First there were reports that Ubisoft has its own blockchain development team secretly working on blockchain-based gaming initiatives, then its startup incubator appeared very interested in blockchain companies. Now Ubisoft has accepted an important role in the governance of a blockchain-based games distribution platform.
Investigating blockchain technology for better in-game item functionality
The Assassins Creed creator was revealed to have been investigating blockchain technology in gaming for “several months,” in June this year. Sources, and reports by a French publication, hinted Ubisoft was testing blockchain for the potential purchasing of in-game assets and accessories. It was assumed likely at the time that Ubisoft could release a new game title to trial the use of the technology.
Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology has the potential to deliver better game monetization and easier, more secure micropayment processing for in-game economies. Blockchain-based game items, like skins, could be traded by owning players and used outside of their originating game, something that could be massively attractive to gamers.
Adopting new companies pursuing blockchain’s benefits for gamers
Ubisoft Entrepreneurs Lab, a startup incubating program that sees Ubisoft experts mentoring and supporting innovative new companies, selected a new blockchain company for the program just weeks ago.
Ubisoft Strategic Innovation Lab start-up program director Catherine Seys, referring to the labs fourth season of selecting new projects, said at the time:
“The focus this season is in line with our goal to explore potential blockchain use cases for the gaming industry, and see how the technology could enhance players’ gaming experience.”
The adopted new startup is Planetarium, and it is creating tools for developers to build decentralized blockchain-based games and their own blockchains to host them on. Planetarium’s Libplanet technology may eventually also allow games to build their own modified games and worlds. The first game on the platform is Nine Chronicles, an open source RPG.
Ubisoft will be validating blockchain transactions for game platform Ultra
Now Ubisoft is getting involved with another blockchain project, and it is quite a leap into the nascent sector.
Ultra is developing a games distribution platform built with, and on, blockchain technology. It’s using the same software that powers the EOS cryptocurrency’s blockchain, called EOSIO to create its own blockchain UOS.
UOS will work in a similar way to EOS, so to verify transactions, secure them, and record them immutably to the UOS blockchain it has to have block producers. As blockchains are decentralized they need a community of independent nodes to overview and process transactions, or in essence to run the software that does this.
These nodes are block producers and without block producer agreement that a transaction is true a blockchain’s continuous recording of data and generating new blocks cannot continue. EOS has 21 block producers, companies and organisations from around the world who own EOS tokens and participate in EOS validation and governance.
Ubisoft, in a partnership with Ultra, will become a corporate block producer on Ultra’s UOS blockchain during its trial, testnet, phase. This will see Ubisoft contributing to maintaining the network and approving blockchain transactions by providing computing infrastructure.
The transactions could include the payments and the creation of in-game assets, and the record of when an asset is bought, sold, or traded, and changes ownership.
As per CoinTelegraph and Venturebeat, Ultra founder Nicolas Gilot says Ubisoft’s “years long dedication to exploring blockchain technology ensures they have the knowledge and skills to be excellent block producers.”
Gilot wants to “shake up” the gaming industry and put power back with developers and players, he adds:
“Since Ubisoft is already a leader in the games industry and shows commitment to probe blockchain as a viable technology for games, we are very excited to be announcing our first cooperation of this kind with them.”
And, Ubisoft’s blockchain initiative director Nicolas Pouard illustrates the company’s clear commitment to blockchain technology, saying:
“Our team at the Strategic Innovation Lab strongly believes that all Blockchain use cases that bring value to players are important to support, and Ultra offers a solution that does just that.”
Reporting, based on a recent press release, indicates that Ubisoft will begin its role on the Ultra UOS testnet this year and if the project is successful may well continue its role when the Ultra platform and blockchain is ready for a full-scale launch.
The race to launch a first blockchain-based game to rival the likes of Assassins Creed, or even League of Legends and Fortnite, could well be on. A new games studio, Mythical Games, focusing purely on blockchain-based game development has just seen $35 million in venture capital investment.