"Things are really frothy right now. So we're looking at the cycle and we're figuring out where we want to jump in, but we definitely have feelers out," an executive told Axios.
Zynga — whose titles include FarmVille and Words With Friends — also intends to go on a hiring spree.
Fifteen people currently work in its blockchain team, but executives want to expand this to as many as 100 people by the end of the year. A "tokenomics designer" is at the top of the wishlist.
Matt Wolf, the company's blockchain chief, told the publication that acquisitions would form part of its strategy — raising the prospect of the firm swooping in to snap up existing blockchain-based games. But he did strike a note of caution, adding:
"Things are really frothy right now. So we're looking at the cycle and we're figuring out where we want to jump in, but we definitely have feelers out."
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Farmville NFTs? Maybe Not
Non-fungible tokens haven't particularly been welcomed by gamers. Many of them see digital collectibles as a cynical ploy to attract more money from fans, without actually enhancing the experience. But the technology remains at an early stage, and some supporters find the prospect of being able to own and sell in-game items appealing.
Interestingly, Wolf revealed that the likes of Words With Friends and Farmville might not end up getting an NFT makeover — amid fears that it could confuse existing players. This means that the tokens will likely be integrated into brand-new games.
And crucially, it seems players will have the option to opt in and opt out of using the NFTs.
This approach could go some way to mending fences with gamers who are weary about NFTs. Part of the backlash companies have suffered is linked to the fact that these tokens have been integrated into popular, long-standing games.
To begin with, Zynga may target enthusiasts who are already familiar with NFTs, rather than those who are new to the space. Wolf added that many blockchain gamers are currently motivated by the thrill of trading items with others.
It's fair to assume that every major gaming brand has now looked seriously into NFTs — and whether these digital assets would fit into their portfolio. But given how the industry remains at a nascent stage — with clunky technology, poor usability, high costs and environmental concerns all in the mix — it's little wonder that companies are taking their time before making a commitment.
Companies also need a game plan for when they unveil their NFTs — and anticipate a potential blowback.
Team17 was forced to make an embarrassing U-turn just 24 hours after announcing plans to release non-fungible tokens inspired by the Worms video game franchise. Reports suggested that Team17 staff had voiced opposition to the plans — and a number of indie developers who publish through the company declared they would boycott the brand altogether unless it changed its mind.