In a New Year’s open letter, which you can check out through here, Square Enix president Yosuke Matsuda has talked about a whole host of new technologies, from extended reality to Metaverse to AI and lastly, blockchain-based technologies like NFTs. However, on the topic of NFTs specifically, Matsuda seems to have a rather interesting opinion.
Matsuda writes about how the general demographic of gamers who “play to have fun” don’t have any interest in NFTs, but he does believe that the use of this technology will give players who want to “contribute” much better incentives. In the letter, he acknowledges the reservations many have with blockchain-based technologies, but Matsuda believes that such problems will cease to exist when the technology becomes commonplace.
He also briefly touches upon blockchain games based around a token economy and the supposed benefits that come with it, and finally says that the company is keeping a close eye on these technologies with an aim to potentially issue their own tokens sometime in the future.
“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,” Matsuda’s letter reads. “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.
“However, with advances in token economies, users will be provided with explicit incentives, thereby resulting not only in greater consistency in their motivation, but also creating a tangible upside to their creative efforts. I believe that this will lead to more people devoting themselves to such efforts and to greater possibilities of games growing in exciting ways. From having fun to earning to contributing, a wide variety of motivations will inspire people to engage with games and connect with one another. It is blockchain-based tokens that will enable this.”
He continues: “By designing viable token economies into our games, we will enable self-sustaining game growth. It is precisely this sort of ecosystem that lies at the heart of what I refer to as “decentralized gaming,” and I hope that this becomes a major trend in gaming going forward. If we refer to the one-way relationship where game players and game providers are linked by games that are finished products as “centralized gaming” to contrast it with decentralized gaming, then incorporating decentralized games into our portfolio in addition to centralized games will be a major strategic theme for us starting in 2022. The basic and elemental technologies to enable blockchain games already exist, and there has been an increase in the societal literacy and acceptance of crypto assets in the past few years. We will keep a close eye on societal shifts in this space while listening to the many groups of users that populate it, and ramp up our efforts to develop a business accordingly, with an eye to potentially issuing our own tokens in the future.”
As you might imagine, the reception to this open letter hasn’t been the kindest on social media.
Head of Xbox Phil Spencer has previously talked about NFTs feeling more exploitative than about entertainment. Steam has also banned all games with cryptocurrencies and NFTs. Recently, GSC Game World also cancelled all NFT-related plans for the upcoming S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 following widespread backlash. That said, many companies in the space have explicitly expressed their intentions to pursue NFT plans- with Ubisoft being chief among them.