Former Nintendo of America CEO Reggie Fils-Aimé spent part of his time at last month’s SXSW festival explaining his personal excitement for the potential of blockchain-backed technology in games.
As spotted by Nintendo Life (via Kotaku), Fils-Aimé responded to a question from Bloomberg’s Emily Chang about blockchain technology, cryptocurrency, and “play-to-earn” by saying he’s “excited” about the technology, and that he sees a world where players can sell virtual goods when they’re done with the game.
Fils-Aimé used the phrase “play-to-own,” in what might be a bit of expectations-management about what blockchain tech is supposed to be used for. His example was that if blockchain tech were integrated into a game like Animal Crossing, a player who invested 300 hours into creating a beautiful island would be able to sell that island to another player when they were done with the game.
“There’s some games I’ve invested 300 hours in a game. And when I’m ready to move on to something else, wouldn’t it be great to monetize what I’ve built?” he posited.
His praise came with some (less-defined) caveats. He expressed that any implementation of such technology would need to be “good for the player,” downplaying the notion of developers using it because it’s “interesting” or as a primary means of monetization.
He did not address the (still-looming) environmental issues surrounding blockchain technology, or the plethora of scams and rug-pulls that have become synonymous with the scene.
Fils-Aimé’s sentiments mirror what we’ve heard in private conversations with other game industry higher-ups. Industry leaders from different backgrounds seem to be looking at the prospect of secondhand markets for digital goods with increased eagerness. Some have made comparisons to the Pokémon Trading Card Game phenomenon, others have pitched more limited visions, like how tabletop game players can sell their physical goods for a modest loss or gain when they’re finished playing.
Some executives are saying they wouldn’t take a cut of these sales, others are saying that the cut is the point. Few have interacted with the notion that they could just implement in-app-currency cashout systems similar to what Roblox Corp. does to accomplish the same goal.