This past Tuesday, Sony shed more light on the first digital collectibles that will be available as rewards in their PlayStation Stars loyalty program. After looking at the offerings and their initial plans, is this a missed opportunity to harness the power and potential of NFTs?
PlayStation Stars and Digital Collectibles
During Tuesday’s State of Play presentation, Sony gave audiences their first look at the digital collectibles that players will be able to earn through the PlayStation Stars loyalty program.
The program, which was announced this past summer, is set to roll out in parts of Asia by the end of September. Other regions such as the US and Europe will follow in the weeks proceeding the initial launch.
The program revolves around rewarding players for completing campaigns that celebrate their gaming journey with PlayStation . Players can earn loyalty points by completing certain challenges. These can then in turn be used to purchase items from a special catalog that includes select PlayStation store products. In addition, players will be able to unlock digital collectibles (Not NFTs) for unlocking certain trophies (achievements) or completing campaigns.
These Aren’t NFTs
So in case we haven’t said it enough by now, this loyalty point system and the digital collectibles that go along with it have nothing to do with NFTs or Web3. So why the article then?
Firstly, I think it’s interesting to point out the adverse reaction to Sony in relation to NFTs and how they positioned the program. When the program was first announced, Grace Chen , PlayStation’s vice president of network advertising, loyalty, and licensed merchandise, had an interview with The Washington Post outlining the specifics of the program. When describing digital collectibles, she was asked if they were in fact NFTs. Her response was:
“It’s definitely not NFTs. Definitely not. You can’t trade them or sell them. It is not leveraging any blockchain technologies and definitely not NFTs” - Grace Chen, The Washington Post, June 14, 2022.
There’s no denying that Sony and the people at PlayStation have had extensive discussions regarding NFTs and where they fit in PlayStation’s current strategy. I’d also wager that the present mainstream sentiment regarding NFTs probably had more of a role in influencing their decisions as well. It could be as simple as PlayStation feeling that introducing NFTs into their ecosystem just isn’t a great move, at least not right now…
Is PlayStation Stars a Miss Without NFTs?
Just because PlayStation isn’t integrating NFTs into this iteration of their loyalty program doesn’t mean they won’t consider it at some point in the future. I think that the message put out by Sony and other outlets misses the point. NFTs aren’t just NFTs because they’re tradable and can be bought and sold. The main attraction in a collectible for many individuals is the ability to own it. Ownership is important, especially when we’re talking about collectibles that are integral to someone’s personal gaming journey and how they’ve interacted (and continue to interact) with PlayStation across multiple console generations.
I think that PlayStation understands this caveat very well. Late during the summer, they went to the trouble of surveying a group of people at EVO (an annual fighting game competition) about what NFTs they would be interested in purchasing. No matter how people feel about NFTs currently, companies are still going to look into areas like the Metaverse and NFTs in order to understand the market. We’re still early, and at this stage, it’s better for Sony to create a sustainable loyalty program and build it up with as little friction as possible…