Square Enix reaffirms their belief in blockchain going forward in the latest public statement, despite backlash and criticism suffered in the last year.
Square Enix is a foundational pillar of the games industry, famed for titles such as Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, NieR, and a great many more. Despite suspicion from gamers over the value and role of blockchain in games, Square Enix has been public in their words of support for the technology and transparent in their actions.
This time last year, Square Enix’s President released their annual New Year letter and it contained comments about blockchain and the company’s intention to pursue it. This was off the back of a statement made several months prior, in 2021, when Square Enix released their strategy for a “robust entry” to blockchain gaming. The company then made varying moves into the sector with the likes of The Sandbox, but more interestingly, Square Enix sold Tomb Raider and Deus Ex IPs for a combined $300 million in an effort to free up funds for investment in blockchain gaming.
In last year’s letter, Yosuke Matsuda, President of Square Enix, wrote a fascinating section on the state of blockchain gaming and where he sees its value. I commented at the time that “Matsuda just seems to get it. His careful steps around Play to Earn (P2E) are comforting, but what stands out is his belief in the creator economy so many of us preach about.” Well, this year, blockchain gaming has a far larger part:
Multiple blockchain gaming events held overseas recently produced more active discussion than ever before about what makes the games exciting and what their user community looks like. The market was driven more by speculative investors than by gamers though 2021. In other words, the content that was at the forefront was created based on the premise that blockchain and NFTs should result in monetization. However, in the wake of the aforementioned turbulence in the cryptocurrency industry, there is now a trend to view blockchain technology as a mere means to an end and to discuss what needs to happen to achieve the end of delivering new experiences and excitement to customers. I see this as a very beneficial development for the future growth of the industry.
Our Group has multiple blockchain games based on original IPs under development, some of which we announced last year, and we are undertaking preparations that will enable us to unveil even more titles this year. We are also engaged in global sourcing from an investment perspective and will continue to take stakes in promising businesses whether we find them in Japan or abroad. Blockchain has been an object of exhilaration and a source of turmoil, but with that in the rearview mirror, we hope that blockchain games will transition to a new stage of growth in 2023.
— Yosuke Matsuda, President of Square Enix
Yet again, Matsuda gets it. We have had one of the worst years in crypto history and the vitriol toward blockchain in games has intensified. Nevertheless, blockchain gaming saw record investment that will likely top $10 billion, and more major games publishers and developers are taking note. Still, it would be naive to shake the over-monetization of gaming NFTs and the tokenization of gaming economies in such a way that the publishers benefit to an absurd degree. Yosuke Matsuda and Square Enix have the right sentiment at heart — blockchain technology ought to empower players, improve the gaming experience, and better develop a creator economy — and they look to be frontrunners for implementing that potential.