Ubisoft has today announced Ubisoft Quartz, its first blockchain-powered NFT system. But while NFTs are a source of excitement for some, many are concerned about their environmental impact due to the energy consumption they require. Ubisoft says that it has chosen an energy efficient system for Quartz, but has told IGN that it will reconsider the project if the blockchain ecosystem proves to be unsustainable.
Talking to IGN ahead of the Ubisoft Quartz announcement, Nicolas Pouard, VP of Ubisoft’s Strategic Innovation Lab, said: “That’s a first step for us. If we see [blockchain technology] cannot go [more energy efficient], if it’s not sustainable, of course, we will think again of what we are doing. But for now, on the technology we decided to work on, we are taking this concern very seriously.”
Pouard explained that Ubisoft’s Strategic Innovation Lab eventually settled on using Tezos, a blockchain system that uses the ‘proof-of-stake’ concept. Proof-of-stake systems are more energy efficient than the alternative ‘proof-of-work’, a system used by Bitcoin and other blockchains that has been repeatedly criticised for its negative environmental impact. Tezos, according to Ubisoft, uses one million times less energy per transaction than Bitcoin. For comparison, that’s 30 seconds of streaming a video versus one whole year.
However, the whole ecosystem is not clear cut. While Ubisoft Quartz uses Tezos and the proof-of-stake model for its NFTs, those items can then be sold on third-party marketplaces for cryptocurrency. That cryptocurrency is likely to be Ethereum, which is currently based on proof-of-work. Essentially, while Ubisoft’s own operation may be more energy efficient than some other blockchain solutions, it’s still putting items out into the world that can be purchased using environmentally damaging currency.
Pouard is hopeful that things will soon change, though. “The ecosystem linked to what we’re doing with NFTs is Ethereum, and the whole Ethereum ecosystem is moving towards proof-of-stake,” he says. Ethereum plans to move to proof-of-stake in 2022.
For more, check out what Ubisoft Quartz is and how it works. This is the first Ubisoft’s blockchain project, and will initially roll out for Ghost Recon Breakpoint. NFTs and blockchain use in games is already a hot topic among developers; while Ubisoft and Epic Games are pro, Valve has already banned blockchain games on Steam.
Matt Purslow is IGN’s UK News and Entertainment Writer.