One of the biggest news stories of 2021 was the rise in popularity of NFTs. Though they started as a fringe movement among cryptocurrency developers, by the end of 2021 the market was valued at over $22 billion.
It wasn’t just individuals who cashed in on the trend; major gaming companies were eager to find a way to carve out their own slice of the NFT pie.
Square Enix, developers of the storied Final Fantasy series as well as some of the most loved JRPGs of all time, announced that 2022 would be the year they embrace NFTs and other blockchain technologies.
Square is hardly the first gaming company to jump onto the NFT train.
Last year saw Ubisoft, who have been embroiled in their own set of controversies throughout the year, add NFTs to their release of Ghost Recon: Breakpoint while EA has said that NFTs and blockchain games will be the future of the gaming industry.
It is clear that, whether gamers like the idea or not, NFTs will play some role in gaming over the next year.
Yosuke Matsuda, president of Square Enix, released a statement on January 1st that went into his vision for the future of gaming.
It included referring to 2021 as “NFTs: Year One” and stating that he expects the technology to become “more commonplace among the general public” over the next year. His statement, which also seemed disappointed that the majority of players “play for fun” rather than “play to contribute,” didn’t lay out any concrete direction for the company’s use of NFTs but that didn’t stop fans from reacting to the statement with unease.
For those who aren’t familiar, NFTs are like a receipt for a digital asset stored on a server somewhere else. They confer ownership of a specific copy of something like a JPEG, rather than the art asset itself.
NFTs certainly permeated into pop culture last year, with significant moments such as Beeple’s $69 million artwork selling back in March.
Towards the end of the year, there was a significant uptake in fan tokens, an NFT which allows supporters of sports teams to purchase digital influence.
Adopted by the likes of Barcelona and Paris St Germain, these tokens allow fans to vote on key issues and give access to select areas of the grounds.
While fan tokens have been snapped up by sports fans, the gaming world has not been as quick to embrace NFTs for several reasons.
One is the environmental impact of blockchain technologies in general, which require a large amount of energy to produce.
In Square Enix’s case, many fans pointed out that the company’s difficulties with the latest Final Fantasy XIV expansion, which has been extremely popular despite overloaded servers, were indirectly made worse by cryptocurrency miners buying all the chips and processors they could, preventing the company from expanding their servers for the game ahead of launch.
Square Enix hasn’t announced anything beyond their president’s excitement about the technology, it is clear that they will embrace NFTs over the coming year in an effort to cash in on the technology before the bubble bursts on the trend.
NFTs are likely to create an even bigger stir during 2022, so get ready to see them on your consoles in the coming months, whether you like the tech or not.