When Ubisoft revealed in early April that it was winding down support for Ghost Recon Breakpoint a little more than two years after its initial release, it also meant winding down Ubisoft’s messy first foray into the world of cryptocurrency through NFTs. As part of that process, the company issued 50 “developer caps,” employee-specific NFTs, to mark the occasion.
In late 2021, Ubisoft became the most high-profile major video game company to mess around with NFTs, announcing it would mint (A.K.A. create) a bunch of exclusive items for Ghost Recon Breakpoint. The initial reaction was a combination of vitriol, mockery, and general confusion, and there wasn’t much evidence people were all that interested in them besides a few thousand folks claiming their free tokens.
49 employees currently are holding onto their developer cap NFT. But one of them sold.
On April 13, a little more than a week after Ubisoft distributed the employee NFTs, it was listed on the Rarible marketplace for 80 XTZ, roughly the equivalent of $255 USD. (XTZ is the currency on the Tezos blockchain.) Less than 24 hours later, it’d been purchased.
“I wanted to collect all the digits [Ubisoft’s name for its NFTs] hoping they will reward holders in the long term,” said an NFT collector Yalexis Santiago, a 26-year-old graphic designer who lives in Puerto Rico, in an interview with Waypoint.
It’s unclear who sold the NFT, but a Ubisoft spokesperson told Waypoint the NFTs were a gift and thus “there were no restrictions for employees who received one to sell or trade them.”
In total, Santiago said he’s currently spent more than 240 XTZ—more than $700 USD—to acquire every one of the seven NFTs that Ubisoft produced for Ghost Recon Breakpoint, which largely involved otherwise generic-looking weapons and armor with a unique number.
“In my early days I used to be a gamer and seeing that Ubisoft took the initiative to introduce NFTs I was pretty excited as an investor/former gamer,” said Santiago.
The initial slate of NFTs were acquired on a first come, first serve basis, though the company had a handful of requirements, like having played the game for a few hours and preventing people from claiming multiple copies of the same variation of NFT. You aren’t required to list them as available for trade or purchase. Which meant that when Santaigo wanted one specific item, the Wolf Enhanced Helmet A, he was forced to jump through some hoops.
“I literally went to every social platform/forum to try to find a player to sell me the item,” said Santiago, “and after a few weeks I got lucky and found a Brazilian player and I communicated with him via a translator app. He was happy to sell me the item as he didn't understand the NFT world or supported [them] at all. I'm kinda sad that the majority of gamers don't support NFTs or get it at all.”
Santiago undersells the amount of pushback NFTs and other aspects of cryptocurrency have experienced around video games. Developers recently told Waypoint about internal fights happening at various companies attracted to the amount of money and attention around crypto, while polls of game developers suggest most are broadly against the idea itself.
Most people who owned, or at one point owned, a Ghost Recon Breakpoint NFT told me they hadn’t used it in-game, and this is also true of Santiago. A technical quirk appeared after connecting his Ubisoft account with his Epic Games account, somehow locking him out of access to his NFTs in the game, he said. (He still “owned” them on the blockchain, this was just about using them in the game itself.) Recently, he was able to recover access to them, and while Ubisoft isn’t shutting down the game’s servers, they’re no longer adding new content. Most players will move on.
Santiago remains hopeful, though, believing NFTs can be part of the “future of gaming,” and Ubisoft has stated that it intends to continue experimenting with NFT and video games.
Right now, Santiago has the hat available for sale for 696,969 XTZ—or $2,028,179 USD.