On November 21, we released an important announcement to the media: Ubisoft becomes the first Corporate Block Producer of Ultra.
This is an important step forward for us as a company to create the video game industry blockchain gold standard. Ubisoft joining Bitfinex, EOS NY and EOS Rio in this exciting journey.
This news generated a lot of excitement among our community members and many interesting questions emerged. That’s why we decided to host an Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Friday, November 29 with Nicolas Pouard, the Blockchain Initiative Director of the Strategic Innovation Lab of Ubisoft, and with our Co-CEOs, Nicolas Gilot and David Hanson.
How we proceeded
During a few days we collected your questions on social media (Twitter and Telegram) and selected a dozen of them to submit during the AMA. On the 29th of November 4 pm UTC, we asked the selected questions to our guests and we then opened the chat for a short session of live community questions.
Here is the transcript of the Ubisoft X Ultra Ask Me Anything.
Moderator: Can you start by presenting yourself, Ubisoft, and your role in this company?
Nicolas Pouard (Ubisoft): I joined Ubisoft Strategic Innovation Lab 5 years ago to work on World Consistency. Ubisoft is a 17k people company creating a games and building world for 30 years. The mission of the Lab is to explore the future of entertainment and gaming and to help Ubi to be prepared for major shifts or smaller but important trends.
Moderator: World Consistency?
Nicolas Pouard: As, at Ubisoft, we are world builders. We know the challenge of building huge and rich open worlds, especially how to maintain the consistency of our worlds. So, going back to my role within Ubisoft, I work on Blockchain for a bit more than 2 years now. A year ago, we decided to set up a team dedicated to Blockchain and DLT to explore opportunities Blockchain provides to improve players’ experience. So, basically, I’m the Blockchain Initiative Director 🙂
Moderator: Cool, when did you get personally interested in Blockchain? and why?
Nicolas Pouard: I started looking into it 3 years ago but I really got into it 2 years ago when I discovered that we could do something with it in games.
Moderator: What’s your take when it comes to Blockchain and gaming in general? Any personal vision to share on that point?
Nicolas Pouard: The first thoughts I have regarding Blockchain and gaming are that we are at a very early stage and we still have to learn a lot about all the opportunities that they both offer to developers and players. But what I’m really looking for is how it can improve the player’s experience.
NFTs are a part of the puzzle, but it’s just the beginning. Owning the game or the assets is a big deal, but it’s so new that we cannot envision all the consequences of it. The partnership with Ultra with help us a lot to understand what is coming.
I also wanted to add that we are not very interested in crypto and investment as a company.
Community: I have one question actually for you guys at Ultra: Did you know Ubisoft before? I’m asking because you have both offices in Paris 🙂
Nicolas Gilot (Ultra): We did, actually. Our CFO was the International Cost Controller of Ubisoft and worked over 7 years there. Our team also had interaction with Ubisoft on multiple levels over the past 20 years. Paris is a great place for innovation and video games in Europe, that’s one of the reasons we picked it for one of our offices.
David Hanson (Ultra): We’ve had the pleasure to meet Ubisoft’s CEO a couple of times. It’s always great to have cooperation between companies from the same industries as opposed to seeing each other as rivals. We’re looking forward to continuing building our relations and have the advantage to be a couple of blocks away from their HQ 😉
Community: What qualifies Ubisoft to be a block producer over other gaming companies?
Nicolas Gilot: Ubisoft is excited about the opportunity blockchain offers to the games industry, looking at the initiative they took like opening an incubator and incubating multiple blockchain companies. Ubisoft is worldly renown for their quality content and having them in Paris as well makes our communication ultra-smooth.
David Hanson: We intend to have a very fast blockchain. Having an unnecessarily large amount of block producers slows the block production down substantially. Therefore we rather have quality block producers over quantity.
Community: Does Ubisoft have other partnerships in the field of blockchain video games? and does it plans to build on top of Ethereum?
Nicolas Pouard: Yes, we have two other types of partnerships. We accompany many Startups in our Ubisoft Entrepreneurs Lab in Paris (Sorare, Azarus, …) and we also announced a partnership with Dapper, the creators of Crypto Kitties, who announced the creation of Flow, their blockchain.
About Ethereum, as I said earlier, we started working on Blockchain 2 years ago, and at that time it was the richest technology for building prototypes. We do not forbid ourselves to look at any blockchain except…. (I’m kidding).
Community: Ubisoft, happy to see you here and working with a strong Blockchain company but what’s in it for you? How do you define your opportunity and approach? What’s the immediate vision?
Nicolas Pouard: We are really happy to work with Ultra. They are a solid team, pioneers, and we know we will learn a lot by working with them. It’s one of the first strong Blockchain projects for users and not for B2B. We also want to know more about the community of gamers savvy enough to jump into Ultra.io once it will launch. Our approach stays the same as ever, we want to support the best projects in the ecosystem.
We have to pave the way towards new token standards (NFT, hybrid, etc…). Working with Ultra is a very good step toward that ultimate goal of an Oasis-like gaming industry.
David Hanson: Working on our NFT standard is paramount to Ultra’s long term vision of building a global ecosystem of dApps on UOS.
Community: What do Ubisoft think about EOSIO in particular, about the tech?
Nicolas Pouard: I follow Dan Larimer since SteemIt, with some people at Ubisoft we even participated in SteemFest 2 years ago.
At station F we work with Azarus, which relies on EOSIO. It’s a blockchain that solves a lot of problems like scalability. It also raises governance challenges, but I’m sure it goes in the right direction.
David Hanson: UOS’s unique governance angle intends to solve EOSIO issues to better fit the corporate world.
Community: Ubisoft has the Ubisoft Entrepreneurs Lab which is in season 4, which looks at 6-month time intervals with start-up companies. Season 4 has a major focus on Blockchain with 10 start-ups participating. Does this suggest the relationship between Ultra and Ubisoft be a rock-solid foundation vs 6-month contracts?
Nicolas Pouard: The support we provide to the startups is not at all the same as our partnership with Ultra. The startups we support are for the most part still early stage, while Ultra is about to launch a consumer product. Ultra is a platform that appears to be future proof, and that alone is enough for us to work deeply on that partnership.
Nicolas Gilot: We are working at the moment with one of the startups at Ubisoft’s Innovation Lab, Synaps, which is handling KYC/KYB, helping us to tackle some aspects of Ultra quicker.
Nicolas Pouard: Also, one of the values of our Entrepreneurs Lab is access to our ecosystem. As Ultra is now an actual partner, I look forward to seeing how the startups will interact with Ultra’s team.
Nicolas is right, Synaps is a very good example of how we are contributing to build a strong ecosystem together.
David Hanson: In essence, our collaboration is paving the way to making our blockchain solution mass market ready. This is a big endeavor and cross-company collaborations are helping to make this happen.
Community: Is a block producer in Asia planned? For example in China, South Korean or Japan? and can it be from the video game industry also?
Nicolas Gilot: Gathering support from Asia is important for Ultra as well, as one of our core partners is located in China. We want to make sure the lowest latency is achieved there by having a local BP.
David Hanson: We are planning to have a block producer based in Asia. A BP application process is being worked on to allow BPs from around to world to submit their candidacy.
Community: Can you comment on whether or not there are any major titles currently in development at UBISOFT that will leverage blockchain in a significant way, such as NFTs? Do you think 2020 will be the year we finally see significant adoption of the technology by gamers?
Nicolas Pouard: Creating a game takes time, it is necessary to harmonize the game development time and the pace of technological innovations. It’s a complicated puzzle and it is full of pitfalls. I know that my answer will not be satisfactory, but it is difficult to answer now. We are in the exploration phase with Ultra, we will see what the future holds for us.
With projects like Ultra, increasingly popular games like Gods Unchained, Sorare or Cryptokitties… Yes, I think we can say that the blockchain will be adopted on a larger scale in 2020. But for this to really be the case, we will need a much more complete ecosystem that cannot be built in a few months.
David Hanson: Ultra is a full spectrum video game ecosystem, it starts with video game NFTs, it goes to virtual item NFTs, and will expand into video game applications and services powered by UOS coins and our NFTs; tournament applications, betting applications, mini-games, blockchain-based games, etc. They are being developed both by Ultra and 3rd party software developers and who knows, maybe one day Ubisoft? 😉
Community: Can you talk a bit about the on-ramps and off-ramps that you will be using for UOS?
David Hanson: The piping on our blockchain tech is ready to support any on-ramp fiat solution. We are currently evaluating a couple of them and will make our final decision in the coming month to start with 1.
Community: Hey Nicolas! I am big gamer.. so I am very curious to ask about the microtransactions in Ghost, why did it seem like a mobile game?… if you manage to create an “Oasis” whats will you do to make the in-game rules, democratic? if at all?
Nicolas Pouard: About Oasis, it’s a huge question! But I’m passionate about governance off-game and in-game. How to model social relationships is part of the puzzle I was describing regarding blockchain value added for players.
Community: Can you tell us more about NFTs tech on Ultra? I heard many people saying that reselling games is not good business for game devs, what’s your take on this? Is it viable?
David Hanson: Ultra’s NFT is very flexible. It will be up to developers to decide how they want to set up their second-hand market strategy. There are ways you can set it up that are guaranteed to be profitable for game companies. For example, typically most sales of a game are done when it launches, our NFT has a parameter that enables you to limit resales until a date is reached.
Nicolas Pouard: The secondary market is challenging. Ultra will allow to frame the rules of the secondary market and I think it can be a way to allow it. But again it’s really new, we have to learn on that topic.
Community: I’m also deeply curious about how you will handle identities and reputations within the UOS system.
David Hanson: We have a scoring system that is yet to be leveraged fully. One way we currently leverage is related to the “promoter” fee anyone can earn from promoting games (typically influencers). UOS is capable of limiting promoter fees only to people with high influencing scores for example. This is typically an ability large video game companies might want to use.
Community: What do you think will be the first in-game assets that need to be tokenized? Do you think it’s possible to make specific items in the game designed to be extremely rare for example?
Nicolas Pouard: Everything is possible! That’s the core value proposition of NFTs so I hope to see rare and unique items on the chain in the future. What kind of assets should be tokenized first depend on the game and its fantasy.
Community: Why do you think your project needs Blockchain technology?
David Hanson: Its a very deep question, we have many different use cases that are impossible to do without Blockchain. A lot of it has to do with marketing, resales, second-hand market, NFTs, etc.
Community: How can developers & technical people contribute and how does Ultra plan to get them involved?
David Hanson: We are about to announce multiple events, hackathons and more, but also there will be a very deep developer program announced.
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