On New Year’s Day, Square Enix president Yosuke Matsuda posted a letter online that shared excitement for the metaverse, NFTS, Blockchains, and more, detailing plans to incorporate them into company plans for 2022. This spread like wildfire online, upsetting many Square Enix fans, but the stock market and the fan base are two completely different entities.
It should first be noted that many were understandably upset with Square Enix. NFTs have been both a point of contention and controversy since the term was coined, but some language in the letter didn’t quite land as well. Matsuda wrote that he realized “some people who ‘play to have fun’ and who currently form the majority of players have voiced their reservations toward these new trends.” Many have taken this to mean that gaming for fun just isn’t simply enough.
The embracing of NFTs and this specific language has not gone unnoticed online, with Final Fantasy 14 players begging Square Enix not to embrace NFTs. Now, in a new report from Bloomberg, it’s been revealed that Square Enix’s stock jumped by 8% on the first day of trading after the letter was published (Tuesday in Tokyo). This constitutes the biggest jump in Square Enix shares since August, according to Bloomberg’s report.
In contrast to the ‘play to have fun’ comment above, Matsuda believes there are some people whose motivation is to ‘play to contribute’ “by which I mean to help make the game more exciting…[t]raditional gaming has offered no explicit incentive to this latter group of people.” It’s uncertain how this would come into practice, but one online comparison seems worth sharing.
Crudely, it’s that NFTs in MMOs, potentially games like Final Fantasy 14, wouldn’t really be as incentivizing as some may think. If one MMO player sees another with a certain set of armor right now, they know what they have to do (quests, etc.) to obtain that armor for themselves. Seeing someone with a set of armor with NFTs in play could just suggest that they are well-off, financially, and basically incentive actual play.
Regardless of how that comparison holds up with Square Enix’s plans, it currently seems like a double-edged sword: shareholders like it, players don’t. NFTs in gaming have drawn all kinds of results thus far, with Ubisoft’s CEO claiming they’re here to stay (but NFTs in Ghost Recon not selling well). Stalker 2‘s developer intended to include them until fan backlash hit back, pulling back plans on the feature in just two days. On NFTs, It Takes Two creator Josef Fares said he would rather get shot than put them in games. At the end of the day, it remains to be seen what truly comes of this trend.