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STALKER 2 makers to auction NFTs for in-game NPC appearance

Apocalyptic game embraces the future of blockchain

A human faces the viewer with the huge cooling tower of a nuclear power plant in the distance
STALKER 2: Heart of Chernobyl launches April 28, 2022.
Image: GSC Game World
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

STALKER 2: Heart of Chernobyl will be the latest video game to incorporate NFTs, through a platform that will “let the community own a piece of STALKER 2,” developer GSC Game World said on Wednesday. Further, at least one NFT buyer will appear in the game as a non-player character.

STALKER 2 is due to launch on April 28, 2022 on Windows PC via the Epic Games Store, and Xbox Series X, where it will be available on day one through Xbox Game Pass. Wednesday’s news release said “the rights to certain unique items will belong to players,” and these virtual items can be transacted on the DMarket platform.

The NPC — GSC Game World calls it a “metahuman” — will be auctioned off in January. Those interested in STALKER 2’s NFTs may register for the item-drop auctions beginning this month. The in-game NPC will be “a part of the story and online experience,” says a listing on DMarket’s website. “Whether this will be a bartender, a comrade, or an enemy, the NFT owner will be there for everyone to see.”

The Verge, quoting a spokesperson, said this metahuman won’t be made with Epic Games’ MetaHuman Creator tool, which launched in early access back in April. DMarket’s website says that three NPCs will be available for sale and “a part of each meta human sold will go to charity.” GSC’s statement says that “the face of the real owner will be recreated in the game by using photogrammetry technology, resulting in the highest possible level of realism.”

GSC Game World calls this a first for AAA-scale video games, but it’s been done before. Richard Garriott’s Tabula Rasa MMO, for one, auctioned off an NPC appearance back in 2007, with the proceeds going to charity.

Additional item drops will go to auction in February, but GSC specified that all of these virtual goods are cosmetic and “won’t influence the gameplay itself or give in-game advantages over other players.”

All in all, the plans for STALKER 2 sound similar to what Ubisoft has in store for Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint, which Ubisoft also called a first for AAA video gaming. Players of that open-world shooter are now claiming free NFTs represented as in-world cosmetics, one of which is reserved for those with 600 or more hours of time spent in-game. Players with 100 or fewer hours can get some pants today.

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