Peter Molyneux and his game studio 22cans is working on a blockchain powered “play-to-earn” video game called Legacy.
The director of pioneering games like Populous, Black & White and Fable, has a history of dreaming big, promising much and then being vilified as a huckster when things never really match his unrealistic promises, so going into NFT gaming seems a natural fit. It’s a match made in our dystopian hypercapitalist hell I guess.
Peter Molyneux was at the blockchain gaming event Galaverse in Las Vegas, where he announced a blockchain-powered business sim in partnership with Gala Games where players “build their very own business, designing their very own products from a huge array of possibilities as they create a business empire the likes of which the world has never seen!”
So…it’s a tycoon game.
Players design products and buildings, get their workers to build them, keep the workforce happy by building housing and amenities, and trade and compete in a player-driven open market. Regular events and competitions are intended to test your production, design, and town management skills. The first part of Legacy’s explainer post is surprisingly ho-hum cookie cutter tycoon gaming.
The special sauce? Blockchain tech and a new crypto coin. Sigh. The game’s economy will be powered by LegacyCoin, a new cryptocurrency on the Ethereum blockchain, which players will be using to buy Land NFTs to start your in-game business, trade for in-game items (NFTs of course, because virtual item variant # 25609 is unique and special and only you have this one recolored version of a thing), or for acquiring LegacyKeys to lend to other players who want to start an in-game business, turning them into your Business Partners in exchange. “As part of your association, they will share a portion of their earned LegacyCoin with you.” Which absolutely raises red flags in the part of my brain that’s had to keep an eye out for multi-level marketing / pyramid scheme FOMO sales pitches.
NFT gaming and Peter Molyneux seem like a natural fit, but reading through Legacy’s pitch, I can’t help but feel underwhelmed and frankly disappointed. Molyneux’s hype and pitches, at their best, felt like big dreams of exploring godhood and storytelling, religions and reactive worlds. By comparison, Legacy seems remarkably…prosaic with the dream of becoming a capitalist land baron in charge of their own company town replacing sweeping explorations of morality and story let alone godhood.
It’s a tycoon game that hitches its wagon onto the blockchain hype, weaving in the dream of “play-to-earn” to the mix, while fueling its in-game economy with a cryptocurrency fad that’s exacerbating the chip shortage and consuming wasteful amounts of energy and materiel for…scams, art theft, rug-pulls, and money laundering.
It’s a fad that’s not going away anytime soon, with traditional publishers like Ubisoft jumping into the bandwagon by introducing NFTs into Ghost Recon: Breakpoint, to widespread disgust.
Give us back hyperbolic over-promising dreamer Molyneux, the man who promised an acorn would become a tree in Fable and that you could carve your initials into that tree and see them years later. None of those promises came true, not even the one where you could kill a town by poisoning their water supply. But instead, twenty years later, we get the version of Molyneux that wants to set gaming and the climate on fire.