Video games are poised to adopt NFTs as multiple executives from Ubisoft and EA Games have voiced their intent to explore the nascent technology in future titles. However, Xbox chief Phil Spencer isn’t quite sold on the prospect, warning that there is potential for NFTs to be “exploitative.”
NFT gaming projects involve the concept of gamers being able to buy and sell in-game items, property, and land for cryptocurrency. It’s a concept that’s being promoted as a means for players to earn real money while playing video games, while skeptics question the legitimacy of many of these efforts, which are rife with scams.
As the operator of Xbox, Microsoft effectively functions as a gatekeeper — alongside Steam and PlayStation — as one of the three main online gaming marketplaces. Steam, the largest PC gaming platform, quietly banned the use of blockchain-based games and NFTs on October 15.
Microsoft’s head of gaming Phil Spencer said that a lot of these projects “feels more exploitative than about entertainment.”
“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 exploitive than about entertainment,” said Spencer in an interview with Axios.
While Spencer did not draw a firm line against the inclusion of NFTs or projects built around blockchain technology, he said that the efforts are still in an experimental stage as the industry figures things out.
“I don’t think it necessitates that every NFT game is exploitive. I just think we’re kind of in that journey of people figuring it out,” added Spencer. “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 exploitive would be something that we would, you know, take action on. We don’t want that kind of content,” he said, suggesting that Xbox would join Steam in banning any such projects it deems exploitative.
The bottom line is that platforms like Xbox are taking a proactive stance to protect their customers, many of whom are adolescents who might otherwise fall prey to scams involving NFTs. It wouldn’t reflect well on Microsoft if it allowed con artists to abuse its customers through video games hosted on the Xbox marketplace.