On October 9, 2022, Sony filed a patent titled “NFT Framework for Transferring and Using Digital Assets Between Game Platforms.” This patent represents a potential step forward for a unique NFT use case that people have discussed for years.
NFTs can let players transfer items from one game to another. For example, you can earn an outfit in “Fortnite” and use it in “Call of Duty.” However, there are several obstacles that publishers and developers must overcome to make this idea a reality.
Per the patent, Sony aims to create a system where gamers are awarded NFTs when they earn an in-game item. “The digital asset may be used, via the NFT, across plural different computer simulations and/or across plural different computer simulation platforms. Ownership of the NFT may also be subsequently transferred to other end-user entities for their own use across different simulations and/or platforms.”
There’s no info on how Sony plans to utilize this technology and whether users would have to pay a fee to participate. It’s too early to tell whether it will be isolated to specific games, but their language implies it’s intended to be cross-platform.
How do NFTs enable video game interoperability?
NFTs are one of the easiest ways for developers to achieve video game interoperability. When a gamer logs into their account, they can connect their crypto wallet. The game would read the contents of the player’s wallet and determine which in-game items they have based on the gaming NFTs they own.
When a player switches from one game to the next, the new game would again read the contents of their wallet and give them in-game items in accordance with their wallet contents.
Video game interoperability benefits
- In-game item ownership: Many games, such as “Fortnite” and “Pokemon Go,” prohibit players from selling their accounts or in-game items, meaning they don’t truly own them. Utilizing NFTs in traditional video games would give players the benefit of owning the things they earn.
- Enhanced gaming experience: Players often spend numerous hours on a single video game because their hard work and achievements can’t be transferred to a new game. Interoperability would give them the benefit of using their rewards across various titles.
- New income opportunities for developers: Developers and publishers could add royalties to their gaming-item NFTs, giving them a new income stream.
Video game interoperability barriers
Licensing issues are sure to be a barrier to video game interoperability. Developers will likely want to keep their items and intellectual property out of competing titles.
Exchanging items across various titles would create new developmental burdens for video game creators. Transferring an item from one game to another would be relatively easy if they used the same engine and had similar art styles. On the other hand, creating a comparable “Minecraft” item in a game like “Halo” would be challenging.
Although it’s tricky to create comparable items for various titles, developers could use a system similar to that of Nintendo’s Amiibos. For example, a player with a “Zelda” Amiibo might unlock a sword if they scan it while playing “Zelda: Breath of the Wild.” However, scanning that same Amiibo while playing “Super Smash Bros” might earn them a new outfit.
NFTs could be used to unlock items of similar value in various games, even if they aren’t the exact same.
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NFT Artist. Musician. Founder of Crescendo.