French publisher and developer Ubisoft, known for the Assassin’s Creed series, has announced it has invested in Australian-based blockchain company Animoca Brands. Mentioned as part of its 2021-2022 first-half earnings figures, the move is cited as a step in the company’s strategy of ‘Building the future of Ubisoft.’
Under the report heading ‘Exploring innovative technology: Blockchain’, Ubisoft described how it took part in the latest funding round of Animoca Brands, and explained the company had been exploring the area ‘since the early development of the technology.’
‘This long-range exploration ties in with Ubisoft’s constant search for innovation and new ways to empower players as true stakeholders of its worlds,’ the statement reads. ‘It also gives Ubisoft the perspective to reflect on the best ways to overcome blockchain’s initial limitations for gaming around sustainability and scalability.’
Animoca Brands recently acquired Blowfish Studios, the Sydney-based developer and publisher known for releasing Projection: First Light, and developing Storm Boy: The Game, based on the Australian novel of the same name.
Blockchain technology, in essence, is a distributed computing network that records transactional data that is unalterable. It forms the basis of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Etherium, as well as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which record the ‘ownership’ of a digital piece of media.
The movement to implement blockchain technology into video games is yet to have any significant impact on the mass market.
Ubisoft’s involvement could change that.
When it comes to video games, blockchain technology has been highly criticised due to the impracticality and non-consumer-friendly nature of what it might do for the future of the medium. However, those complaints are nothing compared to the real and far more dire issue of the extremely high environmental impact that comes with the maintenance of the blockchain.
It’s worth noting that Ubisoft is currently an alliance member of the United Nation’s Playing for the Planet environmental collective.
Ubisoft is no stranger to exploring possibilities for its intellectual property outside of games.
The company is currently making significant moves in the film and television space with its Ubisoft Film & Television arm, responsible for projects like the Assassin’s Creed film, Apple TV+ series Mythic Quest, the indie horror film Werewolves Within, and upcoming adaptations like a live-action series based on Driver.
Ubisoft is also actively exploring new ways of expanding the business model of its games. The next Assassin’s Creed game, Assassin’s Creed: Infinity, is reportedly going to leverage elements of the live-service game model to continually serve content over a stretch of time and attract ongoing player engagement.
The seeds of this strategy can be found in the seasonal content in the most recent game in the series, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, which is cited as Ubisoft’s ‘2nd largest profit generating game in Ubisoft’s history, in less than 12 months.’
Hopefully, Ubisoft will seriously consider its environmental mission statement when considering any future business involvement with the blockchain.