Square Enix Thinks Games Shouldn’t Only Be About Having Fun, They Should Offer Incentives Like NFTs

PS4 & PS5

Square Enix president Yosuke Matsuda penned the company’s annual new year’s letter to fans and stakeholders over the weekend, and this one’s been getting panned left and right since it was published. Read the first two paragraphs of the letter, and you’ll understand why. It reads like a collection of bizarre, random thoughts in a promotional leaflet for “metaverse, blockchain, crypto, and NFTs.”

To address the elephant in the room first, yes, the house of Final Fantasy decided as early as May 2020 that “blockchain games” is one of the new trends that it wants to invest in. But Square Enix seems perplexed by the gaming community’s response to NFTs, especially after Ubisoft announced its Quartz platform. According to Matsuda, “some people play to have fun” but there’s a group of people who simply want to “play to contribute” and this latter group can help make games more “exciting.” How? We’re glad you asked.

In Matsuda’s words:

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.

What Matsuda’s saying here is that all the user-generated content that we see in games is born out of gamers’ passion for, and interest, in a specific game (or games). However, these players aren’t rewarded for their contributions so we’re not seeing any consistency when it comes to user-generated content. With “token economies,” these players can be given “explicit incentives” so that they can continue contributing for said incentives as opposed to just having fun.

Matsuda might be on to something here. Besides, Square Enix has already mastered the art of shifting blame so should its NFT push fail, it can always blame its development teams like it casually blamed Crystal Dynamics for Marvel’s Avengers.

Anyway, read the full letter here.

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