In an announcement that went live on New Year’s Day, the president of Square Enix put out a New Year’s letter supporting NFTs and blockchain games.
Not even a day into the new year and major developer and publisher Square Enix is causing controversy. Apparently not worried about the likely blowback from fans, Square Enix President Yosuke Matsuda has come out in support of NFTs.
The news broke this morning in a New Year’s Letter from the President posted to the News section of Square Enix’s site. There was no mention of any specific game in the letter, rather it was largely endorsing NFTs, blockchain, and the metaverse at large. In fact, the entire article is dense with language that has been dominating the technology and digital entertainment markets for the past year.
In his letter, Matsuda says that he views 2021 as “year 1” of the metaverse and NFTs. Based on the medium-term business strategy that was unveiled in May 2020 that identified AI, the cloud, and blockchain games as domains to focus their investments, Square Enix has been “aggressive in our R&D efforts and investments in those areas.” The proposed plan to expand into the blockchain game market “be they single-player or online games.” Rather than develop new IPs or games in this market, it is likely they will be implemented in existing titles, worrying players of Final Fantasy 14 and those anticipating Final Fantasy 16.
Square Enix has struggled recently with two notable losses and a gigantic success. Marvel’s Avengers and Outriders were met with mixed reviews and according to Square Enix itself, failed to meet expectations. Checking Steam’s reviews shows Marvel’s Avengers still has mixed reviews and Outriders largely has mixed reviews with the recent being mostly positive after the launch of the most recent patch. However, the unrivalled success is clearly Final Fantasy 14 and its release of the much-anticipated and well-received Endwalker expansion. In a weird twist, the success has proven to be too much as Final Fantasy 14 has been plagued with long login times due to demand.
The letter has been poorly received by the community and criticized as being tone-deaf. Twitter and Reddit are already up in arms and comments have been less than kind. Many are confused at seeing such a prominent company make such a move after the public lambasted Ubisoft for similar moves.
It would appear that Matsuda is laying of groundwork for potentially implementing NFTs and blockchain in upcoming or existing Square Enix titles. Much like micro-transactions of years past, it seems like those in charge of making large direction decisions are at odds with the actual developers and player base. But, unlike micro-transactions which are more common but still contested, adding NFTs to titles like Final Fantasy may be a bridge too far.