Crypto exchange FTX is launching a new team focused on driving cryptocurrency and non-fungible token (or NFT) adoption in the gaming world, according to a Bloomberg report.
The first offering of the new game unit will reportedly be a “crypto as a service” platform that will allow game publishers to launch tokens and support in-game NFTs.
“We are launching FTX Gaming because we see games as an exciting use case for crypto,” an FTX spokesperson told Bloomberg via email. “There are 2 billion+ gamers in the world who have played with and collected digital items and can now own them.”
FTX’s new gaming-focused team is a sign of the continued push to bring blockchain-based products into the gaming space, as evidenced by projects such as GameStop’s proprietary NFT marketplace. But while game developers and retailers see crypto tokens and NFT assets as a promising revenue stream, gamers have expressed widespread skepticism about the need for blockchain technology.
In the past few months, several game publishers have been forced to cancel proposed NFT projects after fan backlash, which has largely stemmed from opposition to new forms of premium downloadable content that are seen as offering little value to players. Other blockchain critics point out that there are already many established markets for in-game asset trading, leaving the value proposition of cryptocurrency links unclear.
Brett Harrison, president of FTX US, said: The edge that the company believes blockchain technology can build on existing game features without compromising the experience of players who are hesitant to adopt it.
“I think the response is mostly out of concern that the focus on cryptocurrency will divert game studios’ efforts from making the best possible game for the players,” Harrison said in an email. “We believe that blockchain technology will inherit features from games that already exist, such as in-game avatars, skins, and rewards, and allow players to own, invest and trade these items outside of the game. But the enjoyment of the game for all players, including those who do not want to participate in these types of economies, should always be the primary goal, regardless of whether blockchain technology is involved.”
For the FTX exchange, attempting to build partnerships with game developers is another part of its foray into the cultural space. The company was behind the recent launch of an NFT marketplace for the Coachella festival, where photos, posters and lifetime passes to the festival were sold as NFTs. Viewers of this year’s Super Bowl will also have seen advertisements from FTX, one of several crypto companies vying for the attention of football fans.
After closing a $400 million funding round in January 2022, the company has become one of the most valuable private crypto companies in the world and claims to be the third largest exchange in terms of trading volume.
FTX’s international operations were relocated from Hong Kong to the Bahamas in September 2021, citing the Caribbean nation’s favorable and comprehensive regulatory regime – although vacancies for the gaming unit are currently listed under FTX US, the company’s U.S. subsidiary. .
Updated at 1:25 PM ET to include a statement from FTX US.