San Francisco-based game developer Zynga, best known for the FarmVille and CSR Racing series, has announced plans to release its first blockchain and NFT-based games this year.
The billion-dollar game studio first made waves in the crypto world last year after appointing 30-year gaming industry veteran Matt Wolf as Vice President of Blockchain Gaming to lead the company’s charge into the burgeoning industry.
Zynga has also announced plans to increase the current blockchain gaming team from 15 employees to anywhere up to 100 by the end of this year. The company may also soon fall under the umbrella of video-game colossus Take-Two Interactive, publisher of Grand Theft Auto which publicly announced a $12.7 billion dollar acquisition move set to close in the first quarter of 2023.
Speaking on the firm’s NFT based gaming plans with Axios, Wolf said that forthcoming blockchain-based games will be brand new titles, as it “doesn’t make sense” to start adding NFTs into existing games such as FarmVille straight away.
He said that players can expect the new games to look something like Mafia Wars, a now-discontinued social media game where players assumed the role of gangsters and worked to build up their crime family.
Zynga has been taking more aggressive steps into the sometimes-controversial blockchain-based gaming sector than many other traditional gaming companies. Hesitancy has been the common denominator from gaming studios as cryptocurrency-related features have often provoked a backlash from angry gamers.
Some players who’ve had NFTs added to their gaming experience feel that companies are just looking for new ways to squeeze money out of their customers.
Wolf has made it clear that the company’s game developers will always have the option to opt in or out of any NFT plans, a lesson he seems to have learned from witnessing internal protests against the technology at fellow gaming companies: EA and Ubisoft.
Despite the criticisms, Wolf sees NFTs and blockchain technology as the obvious next step in Zynga’s evolution with tokenized systems creating new and more realistic forms of value, ownership and wealth creation for gamers.
“By creating an integrated experience that enables players to become owners in their gaming journey, our goal is to expand Zynga’s audience reach and drive stronger engagement and retention,” he added.
Speaking to the New York Times, Wolf said that he’s acutely aware of the difficulties that NFT-based games stand to come up against: “It really is all about community… we believe in giving people the opportunity to Play-to-Earn.”