The Big NFT Lie

No, you will NEVER be able to take your NFT from one game and bring it to a bunch of other games. Here’s why:

Imagine you’re running a game studio, and as always you don’t have time to build everything you want.

Your team has prioritization meetings every few weeks, estimating the time it will take to build proposed features and content.

You’re already cutting wonderful characters, cool weapons, and amazing costumes because there’s just not enough time, and you’re trying to protect your team from crunching for 18 hours a day near deadline.

Then a guy walks into your office with a big smile and an ape on his shirt and says, “Hi, I’m your competitor. Three years ago I sold my players hundreds of digital items with a unique code for each of them. I’d like you to build ALL of them into your game too.”

You stare at them as they open a binder, showing you sports cars and, at the same time, dragon mounts.

You’re making a science fiction first-person-shooter, but they want you to spend months adding vehicles to your game and also… Dragons.

Then another guy walks in with his own binder. And another.

And another.

You have a choice to make: 20x your dev budget to support a bunch of digital items your competitors *already sold their players years ago*…

Or… Get back to work on your own game.

There is only one way this sort of thing could work at all, and that’s within a specific UGC-driven game all built on the same engine that allows devs to take advantage of existing development work other developers have already made. Second Life did this. Roblox and similar games could do more of it. Skyrim modding effectively does this, though it isn’t monetized or an MMO.

However, even if it’s free, ask yourself this: Why would you want to support a digital item that your competitor sold their players years ago?

How might that affect your economy? How might it overshadow, or distract from your own creations? How might their Homer Simpson costume undermine the atmosphere of your serious Sci-Fi Shooter?

The business case for universal development only works for things like Amiibos, where developers have a central source of funding that has the incentive to create items that can unlock whatever content makes sense in each game. Even then, it’s not “bringing your car from Forza to New World”. That will never make sense even if it was achievable.

Special promotions with specific companies in highly litigated deals can make sense, such as the immense effort it takes to get Sonic to show up in Smash Bros; or even Spider-Man to show up in the MCU. Those legal hurdles exist as well, and they won’t go away any time soon with the major IPs.

There IS a lot of potential for the UGC model, but that’s a totally different situation. Likely the subject of a future post. Someone’s going to make hundreds of millions of players delighted with that approach.

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