Square Enix dive headfirst into the uncharted waters of blockchain gaming

Japanese publishers Square Enix are taking more steps to implement the controversial blockchain technology in their games. Squenix have teamed with blockchain company Oasys, who describe themselves as “environmentally-friendly”. This is because of their less energy-intensive “proof-of-stake” mechanism compared to “proof-of-work” methods such as those used in Bitcoin mining. Oasys’s plans fits with Squenix’s intention to develop tokenised economies built on blockchain in their future games.

Strange In Paradise is a strange entry in the Final Fantasy series indeed, as Liam and Ed found out.

Square Enix are just one of a number of games companies to invest in Oasys’s platform so far. Bandai Namco, Sega and Ubisoft are some of the biggies who’ve jumped aboard to invest in Oasys as “validators”. Squenix and Oasys say their deal will allow them to “explore the feasibility of harnessing user contributions” when developing new games on the blockchain. Oh happy day.

The deal between Square Enix and Oasys is the most recent move along Squenix’s very insistent blockchain journey. At the start of 2022, the company’s president Yosuke Matsuda issued a New Year letter that talked up fuzzy new-age tech such as NFTs, blockchain and the metaverse, along with the slightly more sensible cloud gaming. At the time, Matsuda and Squenix didn’t seem to know how they’d go about achieving that blockchain future. Mucking about with Final Fantasy 7 NFTs for the game’s 25th anniversary didn’t help matters.

When Squenix sold IP including Tomb Raider and Deus Ex to Embracer Group for $300 million back in May, a statement on the Japanese company’s website claimed one of the benefits of the sale would be launching “new businesses by moving forward with investments in fields including blockchain, AI, and the cloud”. The partnership with Oasys seems to be one of the first tangible moves towards whatever it is Squenix are hoping to achieve. I use the word tangible very loosely about blockchain.

I don’t fancy blockchain and NFTs much. They honk of an Emperor’s New Clothes mentality in the upper echelons of the games industry for one thing. The environmental implications of some of these technologies sound pretty bloomin’ awful too. Increasingly though, it seems that it’s just a matter of time until big publishers decide to shoehorn blockchain into their games. Time to take up curling instead, perhaps?

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