Square Enix is betting big on NFTs to get gamers to do more than just ‘play for fun’

Square Enix is betting big on NFTs to get gamers to do more than just ‘play for fun’

The “metaverse” and NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are among the primary issues discussed in Square Enix president Yosuke Matsuda’s public New Year’s message on what’s ahead for the firm. Matsuda said that enterprises’ early attempts at NFTs were “overheated” and unduly speculative at times, but he thinks that firms would ultimately arrive at right-sized NFT solutions that the public will welcome. Meanwhile, Square Enix intends to use AI, blockchain technology, and NFTs to build video game experiences that allow players to do more than simply “have fun,” but also “contribute.”

It’s not as bad as it sounds, but it’s also not as non-evil as it might be

It’s essentially a long and convoluted way of expressing that the corporation wants to provide users the ability to produce user-generated content with added value.

Yosuke Matsuda’s Square Enix New Year’s message highlight:

… 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. 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.

I realize that some people who “play to have fun” and who currently form the majority of players have voiced their reservations toward these new trends, and understandably so. However, I believe that there will be a certain number of people whose motivation is to “play to contribute,” by which I mean to help make the game more exciting. Traditional gaming has offered no explicit incentive to this latter group of people, who were motivated strictly by such inconsistent personal feelings as goodwill and volunteer spirit.

This fact is not unrelated to the limitations of existing UGC (user-generated content). UGC has been brought into being solely because of individuals’ desire for self-expression and not because any explicit incentive existed to reward them for their creative efforts. I see this as one reason that there haven’t been as many major game-changing content that were user generated as one would expect.

In the end, whether at Square Enix or elsewhere, AI, blockchain technology, and NFTs are here to stay for the foreseeable future, but the real consequences they will have remain to be seen. This is a Wild West age for budding new technology, and there will be a lot of costly and stupid mistakes along the road. But, whether we like it or not, someone will ultimately find out how to make this technology function.

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