The market for non-fungible tokens is currently struggling following the unprecedented "crypto winter" that has currency prices crashing, companies collapsing and even some founders literally on the run. For those developers who were hoping to break into the burgeoning blockchain gaming market, now is not a great time.
In fact, a vast majority of U.S. gamers don't have very much interest in the NFT market, according to survey data from market research firm YouGov and consultancy Globant.
The firms surveyed 1,000 Americans aged 18 and up who played at least three hours of console, PC or mobile games (though not mobile-only players) and found that 81% of them had never purchased an NFT. Only 40% of those surveyed said they were interested in both "playing" and "earning" aspects of the metaverse and blockchain gaming. Slightly more, about 53%, said they would work inside a gaming platform if it meant earning currency for their labor.
NFTs, and by extension the play-to-earn elements inherent to some blockchain gaming platforms like Axie Infinity, are key pillars of Web3; proponents say they could revolutionize gaming by introducing elements like interoperability and the buying and selling of digital assets. But the technology remains unpopular and untested in mainstream gaming products, and NFT sales are experiencing a record crash, Bloomberg reported last month. It remains to be seen how either traditional game makers can make NFTs work in well-known brands, or how Web3 firms might be able to break out of their crypto niche and reach everyday gamers.
A number of traditional game makers have expressed interest in NFTs and the blockchain, most notably Ubisoft, which trialed NFTs in a version of its Ghost Recon series but quickly shuttered the project roughly six months later following widespread backlash. Struggling retailer GameStop, which last week fired its CFO and announced layoffs at its corporate offices, launched an NFT platform in beta this week, with hopes it refashion its brand into a crypto-first retailer that can turn gamers into Web3 enthusiasts.
But GameStop and others might have an uphill battle given just how little exposure and interest everyday players have in engaging with Web3 tech and products. YouGov and Globant's survey has a few other telling data points in its survey results. 73% of gamers associate the metaverse with Facebook parent company Meta, as opposed to just 27% associating the metaverse with Fortnite maker Epic and 21% with Roblox. Just 35% of gamers are comfortable with advertising in the metaverse, while just 40% of gamers think the buzz around the metaverse is warranted.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the percentage of players associating the metaverse with Epic. This story was updated on July 13, 2022.