News around traditional web2 companies engaging with web3 technology and ideas seems to be landing more and more often. This week we have Google setting up a series of rules for NFT enabled games in their store, while Sega backtracks on their plans… maybe?
The mainstream world of gaming can’t decide what to do about NFTs and blockchain gaming. Some just dip their toes in haphazardly, some accept web3 gaming with caveats, and others outright reject the idea. It seems that only breakaway studios and independent developers are willing to fully embrace the idea of NFTs in gaming.
This week brings some news from a couple of big players as Google sets out their rules for allowing NFT games on their Play Store, and Sega seems to be all over the place!
NFT Apps on Google Play Store
Google’s new policy changes aren’t a full embrace of NFTs. But at least it’s an acknowledgement that they exist! And, of course, these rules are couched in terms of ‘protecting users’, though they don’t seem to have any concern about monetization in other apps.
The main point of their policy is that apps cannot offer purchases where the value of the purchase is unclear unless they are flagged as a gambling app and own a gambling license. This would include loot boxes for example. And likely anything that generates a random rarity item. Developers must also be clear about whether or not their app includes tokenized digital assets.
Google will allow NFTs to unlock in-app content, which is an upgrade from Apple’s policy. However, developers are not allowed to “promote or glamorize any potential earning from playing or trading activities.”, which may not be that big of a deal. Most web3 games are already shying away from promoting earning potential in their games anyway.
Sega Can’t Pick a Lane
Meanwhile, Sega seems to be sidetracking on their plans to develop NFTs for some of their games. Two years ago they announced their intention to sell NFTs based on their famous IPs such as Sonic the Hedgehog and Virtua Fighters. They also mentioned some sort of idea for a ‘SuperGame’ that would encompass many other web3 games. But that idea never went anywhere. They also announced plans last year about creating a web3 version of Sangokushi Taisen.
Then, recently, the co-COO of Sega called blockchain games “boring”, and said they would be pausing their own web3 development plans, and preventing third parties from using their franchises in blockchain games.
But then, just a few days ago, a company called Line Next released an announcement stating that they had an agreement to develop a web3 game around a Sega IP! So what is actually going on at Sega is hard to tell. Perhaps the company is so big that some divisions don’t talk with each other? Or maybe the COO spoke too soon? Or maybe they are backtracking on their backtrack. Whatever the case, I would not expect Sega as do anything groundbreaking or meaningful in the web3 space for some time.
In other Sega news, Yuji Naka, a co-creator of Sonic, was recently sentenced to two and a half years in prison for insider trading for purchasing shares of companies right before they announced new releases!
The comments from the upper echelon of Sega once again show a lack of real understanding. If blockchain gaming is boring, then make a blockchain game that is fun! And not every game needs NFTs or blockchain integration. While the idea of Sonic NFTs that could be used across the whole franchise is a cool idea, I suspect that the management at Sega didn’t have that as a plan. It seems that old-school, web2 game companies are still looking at NFTs as an alternate delivery system for microtransactions. But in reality, the main use case for gaming NFTs are about player ownership, interoperability (though this is still very much lacking), and use as badges / passes for exclusive content.
NFTs will be an increasingly larger part of gaming culture going forward. The question is, who’s coming along for the ride?