Tag Archives: Epic Store

Crypto and NFTs Still Trying to Undermine Video Games

This past week we saw a very strong stand against the scam that is crypto and NFTs when Microsoft, through their Mojang subsidiary, announced that NFTs and blockchain would not be allowed to interface with Minecraft in any way due to the speculative nature of the technology and the dubious practices of its proponents.

This follows on… a bit late, but at least it happened… from companies like Valve not allowing crypto on its Steam platform to CCP walking back their rather obvious desire to hook blockchain in EVE Online.

This has been a good trend, since we kicked off the year with things like the buffoonish declaration from the president of Square Enix about serving an audience that wants games to be work rather than fun.

And you would think, with crypto crashing hard for the last couple of months, companies might want to bail out of the who thing, or at least keep a low profile.  And some clearly are… while others, not so much.

Epic Games Store

First up is Tim Sweeney.  I really don’t know that much about him other than he is a smart guy, that Fortnite has made him rich, that he hates giving money to Valve, Apple, and Google, but doesn’t mind handing it over to Sony and Microsoft, and that he wants to dislodge Steam with his own Epic Games Store.

Oh, and he comes across as somebody who really wants to be the good guy, even when he is clearly reading from the wrong script.

So, naturally he was out there after the Minecraft announcement, replying directly to that announcement on Twitter, declaring that the Epic Game Store would not be banning cryto and blockchain on its platform and that developers should be free to do anything that is legal.

Naturally, when previously asked if Epic itself was going to get into crypto, he said they wouldn’t be touching NFTs, the market being mostly scams.

I remember when Valve said they didn’t want to get into dictating what kind of games developers could put up on Steam.  They have since quietly dropped that stance and spend quite a bit of time banning titles that do not meet their own standards.  Nobody will think you’re a hero if you let scams and garbage into your store.

GameStop

It is 2022 and I am honestly surprised that GameStop is still a thing.  But there was that who stock market thing that I still don’t quite understand, save for the fact that I am sure somebody got rich out of it… and not anybody who wasn’t wealthy already.

Anyway, having survived that GameStop went hard into crypto and NFTs recently, selling things like callous rip-offs of famous photographs from 9/11.

True to the trend for the company in the last few years, this strategy to go all in on crypto just as it was crashing might not be going as planned.

Square Enix

While SE had to assure people that they wouldn’t be injecting blockchain into their beloved titles like FFXIV, they were still bound and determined to get in on this crypto fad.  And so the plan became to sell collectibles with associated NFTs.

Why you need an NFT is you have a physical item seems like a tough question to answer, but at least they didn’t go with their initial “all work and no fun makes Square shareholders richer” plan.  There is no play to earn video game in the mix.

Entropia Universe

I like Entropia Universe, if only because it has been running the play to earn game for almost two decades now and never needed blockchain, crypto, or NFTs to make its way.

It is still, by all reports, a tedious and unfun game to play unless you are willing to spend money, but at least it was a shining example of why play to earn needs crypto the way a fish needs a bicycle.

But, apparently, if you’re already in the play to earn space and see a bandwagon to jump on, you do it.  And so they will be auctioning off five unique in-game eggs that… somehow are not supposed to be about speculation.  I guess I have to give them credit for at least understanding scarcity and fear of missing out… and for no doubt getting that blockchaining all the things is a bad idea.  Still, they couldn’t resist at least a taste of that NFT hype.

Atari

I have been over the degradation of Atari before.  They were minting a cryto currency two years ago.  Still, I got an offer from them to buy a limited edition T-shirt to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the company and was completely unsurprised to see the company’s current logo and focus.

Two of these are correct

People have been abusing the decomposing corpse of Atari for more than 30 years.  They sure as hell are not making any games, just recycling whatever part of the company’s history can be turned into a buck.

Anyway, even in the wake of crypto’s big fall, you still have things you can throw your money at if you want to help destroy the environment and enable various scams.

Facebook, the Metaverse, and John Carmack

The metaverse is honey pot trap for architecture astronauts.

-John Carmack, Consulting CTO for Oculus VR

The metaverse has been much discussed in our little corner of the world here in 2021, largely due to Raph Koster and his Riffs by Raph columns over on the Playable World site where he has been writing about virtual worlds, multiverses, and the potential for a metaverse.  While he is clearly selling a vision as much for investors as for us, his self-promotion contains plenty of valuable insight.

There has also been something of a wave of NFT and blockchain proponents hyping their favored tech as the key ingredient for some future metaverse, though they can hardly drag themselves away from destroying the planet and scamming people with the virtual goods version of the property flip scam to be taken seriously.  They are are just modern incarnations of those who would sell the Brooklyn Bridge or investment opportunities in perpetual motion machines.  George C. Parker would be very much at home among them.

Steam went so far as to ban all titles that have NFT or cryptocurrency ties. (Scott Hartsman has a Twitter thread about why Steam might not want the liability that comes with those titles.)  Epic went the other direction immediately because Tim Sweeney’s idea of an argument is the automatic gainsaying of whatever his opponent says.  But Tim Sweeney says a lot of things, and he carefully caveated his statement to give the Epic Store an out.

But the big bombshell this week was Mark Zukerberg announcing his intention to create the metaverse and being so invested in the idea that he has changed the name of his company to Meta.

The memes based on this image are quickly becoming meta

My gut reaction to a Facebook owned metaverse requiring me to strap their Oculus hardware to my face and let them watch and exploit everything I do in their Horizon virtual world sim is a pretty strong negative.

The pitch has been put together in this 20 minute video which features Zuckerberg himself explaining how he wants to co-opt the metaverse idea and make it something he controls.  He isn’t so much promoting a metaverse so much as a “Zuckerverse” where he’ll be king.

Part of me sees evil based on what Facebook has become, but part of me also sees somebody who peaked in their 20s with an astounding success, becoming a billionaire over night, who now wants to top that.  Oh, and I also see somebody who has no idea what real people want or need… and maybe a bit of distraction from the bad odor Facebook is in right now as well.  Lots going on here.

And I am one of those people who read Snow Crash in the late 90s and have been hearing about the idea of VR since the mid 80s, so I am still in the target zone for online world ideas.  But Facebook driving it… well, a lot of people were annoyed/dismayed when Facebook bought Oculus back in 2014, and we were only angry because Facebook hosted crappy spammy social games and harvested our data. (Some fun links in that post. I think the Raph Koster one might be the most on the money, which doesn’t surprise me.)

More interesting and refreshing though has been the take by John Carmack, Consulting CTO for Oculus, which Facebook owns (and which is also losing its name), who gave the keynote speech for Zuckerberg’s event.  He seems much less convinced that the metaverse is an achievable objective in the way that is being presented.  The video of his presentation is embedded below, dialed up to just where he begins to speak about the metaverse idea.  He is a strong proponent of the idea, but not so much of the path it is on, and is keenly aware of the complications it faces.

The “architecture astronauts” he mentions in the keynote, from the quote I have at the top of the post, are those who like the big picture ideas of the metaverse while skipping over the details of how to actually make those big picture ideas work.

Carmack is very much about those details and points out quite a few issues with the idea of an Oculus VR based metaverse, not the least being the problem of the headset itself.  He compares it to the ubiquity of our phones and the challenge of reaching that level with hardware that you have to strap to your face and which blots out the real world, not to mention the whole motion sickness thing.  I mean, he still seems all in on a Facebook metaverse, he just just comes across as skeptical that they’re going about it the right way.

Anyway, there is a bunch there to digest and news stories abound about the Facebook announcement, so use your favorite search engine to find them, though if you want the best headline to come out of this, Vice has you covered.

Ars Technica also has a summary of the Carmack keynote if you don’t want to watch it, though I think watching it has much more impact.  There is also a nice Twitter thread that brings up key Carmack statements which is a quick read.

As for Facebook changing its name to Meta… does anybody actually call Google “Alphabet” now?  And what happens to The Meta Show, the weekly EVE Online Twitch show?  Does this help it or hurt it?

We’ll see what this looks like a year from now.

Addendum:  The Meta Show rebrands in light of the changes over the past week.

Fountain Frank announces The Facebook Show