EA boss Andrew Wilson – the Australian executive who pioneered Ultimate Team, for the record – believes that blockchain-based “play-to-earn” games could be the future of the industry. However, he caveated that “it’s still [too] early to figure out how that’s going to work”, so don’t expect this dystopian future to arrive any time soon.
“I think that in the context of the games we create and the live services that we offer, collectible digital content is going to play a meaningful part in our future,” he said. “So, it's still early to tell, but I think we're in a really good position, and we should expect us to kind of think more innovatively and creatively about that on a go-forward basis.”
Feeling confused? The concept of “play-to-earn” ties into NFTs and cryptocurrency, where players effectively “buy-in” to a release where they can unlock unique, in-game items. These, naturally, could increase (and, of course, decrease) in value and thus could be sold. Imagine unlocking a rare Cristiano Ronaldo card in FIFA, and then selling it to another player.
While that example may not be the direction EA ultimately adopts, it’s clearly thinking deeply about the potential here, and is hiring people with an understanding of NFTs and the blockchain. And before you direct all of your ire at EA, it’s worth noting that Ubisoft is also thinking in the same way: “We want to be one of the key players there,” boss Yves Guillemot has said of the emerging trend.