Square Enix President, Yosuke Matsuda, last year made waves by revealing the company’s push towards blockchain and NFT technology – a stance that hasn’t sat well with fans in the months since.
Surprisingly then, Matsuda has once again used his “New Year’s Letter from the President” to plug his and Square Enix’ enthusiasm for everything Web 3.0, even going so far as to suggest that the recent volatility and uncertainty in the market will be a benefit to their future plans.
You can read the full address right here, but there are a couple of crucial quotes that truly paint a picture of what the company’s sentiment is towards NFTs and blockchain in gaming, starting with Matsuda’s belief that tightened regulations globally as well as government support within Japan will help reduce confusion and normalise the technology in the public eye.
“In the wake of these developments, we hear rumblings from some countries of early moves to regulate such businesses more strictly. In Japan, meanwhile, the drive to encourage such businesses has gained momentum, led by the government. In June 2022, the Japanese cabinet signed off on a plan called the “Priority Policy Program for Realizing a Digital Society,” which includes wording regarding the creation of an environment for promoting the Web 3.0 concept, including the use of NFTs based on blockchain technology. Japan’s Digital Agency also launched a Web 3.0 study group.
New technologies and frameworks lead to innovation, but they also create considerable confusion. Having ridden out such societal tides, some such technologies and frameworks gradually become part of people’s lives, eventually giving rise to new businesses and growth. Following the excitement and exhilaration that surrounded NFTs and the metaverse in 2021, 2022 was a year of great volatility in the blockchain-related space. However, if this proves to have been a step in a process that leads to the creation of rules and a more transparent business environment, it will definitely have been for the good of the growth of blockchain entertainment.”
Matsuda also goes on to say that the aggressive focus on monetisation of NFTs and blockchain in gaming will take a backseat to how the technology can provide a “means to an end” after a year where the arse has pretty well fallen out money-wise, and reveals that the company has even more blockchain-based projects in the works than we currently know about.
“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.”
Most recently, hype for a new Parasite Eve project titled “Symbiogenesis” was soured when it was revealed to be an NFT-based collectible art experience, and Square Enix also started selling more expensive “Digital Plus” versions of its popular Final Fantasy Bring Arts action figures that come with blockchain-based certificates of authenticity.
What’s made clear in this letter, and doubly so given the total lack of mention of any of its big-ticket 2023/24 game releases like Final Fantasy XVI and Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, is that Square Enix sees these initiatives as a key component of its strategy going forward. Time will tell if that proves financially fruitful for the company, but at this stage it’s still going to be difficult for fans of its video games to see how any of this will benefit them in the short or long term.