Game publisher Konami is releasing NFT collectibles, starting with Castlevania.
Konami’s initiative comes following NFT moves from Ubisoft and Square Enix.
Major video game publishers like Ubisoft and Square Enix have dipped their toes into the rising NFT market, but they’ve received significant backlash from gamers. Still, that hasn’t stopped another legendary gaming brand from entering the fray, with Konami announcing its own NFT plans today.
The Japanese publisher will release a series of Ethereum NFTs based on its classic Castlevania series, marking the 35th anniversary of the storied video game franchise. All told, Konami will release 14 single-edition NFTs inspired by the game franchise, with some featuring classic gameplay footage and music, and others based on familiar franchise artwork.
The Castlevania NFTs will be released via the leading OpenSea marketplace, with auctions beginning on January 12. Konami will publish the nickname of each primary auction winner on its official website, should they opt into it. In a separate notice, the publisher writes that it “does not guarantee that the value of the NFT will increase after the purchase.”
This is the first drop in the Konami Memorial NFT series, an “initiative to create art NFTs” that doesn’t appear to have been designed solely for Castlevania-themed collectibles. Konami is also the publisher behind an array of other successful franchises, including Metal Gear Solid, Contra, Frogger, and Pro Evolution Soccer.
However, while Konami still holds the rights to many classic game franchises, it has significantly slowed down on creating new games in recent years. In 2015, Konami CEO Hideki Hayakawa announced that the firm would shift its focus to mobile games and create fewer of the larger-scale home console games that helped establish the brand.
An NFT is effectively a receipt that proves ownership of a digital item, and can represent images, video files, interactive video game items, and more. Some NFTs can be used in playable games, such as the Axie monster NFTs in leading Ethereum game Axie Infinity, and can fuel play-to-earn game models that reward players with crypto tokens.
Konami’s plans don’t appear to be quite so ambitious, however. The Castlevania NFTs are purely designed as collectibles and do not offer additional utility or announced integration within any video games. They also do not offer buyers any type of IP or commercialization rights, unlike the crypto-native Bored Ape Yacht Club profile picture collection.
Gaming meets NFTs
Ubisoft was the first established gaming giant to start playing in the nascent blockchain game space, creating a Minecraft-inspired prototype called HashCraft back in 2018 before launching smaller NFT experiments and supporting crypto gaming startups in the time since.
In December, Ubisoft then became the first traditional game publisher to launch NFTs that can be used in an existing video game, with weapons and armor for Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint on PC. However, the launch of the Tezos-powered items led to significant social media blowback from within the gaming community.
Despite complaints about the items’ utility and perceived environmental impact, Ubisoft ultimately went ahead with the launch, Didier Genevois, the publisher’s blockchain technical director, told Decrypt that it was a “major change that would take time” to resonate with players.
However, “S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2” game developer GSC Game World canceled plans to launch playable NFTs within its own game following backlash from franchise fans, while gaming-centric chat app Discord—also popular with DAOs and crypto communities—similarly halted crypto wallet integration plans after public pushback.
Game publisher Square Enix (Final Fantasy, Tomb Raider) has also signaled plans to release NFT-powered video games after first launching a series of NFT stickers in Japan, while the CEO of major publisher Electronic Arts called NFTs “an important part of the future of our industry.”
Despite recent blowback from players, crypto gaming advocates still believe that NFTs and blockchains will be rapidly adopted across the industry.
“Every single [game] studio I know of—from the largest, top company to the smallest—will have a product, if not many involving blockchain [in 2022],” Sebastien Borget, co-founder and COO of metaverse game The Sandbox, told Decrypt. “What this will create is the fastest and most adopted business model transition that we’ve ever seen.”