The head of GTA parent company Take-Two has shared his thoughts on two of the most buzzworthy topics in technology right now: the metaverse and NFTs. Speaking to GI.biz, Strauss Zelnick said the metaverse is already here, with GTA Online being a good example of it, while he said he is a “big believer” in NFTs and how they could shake things up in the gaming world. EA’s CEO, Andrew Wilson, also recently touched on the subject of NFTs (more on that below).
Starting with the metaverse, Zelnick said he’s skeptical about the metaverse if it’s defined as “everything we do in the world physically will become digital.” Zelnick observed that the pandemic has led people more and more to digital worlds, and now they want to get back out and explore the real, physical world, and that’s why he doesn’t buy into the metaverse as an all-encompassing, Ready Player One-like experience.
“I don’t believe you’re going to wake up in the morning, go into a dedicated room, sit in a dedicated chair, strap on a headset and do absolutely everything at home that you currently do out in the world,” Zelnick said. “I think all of us found in the pandemic that we spend way too much time doing that as it is.”
Zelnick went on to say that Take-Two already runs multiple metaverses in games like GTA Online, Red Dead Online, and NBA 2K where players can enter fantasy realms and become a different person. And Take-Two is reaping the benefits, too, with cash flowing in. “If there is a metaverse company out there generating real revenue and real earnings, that would be us. We would probably be the no.1 company that’s actually doing it already,” he said.
“If, however, you define metaverse as an engaging digital landscape where you can present yourself as an avatar, where you can talk to people and hang out with people, where you can bicycle, surf, motorcycle, drive, compete, tell stories, be told stories, have live events, sit at a casino table… well then we already have metaverses here at Take-Two and I would argue we have the biggest and best metaverses that exist with Grand Theft Auto Online, Red Dead Online, and NBA 2K’s online version,” Zelnick said.
As for NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, Zelnick is very optimistic.
“If you believe in collectible physical goods, I don’t know why you wouldn’t believe in collectible digital goods,” Zelnick said. “And blockchain authorization, which is what an NFT really is, is one way–not the only way–to authenticate the fact something is singular is rare.”
NFTs get a bad rap, Zelnick said, because some have sold for gargantuan markups–but this is not representative of what NFTs are really all about, as Zelnick sees it. “NFTs, because they’re related to the blockchain as currently contemplated and because some have gone for a lot of money, are seen by some as just another opportunity to invest in a speculation that some think will only go up. And speculations don’t just go up; they come down too,” he said.
Zelnick is not alone in his optimism about NFTs. EA CEO Andrew Wilson recently discussed NFTs during the company’s earnings call, saying NFTs could be another way to “add value” to EA’s games.
“I think the play-to-earn or the NFT conversation is still really, really early, and there’s a lot of conversation. And there’s at some level, a lot of hype about it,” Wilson said. “I do think it will be an important part of our–of the future of our industry on a go-forward basis. But it’s still early to kind of figure out how that’s going to work.
“What we know about collection over time is the collectibility is far more valuable to the collector where the collected item has utility. And I think that in the context of the games that we create and the live services that we offer, collectible digital content is going to play a meaningful part in our future,” he added. “So still early to tell, but I think we’re in a really good position, and you should expect us to kind of think more innovatively and creatively about that on a go-forward basis.”