Shortly after Steam suddenly banned non-fungible tokens (NFTs), Fortnite publisher Epic Games says it’s planning to allow digital collectibles in games sold in its online store — but not the ones it makes.
The about-turn comes only weeks after Epic Games’ chief exec Tim Sweeney trashed NFTs on Twitter: “We aren’t touching NFTs as the whole field is currently tangled up with an intractable mix of scams, interesting decentralized tech foundations, and scams,” he said.
As noted by The Verge, Steam’s parent company Valve recently added crypto to its list of things that shouldn’t be published on its online marketplace.
NFTs in video games come in the form of collectible items such as weapons and skins.
They have a real-world value outside of the game, can be bought and sold with cryptocurrency, and ownership is recorded on a blockchain.
No NFTs in Fortnite
Epic Games told The Verge last week that it’s “open to games that support cryptocurrency or blockchain-based assets.”
Separating its own software from its store, chief exec Sweeney set out some rules for third-party developers looking to publish games through the North Carolina-based firm.
Devs hoping to sell their NFT-powered games via Epic Games’ online store will need to:
- handle their own payments (Epic Games said it won’t be accepting crypto),
- comply with relevant laws and regulations,
- clearly signpost how blockchain is used.
The Fortnite developers also highlighted games containing NFTs games should be labeled with age-appropriate ratings.
The list of caveats suggests that it’s unlikely that blockchain games will feature in Epic’s online store anytime soon, as developers will need some time to adjust to the rules.
Not to mention, games are approved for sale on a case-by-case basis. According to its FAQ section, Epic operates a “Closed Beta” on-boarding procedure.
Steam, on the other hand, is less restrictive when it comes to self-publishing. Games can go live after a review period and a $100 publishing fee.
Epic Games chief now welcomes finance innovation
Epic Game’s new openness to NFTs follows earlier contradictory comments from chief exec Tim Sweeney.
In late September, Sweeney publicly rejected a pitch for a game that included in-game NFTs.
Sweeney said NFTs are riddled with scams and suggested Epic Games would be keeping blockchain games at arm’s length. In more recent tweets, Sweeney said, “we welcome innovation in the areas of technology and finance.”
Steam is the world’s largest online distributor of video games and Epic Games’ apparent change of heart per NFTs could suggest a bid for better market share.
Epic Games already undercuts Steam by 18% on its 70-30 revenue split between developer and publisher. Epic Games’ website highlights that developers “keep 88% of the revenue from your games instead of 70%.”
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