Square Enix is one of the biggest and oldest developers in the world. They were also an early proponent of blockchain integration. Now the company is launching a new game that puts NFTs front and center.
A brave new world?
Square Enix’s President, Yosuke Matsuda waxed lyrical about the future of blockchain gaming in a recently released open letter. Matsuda acknowledges the contention around NFT gaming, but concludes that after “riding out social tides,” these technologies “become part of people’s lives.” Not only does he claim that the company is “most focussed on blockchain entertainment,” but he hints at a slew of new NFT-centric titles alongside the previously announced Symbiogenesis.
Symbiogenesis sounds like classic Square Enix. It features a self-contained world with a varied cast of characters. The game will be hosted on the Ethereum blockchain and function as a browser/mobile game. Characters and art will be collectible as NFTs, unlocking a story within the world and giving players a mystery to “untangle.” In essence, you’ll be able to put your collected NFT to work in the game’s world, giving it Metaverse-style utility. Symbiogenesis is also described as a brand-new franchise, illustrative of just how committed Square Enix is to a blockchain future.
A precedent for NFT games
The title will be a landmark for NFT gaming and not just because of Square Enix’s clout. Plenty of developers including Ubisoft and EA have previously dabbled with NFTs (players might collect a weapon skin or trophy, for example, with little utility), but quickly retreated after backlashes or the tokens slumping. Those NFTs failed because they feel like afterthoughts. Symbiogenesis is different because the game is built around NFTs, not the other way around. The company's focus is long-term: a genuine act of building.
If Symbiogenesis (and the other games hinted at by Matsuda) proves to be a success, expect lessons to be learned across the industry. Many gamers still consider NFTs as cynical cash grabs, but a virtual world with blockchain at its heart, where NFTs are deeply embedded within the gameplay, simply feels more genuine. Symbiogenesis' NFTs aren't money-making tools. They're in place for their creative rather than revenue-generating potential. The game and its digital collectibles go live in Spring, and they might just kick start a new era of big-budget, big-name blockchain games.