What to know about Ubisoft Quartz and Digits
Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot recently told investors that the company wants to be “one of the key players” in blockchain gaming, and today, Ubisoft announced Quartz — its approach to NFTs in games you’ve actually heard of. First up, Ghost Recon Breakpoint.
The announcement trailer runs down the high-level pitch for the Ubisoft Quartz beta, and there’s also a dedicated site that gets into the nitty-gritty of Digits, which is what the NFTs are called. Put simply, Digits are limited-edition in-game cosmetic items with unique serial numbers, they can be sold from player to player with a third-party marketplace like Rarible or Objkt, and they have an “ownership history” of everyone who’s come before.
Depending on who you ask, the program, in general, isn’t too far removed from something like the Steam Market (minus all the NFT-specific considerations that are a big deal).
Digits are “stored on the Proof-of-Stake (PoS) blockchain Tezos,” which is a comparatively less energy-intensive solution than the Proof-of-Work protocol used for “other blockchains such as Bitcoin and Ethereum” — but these things are all relative. On the sustainability front, Ubisoft says it will make “details” about Ubisoft Quartz “public” as part of its “[commitment] to measuring its global environmental impact.”
For now, Ubisoft Quartz is technically a beta, so its reach is relatively limited.
Digits exist in owners’ third-party crypto-wallets, and they’re “playable” in the Ubisoft Connect PC version of Ghost Recon Breakpoint — the only supported game so far — after they’ve been synchronized with the player’s inventory. The plan is for “purely cosmetic items” rather than gear that can “influence the gameplay,” whether that’s PvE or PvP.
There are also eligibility requirements: in order to acquire Digits, players need to be 18 years or older, reside in an eligible territory, have 2-Factor enabled for Ubisoft Connect, and be at least “XP Level 5” in Breakpoint. The launch is set for Dec. 9 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific.
To give you a sense of what Digits even look like, the first three — M4A1 Tactical | Wolves, Wolf Enhanced Helmet A, and Wolf Enhanced Pants — are shown on the Ubisoft Quartz dashboard. They’ll be given out for free at varying times (the first on December 9) and with varying requirements (the steepest of which is over 600 hours of global playtime).
This move with Quartz — or really any of Ubisoft’s blockchain experiments — might go in one ear and out the other. That’s exactly how I feel, too. But whether it’s play-to-earn games or NFTs based on video game artwork or limited-edition “Wolf Enhanced Pants” in something like Ghost Recon, it’s clear that other publishers are also weighing their options in the short and long term. Games aren’t just games anymore. (Some of them, at least.)
We’ll keep tabs on how the Quartz program progresses (presumably with other games beyond Ghost Recon Breakpoint once the “beta” results are in), but for now, this scheme feels like a have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too moment for Ubisoft to appease investors.