Blockchain games to become "major strategic theme" for Square Enix

"By designing viable token economies into our games, we will enable self-sustaining game growth."

Square Enix president Yosuke Matsuda will make blockchain games a "major strategic theme" for the company in 2022 and beyond.

In a letter published on the Square Enix website, Matsuda outlined plans to continue exploring areas including AI, the cloud, and blockchain games as part of the company's medium-term business strategy.

Breaking down that what that actually means where the blockchain is concerned, Matsuda explained titles that "are built upon the premise of a token economy" are of particular interest to Square Enix, and indicated the company will look at bringing "viable" token economies into its games and would perhaps consider issuing its own tokens in the future.

Although Matsuda noted that blockchain technology has enabled "overheated trading" in the non-fungible token (NFT) space, resulting in a "somewhat speculative" emerging market, he believes there will be an "eventual right-sizing in digital goods deals as they become more commonplace among the general public."

"Be they single-player or online games, games have traditionally involved a unidirectional flow whereby creators such as ourselves provide a game to the consumers that play them. By contrast, blockchain games, which have emerged from their infancy and are at this very moment entering a growth phase, are built upon the premise of a token economy and therefore hold the potential to enable self-sustaining game growth," wrote Matsuda.

"The driver that most enables such self-sustaining game growth is diversity, both in how people engage with interactive content like games, and in their motivations for doing so. Advances in token economies will likely add further momentum to this trend of diversification. I see the 'play to earn' concept that has people so excited as a prime example of this."

According to Matsuda, being able to provide players with incentives to create and play by leveraging token economies will allow the Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest developer to bolster its community and drive engagement.

"From having fun to earning to contributing, a wide variety of motivations will inspire people to engage with games and connect with one another. It is blockchain-based tokens that will enable this," continued Matsuda. "By designing viable token economies into our games, we will enable self-sustaining game growth."

The Square Enix president finished by pledging to listen to those in the blockchain space while monitoring societal shifts to ensure it develops its own business accordingly. There was, however, no direct mention of the numerous crypto scams that have resulted in investors losing millions, or the negative impact cryptocurrencies can have on climate change.

Of course, Square Enix isn't the first company to wax lyrical about blockchain tech. Last year, Ubisoft launched its own NFT platform called Quartz -- although the backlash to that ongoing blockchain experiment was swift -- and EA described blockchain games as "the future of our industry" in an earnings call. 

The adulation hasn't been universal, however, and in October last year Valve told developers it would no longer allow titles built on blockchain technology onto its popular Steam marketplace.

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