Square Enix president knows people who ‘play to have fun’ dislike NFTs, but he wants them anyway

President Yosuke Matsuda acknowledges skeptics, but hopes that blockchain tokens can “decentralize” gaming.
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— “January 1, 2022”

In a wide-ranging New Year’s open letter, Square Enix president Yosuke Matsuda has addressed a broad spectrum of technologies from the “metaverse” to cloud gameplay and AI, but the majority of the letter focuses on a personal enthusiasm for blockchain tokens. While Matsuda does not explicitly say that Square Enix will put NFTs in any specific game, he does say that the company is keeping a close eye on the technology and will “ramp up our efforts to develop a business accordingly, with an eye to potentially issuing our own tokens in the future.”

Most notably, Matsuda acknowledges that lots of people do not like the idea of tiny, persistent microtransactions becoming a fundamental part of their games. “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,” he writes.

Despite this, he is unreservedly enthusiastic about the idea that “token economies” will provide those who ‘play to contribute’ with an explicit incentive beyond “such inconsistent personal feelings as goodwill and volunteer spirit.” In short, Matsuda sees the creative contributions and user-generated content of gaming communities as something that’s insufficiently systematized and, presumably, monetized.

Despite these grandiose claims and desires, Matusda doesn’t provide any evidence or explanation of how blockchain and token technologies can actually implement his grand vision for “decentralized gaming” or “self-sustaining game growth.”

Response to the letter on social media has taken on a predictably acerbic tone, with that majority of people who “play to have fun” loudly voicing “their reservations” in a diverse set of ways. Some note that the tokenization of gameplay will allow concepts like “play-to-earn” to take hold in the gaming industry, while others question the environmental impact of blockchain technologies. Others, like our own Wes Fenlon, would like to remind everyone that the corporate vision of the Metaverse is absolute horse hockey.

In the letter, Matsuda only very briefly acknowledges one of those critiques, noting that “we do observe examples here and there of overheated trading in NFT-based digital goods with somewhat speculative overtones, regardless of the observed value of the content provided This, obviously, is not an ideal situation.” It’s a very understated, and perhaps naive, way to describe the almost wholly speculative nature of the cryptocurrency and NFT market.

Matsuda’s letter is not abnormal in the space of large public corporations, who want to be seen by investors as keeping up with the latest in what might affect their field. You can read the entire letter on the Square Enix corporate website.

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