Gaming’s Flirtation With NFTs Isn’t Surprising, But It Sure Is Disappointing

NFTs suck. They’re glorified jpegs that rich idiots are scooping up to give themselves a tiny sliver of self importance while knowingly destroying the environment in the process. In the past 12 months they’ve become massively popular amongst millionaire celebrities and global tech companies wanting to cement their claim on this latest spin on cryptocurrency. I have a feeling they know the risks involved, but are wealthy enough that they just don’t care.

My heart shattered into a million little pieces when I saw Lil Nas X playing a part in this sorry state of affairs, and he isn’t the first person I expected better from to lean into the toxic practice of NFTs just to make some extra pennies. The world of games has been invaded by the insidious world of NFTs too, and I can’t say I’m surprised that greedy publishers and parent companies are more than willing to throw their communities aside in exchange for tacky art pieces that might make a quick profit. It sucks, and we shouldn’t enable them.

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Dead by Daylight and Behaviour Interactive were rocked by controversy earlier this week when it was revealed that Hellraiser’s Pinhead, an upcoming villain for the asymmetrical horror title, will be available to purchase as an NFT. One week Pinhead is trans, the next they’re an NFT. It’s been a whirlwind. You can now pay for the in-game model and ‘own it’ for yourself, even though the character is viewable in a comprehensive fashion by just typing their name into Google. You can even right click and save these image results and own them forever. It’s a gross scheme that some players will unfortunately fall into the trap of believing, although it seems most of the game’s audience were less than enthused.

The character and game have since been review bombed on digital platforms, with players making it clear this NFT nonsense isn’t acceptable and the developer should be ashamed of how it’s treated it with such a blasé attitude. Behaviour Interactive has since stressed that no important in-game content will be locked behind the NFT, although those who do decide to purchase it will be able to claim future collectibles at no extra cost. No gameplay is impacted by this business decision, it ultimately just feels like a gross way to turn a quick profit.

Developers no longer with the studio have since expressed disapproval of the NFT debacle, while others, including the designer of Pinhead himself, has said they had no idea it was going to be used for such a thing while it was being created. That’s extra grim, using the goodwill of an artist for a non-fungible token for monetary gain they will seemingly see nothing from.

Dead By Daylight Hellraiser

Behaviour Interactive has since come out and says it does not sell NFTs and no blockchain technology exists in Dead by Daylight, and there are no plans for such things in the future. It seems the Hellraiser Collection was organised with external partner Boss Protocol and incorporated into the game that way, so the studio can’t really play the innocent card and act like it wasn’t at all aware that these decisions were being made. Regardless of whether this is swept under the rug or becomes a defining aspect of the game’s legacy, it’s a dire sign that such a popular game is enabling NFTs so willingly, and I hope it doesn’t encroach upon the gaming space any further.

Steam recently banned any experiences focusing on cryptocurrency, blockchain, and NFTs on its platform, ensuring that it can’t be used as an economic battlefield to sell such things to a massive audience. Despite these barriers being put in place by major companies and fans being vocally displeased with the use of NFTs in any capacity, I can’t help but worry it won’t be enough to stop the big players from taking part. Epic, in response to Steam, has embraced crypto/blockchain games. As massive corporations and larger than life celebrities continue to celebrate the existence of NFTs to a following who might not be aware of their environmental impact, the more they will become normalised in our culture and contribute to a climate crisis we are still far, far, far away from fixing.

Dead By Daylight Hellraiser

Games are meant to be a form of escapism, but as they surpass the profitability of film, music, and other means of entertainment, they will inevitably become home to gross technological practices like NFTs, and so long as the most influential players on the field have control, there’s very little we can do to stop them. With any luck, the Dead by Daylight controversy will be a warning to larger studios and publishers that a similar move is unwise, and will only see them demonised by the masses. Video games, please do better.

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