With the likes of Sega, Ubisoft and EA all looking to leverage the potential of 'non-fungible tokens' and blockchain gaming, it's inevitable that others will follow – and now it's the turn of industry veteran Square Enix.
The company behind the likes of Final Fantasy and Tomb Raider has actually dipped its toes into NFT waters previously. It recently collaborated with Double Jump Tokyo – a blockchain tech company – to create a series of digital assets for its Million Arthur franchise.
This venture was a resounding success, with the Million Arthur NFT set (launched on October 14th) already having sold out, so it should come as no great shock to learn that Square Enix is happy to ramp things up.
During its most recent financial presentation, the company referenced the venture as “a proof of concept for establishing what synergies we can derive by combining NFTs with our business assets," adding that “NFTs have high affinity with our assets,” and that the “proof of concept phase is over.” Square Enix is happy enough with this trial venture to report that it “will transition to [a] full commercialization stage" in the near future, which presumably means more NFT-related promotions, both in and outside of games.
So what's the fuss? Well, an NFT is a one-of-a-kind version of a digital asset. So for example, a digital art piece (which you would usually be able to share endlessly) can be "tokenised" as a way of making it unique. The token acts as a kind of certificate that cannot be copied, meaning that you could feasibly sell your NFT asset at a later date, complete with this authenticity.
For gaming, this could have massive ramifications for digital items purchased or obtained in-game. Items earned in-game would be part of 'the blockchain', which means even when the game's servers are turned off, you'd still own that item. You'd also be able to sell or trade that item with other uses online; the very nature of blockchain gaming means you could trade items across different platforms, which opens up all kinds of possibilities.
However, while NFTs, blockchain gaming and cryptocurrency are certainly hot topics right now – and could represent a massive area of expansion for publishers – they've had a lot of negative publicity thanks to the fact their creation often has a serious impact on the environment.