In its New Year's letter for 2023, Square Enix president Yosuke Matsuda confirmed that the publisher would be "most focused" on blockchain entertainment and NFTs in its medium-term plans. While admitting that it was a "source of turmoil" throughout the year, he expressed hope that "blockchain games will transition to a new stage of growth in 2023."
"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," wrote Matsuda.
Matsuda's commitment is notable as during 2022, several developers announced NFT plans and not long after, reneged on those ambitions after player reception was unkind toward the idea. In other instances, studios danced around the player turnout of NFTs after fully embracing them.
The blockchain market has been through significant upheavals in 2022, including crashes and arrests. But for Matsuda, all of that counts as the technology receiving "significant recognition as a field in 2022, as evidenced by 'Web 3.0' becoming a firmly established buzzword among businesspeople."
According to Matsuda, Japan's government spent part of 2022 encouraging crypto and NFT businesses to thrive via NFT-focused study groups, in turn validating the studio's plans.
What does the future hold for NFTs and the game industry?
Towards the end of the year, the Final Fantasy publisher made strides towards integrating blockchain as a major part of its future business endeavors. It partnered with blockchain dev Oasys, and also announced its very first NFT title SymbioGenesis for a spring 2023 release.
And in its annual report from the end of October 2022, Matsuda flat out said the technology would be a "key part" of the business strategy going forward.
Even its mid-2022 sale of western studios Eidos Montreal, Crystal Dynamics, and Square Enix Montreal was part of the publisher's move to the blockchain space.
Outside of Square Enix, the attempts at getting NFTs into the mainstream games space haven't been entirely successful, at least in the west. But that isn't stopping other studios like Konami and Sega from attempting to make it happen in the near future.