Creator of Final Fantasy Committed to Web3 Gaming
As the cryptocurrency market continues to struggle and some gamers express skepticism about the use of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in gaming, Square Enix, the company behind popular franchises like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, remains committed to web3 gaming.
In his annual new year’s letter for 2023, Square Enix President Yosuke Matsuda explained that the company is “most focused” on blockchain-powered gaming and is developing “multiple blockchain games” based on original intellectual property. The company also plans to announce additional games later this year and is considering further investments in the blockchain space.
These efforts are part of Square Enix’s push towards Web3, which Matsuda noted has become a “firmly established buzzword” among business professionals. Despite the challenges faced by the industry in 2022, including the collapse of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, Matsuda expressed hope that blockchain games will experience a new stage of growth in 2023.
Square Enix has made a number of moves in the blockchain space in recent years, including the announcement of its first original game built on Ethereum NFTs called Symbiogenesis. Set to launch this spring, Symbiogenesis is described as a “digital collectible art experience” with storytelling elements. The company recently tweeted that the gameplay revolves around choosing whether to monopolize or share information with other players.
Square Enix has also announced that it will serve as a strategic advisor to Cross the Ages, a digital trading card game built on Polygon, and has invested in Bitcoin gaming start-up ZEBEDEE. In addition, the company invested in metaverse game The Sandbox in 2020 and revealed plans to revive its dormant Dungeon Siege property as an in-game experience in The Sandbox.
Last year, Square Enix also announced plans to release Final Fantasy NFTs via Enjin’s Polkadot-based Efinity platform. The NFTs are based on the popular game Final Fantasy VII and are tied to physical trading cards and toys that will be released this year. In May, Square Enix sold off three of its internal studios along with major franchises – including Tomb Raider and Deus Ex – to Embracer Group for $300 million. The publisher stated that the sale would benefit its growing push into blockchain games.
Square Enix is one of a few major traditional game publishers that have committed to growing the blockchain space. Ubisoft, the maker of Assassin’s Creed and Just Dance, has invested in and partnered with a number of crypto game studios and released the first in-game NFT items for a major franchise game in late 2021 with Ghost Recon: Breakpoint. Meanwhile, Take-Two Interactive – the publisher behind Rockstar Games and 2K Games, makers of Grand Theft Auto and NBA 2K respectively – has entered the NFT space through its casual games studio, Zynga. Take-Two also invested in Horizon Game Studios alongside Ubisoft, but Rockstar Games has since banned the use of NFTs on Grand Theft Auto V servers.
Web3 advocates believe that NFTs – tokens that represent ownership of unique items – can fuel decentralized, player-owned game economies and benefit players through the ability to resell items and potentially use them across multiple games. However, many gamers have resisted the rise of web3 gaming and NFT collectibles, citing scams in the crypto industry, simplistic gameplay for many early web3 gaming examples, and speculative demand that has driven up the prices of some NFTs to exorbitant levels.
Despite these objections, Square Enix remains committed to exploring the potential of NFTs and web3 gaming as a way to create new experiences for players. A sign of the rapidly evolving landscape.