Square Enix President Yosuke Matsuda has released a New Year's message reflecting on the past year and the future of gaming in 2022, and if his words are anything to go by, the metaverse, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), blockchain games, and digital token-based economies are all 2021 buzzwords that are “here to stay”. Starting with the metaverse, Matsuda said Facebook's decision to change its name to Meta demonstrates that the metaverse as a concept "is not a mere buzzword”. Matsuda said the metaverse will become more of a commercial product in 2022 and might end up having some applicability to Square Enix in the future.
"The metaverse will likely see a meaningful transition to a business phase in 2022, with a wide range of services appearing on the scene. As this abstract concept begins to take concrete shape in the form of product and service offerings, I am hoping that it will bring about changes that have a more substantial impact on our business as well," Matsuda said.
As for NFTs, Matsuda said this could become another significant business opportunity. Matsuda admits that most "play-to-have-fun" gamers aren't exactly thrilled by NFTs and metaverses. However, he concludes that NFTs and metaverses aren't exactly catered to them. He instead believes that advancements in these fields will lead to more incentives for “play-to-contribute” gamers, who he claims have had little to no incentive to create and contribute apart from personal feelings or self-expression. He also believes that breakthroughs in token economies and NFTs would add concrete incentives for players to create and develop user-generated content (UGC).
He expresses the "play to earn" concept as a "prime example" of how blockchain games and the "token economy" may one day enable "self-sustaining" growth. "Play to earn" is a term used by many NFT-based and blockchain games promoting how players can buy and sell their NFT assets back and forth.
Matsuda proceeds to acknowledge concerns about the “not ideal situation” of the NFT bubble, fueled by speculation and “overheated” behaviour in trading that was detached from the "observed value" of the content. He says he is confident, however, that an "eventual right-sizing" will occur at some point.
According to Matsuda, by designing viable token economies into its games, Square Enix can use NFT and blockchain tech to enable what he calls "decentralised gaming”. He hopes it becomes a major trend in games moving forward, and says that incorporating such decentralised games into Square Enix's portfolio will be a “major strategic theme” for the company in 2022. He also mentioned that Square Enix will "keep a close eye on societal shifts" in the space, listen to users, ramp up its efforts to develop a business around the crypto space, and potentially issue its own crypto tokens.
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