Penthouse looks at film and gaming this month as microcosms in the post-Pandemic entertainment world.

Gaming & Film: As the Pandemic Wanes

Gaming 2022: NFTs in Video Games

NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are the latest trend in the world of art. They can cost as little as 0.1 ETH ($327) for a less-than-popular creation, to much more than 52 ETH ($170,000), the entry point for a highly sought-after Bored Ape NFT.

Beyond their artistic and monetary value, which is undoubtedly dictated by market demand and hype, NFTs are being considered for use in video games by executives at Ubisoft, Electronic Arts and Square Enix.

Video games have long featured a sort of prototype of NFTs in the form of skins and other aesthetics in titles like Fortnite, Call of Duty and Valorant, where players can spend hundreds of dollars dressing up their avatars.

However, unlike NFTs, these digital items hold no value — inherent or otherwise — and they can’t be traded in most titles. Their availability is more or less unlimited.

While many mock NFTs for being little more than limited edition JPEGs, their value exists on the blockchain, where they can be traded back and forth while earning the original artist royalties for his or her production.

Like it or not, it’s the future of art — and it isn’t solely determined by hype. The investment of numerous corporations, including Facebook’s Meta, in the development of the metaverse, and smarter NFTs that are made up of more than just images, could potentially extend their expiration date.

The future of NFTs isn’t in Bored Apes or algorithmically generated profile pictures. Instead, they offer much greater potential in the metaverse, where an NFT could literally be a room environment populated by numerous interactive objects — or even a full-fledged virtual avatar for use in a video game — or even a Pokémon that can gain experience, skills and be fully customizable. An NFT can be anything virtual.

For their implementation in video games, being limited in availability gives them a leg up over the typical microtransaction by offering players a new way to invest their time and money. Instead of buying custom cards in Hearthstone, how much cooler would it be if Activision Blizzard turned the game into a full-fledged trading card game? Players, many of whom are already eager to collect virtual cards that can’t even be traded, would certainly embrace the ability to monetize their accounts and trade their virtual possessions to other players and engage in a digital economy.

Given that NFTs are stored on a blockchain and not a centralized server, each of these items cannot be duplicated or counterfeited. Each item is unique and holds value.

And instead of paying for loot crates or season passes, players could equip and trade their aesthetics on a virtual marketplace with NFTs for their characters in games like Call of Duty and Overwatch — and potentially carry them over to future titles, or display them outside the games themselves on a metaverse client capable of translating their digital possessions.

That said, NFTs are not without their downsides. The technology is ripe for abuse, and as knowledgeable consumers, we cannot trust video game publishers to always do the right thing. Greed trumps all, and the implementation of NFTs could very easily be used to lock away exclusive content and otherwise deprive players, who’ve already paid a lump sum to buy the game, of gated content.

Imagine the pay-to-win games on mobile phones — which are the best example of greedy microtransactions — becoming more mainstream, and video games stop being about having fun and more about being able to empty your wallet faster than your opponents.

There’s also the possibility of scams. Without a unifying currency, or payment standard, many of these NFTs would depend on unreliable tokens pushed by publishers and studios intending to make a quick buck rather than foster a viable economy. An EACoin or a FortniteCoin isn’t going to be worth anything outside the games these publishers develop.

It may be years before the industry comes to terms with NFTs and implements them in ways that aren’t exploitative. As for now, any implementations for the technology are premature at best and are cash grabs at worst.

Collecting and showing off your collections certainly isn’t for everyone. It’s for a specific group of people, but it’s one that NFTs highly appeal to, and one that the game industry would not do well to neglect.

Of course the counterpoint would be: Anything purely digital can be duplicated — perfectly. So, y’know … maybe we can trust Hollywood instead.

Film 2022: The sequel to 2021

A meme made the rounds at the end of 2021, which said: “Nobody claim 2022 as ‘your year.’ We’re all going to walk in real slow. Be good. Be quiet. Be cautious. Don’t touch anything.”

It seems the film industry felt very much on board with that ethos and entered 2022 with extreme stealth and a “don’t rock the boat” mentality.

In the wake of two years of COVID-19, the whole world has ended up being conservative and playing it safe. A sense of fearing the unknown has become the norm–and maybe we’re all looking for a hero, too.

In 2021, Marvel absolutely dominated the box office, taking five of the top six spots with various franchises. Only Fast & Furious 9 (yes, nine!) broke on at No. 5, with No Time to Die, the best James Bond film in years — and possibly ever — coming in at No. 7.

Expect more of the same this year, with Marvel to continue pumping out blockbusters: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Thor: Love and Thunder, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Ms. Marvel, Moon Knight, She-Hulk, another Spider-Man outing, and a Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special.

Don’t forget DC Comics’ biggest name, either. The Batman will be the latest movie installment of the Dark Knight’s adventures — featuring Robert Pattinson as the Caped Crusader, Colin Farrell as The Penguin, and Paul Dano as The Riddler — and will no doubt make for compelling viewing.

If you’re feeling a sense of déjà vu, then mention of The Matrix, Jurassic Park and Top Gun should get your ’80s and ’90s juices well and truly flowing. The Matrix Resurrections is perhaps the most interesting sequel, with the themes it covers more relevant than ever. In some areas, timing of restrictions may likely mean the unvaccinated can get to the theater to watch it — and may make up a fair portion of the audience. The red pill or the blue pill?

Top Gun: Maverick has been waiting in the wings for a couple of years due to COVID, much as the Bond film did. You can’t help feeling cheesiness is on the way, but hey, we like cheese and we like Top Gun. Jurassic World: Dominion will no doubt ramp up CGI effects to newly found heights, as will Avatar 2.

Remakes of Death on the Nile and West Side Story are also worthy of a mention, although not necessarily a viewing, as is the sequel to Sing (Sing 2) and the prequel to the Kingsman franchise (The King’s Man).

Forget innovation and quirkiness — although you will be able to find some, if you look hard enough — and enjoy high-quality familiarity on the big screen as a comfort to the craziness we’re dealing with in the real world at the moment.

Everybody stay calm, sneak into 2022 and watch a bunch of stuff at the theater that isn’t going to shock you. And (whisper it) all being well, we can go completely crazy in 2023.

Whatever else the Pandemic did, it fundamentally changed the world, and we still have not quite come to grips with what that means or how it will play out. At the risk of being overly political and risking the wrath of Our Local Brand Police, we will say this about the next couple of years with absolute certainty: No matter how crazy 2023 turns out to be, 2024 will rock some foundations one way or another.People may start talking about 2024 on November 9th of 2022. You’ll see.

Film NFT 2024 - In Reverse

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