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The One Trend That Square Enix's President Wants To Continue

NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) have become a phenomenon in the modern digital marketplace. Using a blockchain to store data and proof of ownership, NFTs have become a divisive way of establishing ownership of a digital asset, be it an image, piece of art, or a video. The practice of selling and buying NFTs has received a fair share of criticism since its emergence, with several detractors noting its not-so-eco-friendly process and even cases of stolen images on the market. Despite the pushback, the NFT trend has grown stronger and made its way into the modern gaming landscape. Recently, there was an uproar over video game developer Ubisofts plan to use NFT technology as it pertained to the exchange of cosmetic microtransactions.

In recent weeks, arguments both for and against the practice being brought to the gaming market. And despite the mixed reactions, many gaming companies are hedging their bets on the popularity of NFTs. Among these is legendary Japanese developer and publisher Square Enix, much to the surprise of fans.

Square Enix president Yosuke Matsuda speaks on NFTs

On Jan. 1, Square Enix president Yosuke Matsuda posted an open letter on the company's website. In the letter, Matsuda describes 2021 as just the first year of NFTs being present in gaming, expressing his belief that the blockchain-based method of digital asset ownership will become "more commonplace" as time goes on. 

"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," Matsuda stated in the letter. "However, 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." The implication here seems to the introduction of NFTs in the video gaming realm will allow players to contribute user-generated content (UGC) to their favorite titles and feel a renewed sense of ownership.

Matsuda's candidness in regards to NFTs drew a great deal of criticism. For instance, Kotaku's Zack Zwiezen called Matsuda's statement a collection of "buzzwords and phrases [that] attempt to convince people that Square Enix's plans involving the metaverse, NFTs, and blockchain technology were totally not terrible," then argued that the NFT community is "a haven for scams, money-hungry celebs, and slimy grifters." Iyane Agossah of DualShockers, however, rationalized Square Enix's decision as the company attempt to keep pace with "the new, next big thing from the West." These debates are likely to continue as more gaming companies become involved in the NFT world.