The article on ‘Ni No Kuni: Cross Roads Shows Why Crypto Gaming Doesn’t Work’ was available a week earlier through the Gamerbraves Newsletter. Sign up for free to gain access to more articles about news and trends in the gaming industry and community.
Ni No Kuni: Cross World was released on May 25th, 2022, soon after launch though, it was found that publisher Netmarble was implementing blockchain crypto and NFTs into the game.
And now the world of Ni No Kuni: Cross Worlds is currently infested with bots flooding the game. It’s quite the sight to see, that is if you can actually get into the game which is now plagued with log-in queues making it near impossible to connect to the server.
As you can imagine neither of these factors is particularly popular among the game’s player base, which can be seen when looking at all the 1-2 star reviews on the Cross World Google Play Store Page:
“Beautiful, UNPLAYABLE game!” says Shannon Marberry. “I love the storyline and the graphics but the game has quickly become impossible to access due to the number of bots on the server. Takes 10+ minutes in a queue just to open the game and I have seen zero communication from Netmarble on what they are doing about this. Also, the territe/crypto aspects which are not available in other versions are predatory and annoying but I could overlook that and enjoy the game if not for all the bots! It’s such a shame.”
The leading theory is that the bots are being placed by users with one goal in mind, to exploit the game’s crypto integration and farm as much currency as they can. They bog down the servers and make it hard for actual users to play.
Blockchain where it doesn’t belong
Ni No Kuni: Cross Worlds was generally well-received on its Global release. We actually reviewed the game at launch and gave it a good 7/10 score but this was before they added the crypto two weeks later. The action seems like an obvious ploy to make sure the crypto wasn’t talked about in the press or initial fan discourse. It’s a shifty tactic that shows Netmarble is aware of the negative reception surrounding play-to-earn mechanics.
This becomes a greater issue when you remember that Cross Worlds is a licensed game. The original Ni No Kuni console games made as a collaboration between Level-5 and Studio Ghibli were critically acclaimed by players.
While it’s completely possible that the license owners approved of the blockchain, it’s still in bad taste to insert blockchain and NFTs into such an established beloved series. Many fans wish to enjoy the beautiful Ghibli-style animation and Joe Hisaishi soundtrack only to be met with harmful crypto monetization. It actively makes people not want to play.
Asking For More Money To Fix The Problem
So now players cannot log into Cross Worlds due to the bots clogging up the server. This is the biggest problem plaguing the game that Netmarble should probably be working to fix. Instead, currently, the only way to fix the problem is for users to pay for more.
Players can bypass the log-in queue by spending $7.99 on the Adventurer’s Daily Pass. While it is possible that Netmarble could be working on a better solution, so far they are essentially asking players to fix a problem that they caused with more money. It feels incredible predatory and this isn’t even the first time they’ve done it.
Sportskeeda points out that Netmarble also published a game called Mir4 where the company also implemented blockchain. It also had a bot issue and the solution was a similar daily pass to skip the log-in queue.
It should be noted that the log-in problem has been handled better by other companies in the past. Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker also had issues with players queuing to log in. Square Enix’s solution was to temporarily suspend sales to cut off news players from attempting to sign up while they fixed the problem.
While it may be inconvenient to prevent new players from downloading the title, in the long run, making the game fully playable should be the top priority.
So if Netmarble is so sure about adding blockchain crypto to Ni No Kuni and their other titles, what do they add to the game that’s worth all of the negative reception and bot problems?
Well in Cross Worlds the crypto integration comes in the form of ‘territe’ which can be used to buy weapons and other items but can also be exchanged for cryptocurrency on the MARBLEX blockchain system. This allows you to buy items in some of their other games.
The game even has crypto pay-to-win microtransactions for PVP as Reddit user Tezoze (via GameRant) posted about the best weapons in the game being hidden behind a blockchain paywall.
The NFTs haven’t been released yet but so far the blockchain is more or less being used for in-app purchases which, like most blockchain mechanics could easily be done with regular microtransactions. Even the idea of a currency that can be used in other games has been done before through in-store currency like what Xbox used for years on Xbox live.
Why Blockchain Doesn’t Work
Ultimately Ni No Kuni: Cross Worlds show us exactly why blockchain crypto gaming does not work. It shows why so far pretty much every game that implements blockchain has been met with scandal, controversy, and closure.
I think it’s important to note that the Taiwanese/Japanese/Korean versions of Cross Worlds that launched earlier do not have any of the issues we’ve spoken about. No bots, no log-in queues, and the main difference between them and the global version: no blockchain.
It’s hard not to see crypto as the central cause of all the problems bringing down an otherwise well-made MMO. This is made even worse when you remember that it is all unnecessary. Every function the Crypto offers has been done before and done better in previous games without it.
Personally, if more companies insist on putting crypto into their games, I think I’ll be looking into other games. Games that I can actually log on to and start playing without any issues whatsoever.