Ubisoft quietly stopped talking about NFTs a while ago, but the controversial idea is now back in the form of new licensed collectibles for Assassin’s Creed. Come along for the ride and we can suffer through this together.
The Assassin’s Creed NFTs, announced as fans eagerly await the next game in the series, Mirage, are made by Integral Reality Labs (IRL), a company that appears to have been willed into existence with the exclusive mission of trying to piss off gamers. Unlike conventional NFTs, which are essentially just signed JPEGs, IRL is calling these Smart Collectibles.
In addition to the NFT part, there will also be a physical acrylic cube with a little 3D printed figure of Ezio and other Assassin’s Creed characters inside. Then there’s going to be an app you can download to activate the characters’ “digital souls” and take them on a “journey” where they can “complete achievements and level up your account to earn and unlock items, recipes, and loot boxes” within the app. It seems the worst parts of the Assassin’s Creed grind have escaped Ubisoft’s microtransaction shops so they can annoy players in the real world as well.
No pricing has been announced yet, or even a release date for these collectibles. One thing IRL is very clear about is that these NFT figurines won’t interact with the games themselves at all and that Ubisoft is hardly even involved beyond licensing the brand. That only raises the question of why the publisher is involved at all, given the super negative reaction from fans the last time it experimented with NFTs.
Ubisoft announced its own blockchain experiment called Quartz in late 2021 with NFT items inside Ghost Recon Breakpoint. The initiative was panned, and as Kotaku reported at the time, even developers inside the company were furious about it. Some were worried the tech might be shoehorned into other games, while others felt it was a self-inflicted PR nightmare with no clear payoff. Ubisoft hasn’t really mentioned Quartz since.
But it now appears the company hasn’t given up on the prospect of NFTs entirely. While it’s not doubling down like Square Enix has, letting the mascot of Ubisoft’s most popular gaming franchise be turned into a blockchain Tamagotchi is certainly a choice. And hey, I like Tamagotchis. Just not ones that require a crypto wallet to customize traits and raise its “rarity score system.”