comes after another wave of strong criticism and backlash to another game company trying to hop onto the NFT bandwagon with minimal reasoning.
— S.T.A.L.K.E.R. OFFICIAL (@stalker_thegame) December 16, 2021
“The interests of our fans and players are the top priority for the team,” GSC Game World writes. “We’re making this game for you to enjoy – whatever the cost is. If you care, we care too.”
However, that statement came after initially doubling down on their plans, stating that they wanted to “do NFT right” and revealing that they would use the NFTs to sell the nicknaming rights of in-game items like desks, gloves, skins and badges, in addition to the original promise to scan an NFT buyer and feature them in the game.
— Imran Khan (@imranzomg) December 16, 2021
A large part of the criticism of using NFTs came from the digital goods that were being offered. All of the things that GSC Game World mentioned are completely possible without using NFTs. In fact, they’ve been incredibly common as reward tiers for Kickstarter projects.
Another factor for GSC Game World was that including NFTs as part of STALKER 2, even if on the periphery of the project, could have harmed its status on digital game stores. STALKER 2 is sold on Steam, with Valve having previously taken a hard stance that NFT-based games would not be allowed on the storefront (arguably STALKER 2 could argue that they weren’t incorporating NFTs into the game), while Xbox boss Phil Spencer has gone on record to say that they do not want to see any exploitative and predatory takes on NFTs being incorporated into Xbox games. You have to wonder if Xbox put pressure on GSC, given that they are partnering on the game as a console exclusive.
Often based on cryptocurrencies like Etherium, NFTs have been derided for the astronomical amounts of power required for each transaction, and while there are less power-hungry ‘proof of stake’ alternatives, there is still often the notion that this is a digital technology that has yet to find a use case outside of exploiting some people’s willingness to throw large sums of money at them. Certainly, there are other existing methods to create and sell unique digital goods within existing games, and there’s just as little promise that the skin you buy in one game from one publisher is going to be usable in other games from other publishers.
Ubisoft also opened up an NFT-based cosmetics platform this month, with Ubisoft Quartz drawing similar criticism, the YouTube video getting a huge number of dislikes, and Ubisoft quickly deemphasising the initiative by deleting the video. Not only that, but as the 2,000 gun skins have ended up on NFT marketplaces, the highest offer to buy has been $21. Compare that to asking prices ranging from $634 to $423,000.