Metaverse, NFT Game Challenges Dominate DICE Summit

The opportunities — and responsibilities — of an all-encompassing digital world such as the metaverse dominated conversations at this year’s DICE Summit, a gathering of gaming industry professionals in Las Vegas that was the first major face-to-face conference environment since the start of the pandemic.

Game industry executives and even Avengers: Endgame co-director Joe Russo have preached that the game industry is on the cusp of defining the next generation of online worlds, even if everyone lacked specifics. Yet Laura Miele, EVP and COO of Electronic Arts, warned that the industry needed to create a more welcoming and diverse space before turning its full attention to the next evolution of gaming and social media.

When it comes to creating worlds, Russo said that everyone learns from the gaming sector. He talked about how Avengers: Endgame aimed to create an immersive world based on lore and a lot of movies that viewers could get lost in. The film, according to Rousseau, “doesn’t work without 10 years and 21 films preceding it. This does not work. “

The Metaverse, in Rousseau’s words, is “virtual worlds.” He said, “This is what we want to swim in.”

But step by step.

In a conversation on Wednesday morning, Mile referred to to the case against Activision Blizzard, citing reports documenting workplaces where sexual harassment is rampant and often goes unpunished, where women are paid less, denied promotions and retaliated when they raise issues with managers. She did not name Activision Blizzard by name, but emphasized that creating an inclusive, positive work environment is the first step towards a better, more thoughtful gaming culture and a task that needs to be completed before games turn to the “new wild west.” the metaverse and beyond.

“These are real stories, real people, and this is happening in companies in our industry,” Mile said. “Now with all the success, growth… and power that games have in the world, if companies can’t understand this and solve this burning problem, we can’t move forward and we won’t get ahead.”

Studio health was a major topic at DICE, where it was about what it looks like to be back in the office when the pandemic has changed work habits forever. Even talking about NFTs (or non-fungible tokens) and how online certificates that allow ownership of digital goods and so-called “play to earn” models can transform games has pretty much covered why this topic was met. with such resistance among developers in game studios.

“Contempt,” is how moderator Min Kim of Bonfire Studios summed up the early reaction from developers to the development of games that provide NFT functionality on the blockchain. The panellists tried to take a balanced approach, noting that there has not yet been a popular game that could show a mass audience why player ownership would create a better gaming experience, while also acknowledging that many of the early adopters have what is perceived as questionable. ethics, since the original games in space are built primarily on money-making or collecting schemes.

DICE speakers compared it to the start of free mobile games, which introduced a number of controversial mechanics, including loot boxes and their gambling nature, as well as endless microtransactions that can still sometimes cause controversy. “We’ve never seen a blockbuster game like this that changes the developer’s perspective,” said John Linden, CEO of Mythical Games. Linden used a collectible card game home as an example of a work that showed new possibilities for a particular genre, arguing that the NFT needed such a game.

But before worrying about new business models, Mile warned that the gaming industry needed to clean up its current model. Mile spoke of the need for internal introspection, but also preached the importance of striving to create safe and positive player communities.

“Let’s create real accountability,” Mile said. “Whether through our existing industry organizations or we are creating something new, we need to publicly track the progress of [diversity and equity] obligations. Many of us have worked together for a long time, and you know what? We don’t make games in our garage anymore. We have a huge amount of power and responsibility in this world.”

Mile spoke about two initiatives by Electronic Arts that she says have had a positive impact in creating a more open and welcoming gaming community, as online games are notorious for players displaying profanity and troll-like behavior. She singled out Respawn’s “Apex Legends” game for its so-called ping system, which allows players to communicate via in-game symbols rather than verbally. Miele said other developers can use EA’s proprietary inclusivity tools for free.

Another initiative the company has taken has been to deal with problem players more aggressively.

“We have seen that when players receive feedback on their behavior, many of them actually change it,” Mile said. “So, for example, 85% of Apex Legends players who received an email from us after they engaged in behavior that violated our Positive Gaming Charter no longer did so. We didn’t need to ban them, we didn’t need to punish them. We just sent them a little love note to remind them of the rules of the game. I still believe in the goodness of people.”

Worlds like the Metaverse have come under increased scrutiny since Facebook renamed itself Meta, but DICE cited a number of challenges when it comes to creating a welcoming digital universe. The challenges of social media and the spread of disinformation are yet to be resolved, and gaming communities, according to Mile, reflect the environment in which they are created. She urged the industry to look into their own home before building new virtual ones.

“Here we are in a unique position at the intersection of technology, entertainment and social activity,” Miele said. “All of you will have a great time this week discussing interesting topics such as NFTs, cryptocurrencies, blockchain and metaverses, but we also need to connect with humanity.”