You better not be trying to sneak NFTs into the PlayStation ecosystem, Sony

Sony have announced that they will be launching a new loyalty program for PlayStation platforms. Known as PlayStation Stars, the initiative supposedly “celebrates you, the player, for being on this ever-growing gaming journey with us” and is ostensibly designed as a means of celebrating 27 years of the PlayStation brand.

The intention behind PlayStation Stars is to allow players to earn rewards by completing various tasks, ranging from simply playing a PlayStation game at some point each month, up to winning tournaments, earning specific trophies or being the first player to achieve a Platinum trophy in a specific game in a particular region.

PlayStation 2s
Simpler times. How we miss them.

PlayStation Stars will be free to join and will provide its members with the opportunity to earn loyalty points. These can be redeemed in a catalogue that will include PSN wallet funds and “select PlayStation store products”. PlayStation Plus members will also receive points for their purchases on the PlayStation Store.

Doesn’t sound too bad, does it? A loyalty program is a good idea; I doubt there are many Switch owners who haven’t taken advantage of their Gold eShop points at some point or another, for example — though it’s a bit of a bummer than only PlayStation Plus subscribers get to earn points for purchases.

The concerning part comes in the next paragraph, though.

Also, as part of PlayStation Stars, we are unveiling a new type of reward called “digital collectibles”. Collectibles are as diverse as our portfolio of products and franchises. They are digital representations of things that PlayStation fans enjoy, including figurines of beloved and iconic characters from games and other forms of entertainment, as well as cherished devices that tap into Sony’s history of innovation. There will always be a new collectible to earn, an ultra-rare collectible to strive for, or something surprising to collect just for fun.

Uhoh. Something sounds a bit familiar about that, doesn’t it? That’s right; the term “digital collectible” is typically used to refer to NFTs as justification for their existence. NFTs are limited in quantity, the argument runs, and thus they are “collectible” — despite the fact they don’t actually exist and the way in which they are implemented means that you own a receipt for the thing rather than the actual thing.

To be fair to Sony and give them the benefit of the doubt here, they haven’t specifically said that these “digital collectibles” are NFTs, nor have they mentioned any sort of blockchain technology or indeed a means of trading or selling these items. If they’re simply something which supplements the existing Trophy system, then we’re all good here. But the concern is that the way in which these are being described makes it look very much like the company is attempting to stealth-introduce NFTs into the PlayStation ecosystem.

And, to be perfectly frank, given Sony’s baffling behaviour over the course of the PS4 and PS5 generations, it absolutely would not surprise me at this point to learn that they were attempting to introduce something that so many people are already vehemently opposed to.

PlayStation: The Last of Us

We are, after all, talking about a company that deliberately shuttered some of its most brilliant, creative Japanese studios in favour of churning out tedious photorealistic triple-A snoozefests and remaking the same game multiple times over the course of less than a decade.

We’re talking about a company who is locking its back catalogue behind subscription and streaming services rather than simply allowing straightforward ways for people to buy these games again — although in this regard, Sony are far from the only ones at fault.

And we are, of course, talking about a company who built a great reputation for permissiveness of adult content on the PlayStation Vita platform, before performing a complete about-face on this subject without any public explanation midway through the PS4 era — causing a massive loss of trust among what had been, up until that point, a very loyal audience.

Given the company’s clearly steadfast commitment to doing what the American shareholders want rather than what the PlayStation community actually wants, at this point I absolutely would not put stealth-introduced NFTs past Sony.

But it hasn’t happened yet. Here’s hoping we’re all pleasantly surprised by the outcome of this. PlayStation Stars will launch later this year, with a phased rollout across various regions. We shall see, I guess!

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Pete Davison
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