- Despite consistent opposition, Square Enix refuses to abandon blockchain ideas as Symbiogenesis is in development.
- The concept of NFT gaming is filled with problems and has been unstable due to market crashes and scams.
- Symbiogenesis seems nothing more than a straight-up cash grab with pointless ideas and redundant visuals.
- Square Enix stands at a crossroads to redeem itself after past failures. However, the present direction has placed it at odds with the fans.
Integration of NFTs and blockchain technology in gaming has always been a hated concept. The addition of extreme pay-to-win mechanics and making a game more of a business market takes away the true essence of gaming. Looking to profit from the trend, companies did not care about the user experience as long as there was cash to be made.
Thankfully, the severe backlash and crashing market slightly mitigated this idea. The same cannot be said about Square Enix, though, as it continues to push this ridiculous notion in future projects. The announcement of Square Enix’s increased focus on NFTs was met with a rigid backlash. The replacement of the NFT-loving CEO Yosuke Matsuda delighted fans, but the switch made no difference.
The new CEO Takashi Kiryu was just as eager to promote the NFT and blockchain technologies to be incorporated into the company’s games. This is evident by the fact that despite the downfall of NFTs and the severe opposition of gamers, Symbiogenesis, Square Enix’s NFT-based game, is still in development, and it plans to go all in to take the project to completion.
The Fatal Flaws Of NFT Gaming
The concept of introducing NFTs and blockchain technologies in the gaming industry is controversial and is severely opposed, as it takes away the very reason games are entertaining. No one wants to spend their time in a game that is more of an unpredictable market, with the key features locked behind NFTs that only select owners can experience unless divulged by them. And Symbiogenesis is an exact implementation of that poor idea.
On a fundamental level, the prospect of NFT mechanics is at odds with gaming. The basic idea behind a game is a virtual world where you can experience interesting stories with more control and creative gameplay mechanics to keep you hooked and provide you the freedom to delve into it the way you please. By introducing NFTs, the game effectively locks core content behind paywalls and is only available to the particular user who holds it.
In the end, players with no source of entertainment left lose interest in the game, and subsequent purchases cease. This halts the cash flow and the pay-to-earn formula just collapses on itself. Even if you had considerable interest in it to purchase multiple NFTs and had access to a good amount of content, once the less-game-more-market starts to crash, your dedication goes to waste.
One of the major flaws of the formula is this lack of sustainability. Since it is a pay-to-earn scheme, the game requires continuous cash flow to retain functionality. In order to start “earning,” you first need to pump heavy cash to purchase NFTs. The moment the cash flow disrupts, the game is no longer sustainable and starts to go under, something we really despise since a game is meant to be entertaining, not a mere cash grab.
Just take a look at Axie Infinity. A pokemon-esque game operating on the formula of NFTs and was once the biggest blockchain game for Web3 enthusiasts. It was only a matter of time before it all came tumbling down, as the game suffered a major crash, and the currency used as a staple in the game fell tremendously in value. Despite past failures of the concept, Square Enix is somehow eager to implement it in Symbiogenesis.
And to top it all off, some NFT games are just blatant scams designed to prey on the gullible. Several NFT scams disguised as indie games and Logan Paul’s promoted CryptoZoo are a few examples of heartwrenching scams faced by the gaming community. This further fueled the hatred of NFTs and blockchain systems in gaming, and it’s sad to see the trend not dying out.
NFTs are harmful to games.
We already know that they're environmentally devastating, extract wealth into the hands of bad actors, and are mostly scams or worse.
But I'm a #GameDesign-er, and I also believe that they fundamentally harm the player experience.
— Max Nichols (@maxnichols) October 31, 2021
Symbiogenesis Is A Mess
After disregarding the enormous outrage and failures of the scheme, Square Enix has gone and revealed Symbiogenesis, its full-fledged NFT project. And from what we know so far about this convoluted mess, it is an absolute dread we need to escape from at all costs. The game’s extreme NFT focus is looking to rob us of both money and fun.
Symbiogenesis contains around 10,000 NFTs as characters that are available for purchase. The game is called a “narrative unlocking NFT entertainment” where the quests can be completed by the information locked behind those NFT characters. Basically, the particular information required to advance is only revealed if you possess that NFT bearing it, and you’re locked out if you don’t.
Assuming somehow you’re interested in playing the game, the NFTs already held by other players can be monopolized by them since the game favors holding NFTs rather than selling them immediately. In that case, you can forget about progressing unless you’re willing to pay ridiculous amounts of cash. It also comes with the risk of losing everything in case the game’s economy starts to collapse.
The developers are leaning towards the idea that the game is not pay-to-win on the basis of the technicality that NFT holders can opt to divulge the information to others if they so desire. Sure, let’s ask the other players nicely for information, and they’ll happily share while knowing they can make a lot of profit by selling it instead. The optimism is mind-boggling.
To further fuel the incentive of withdrawing information, the game apparently has a “World Mission.” A wastefully grand premise of selecting only three players who will be given the reigns to decide the direction the game should take in the future. What even is the use of investing your time and money if only three players are in the endgame, and the game moves according to their whims? Not to mention the foolishly large sum of money it will take.
Square Enix's new NFT game won't let everyone play the last mission.
— Derek Strickland (@DeekeTweak) March 16, 2023
If that wasn’t enough to convince you, take a look at the character designs. All the characters possess the same generic design that is not appealing in any way, with the same accessories just pasted over the character models. And there are supposed to be around 10,000 different characters in the Symbiogenesis. I fail to understand the incentive to even purchase these. This bland game looks like a waste of resources.
Square Enix’s Wavering Popularity
Square Enix stands in troubled waters as it refuses to throw away the much-hated scheme of NFT gaming. Despite considerable backlash, Symbiogenesis is in development, and the game itself is such a poor execution that fans are voicing their discontent over this decision. At this rate, Square Enix could lose the confidence of fans just for the sake of the money-grabbing formula, as was demonstrated by the Final Fantasy 7 NFT backlash.
Presently, Square Enix cannot afford to mess up anymore since the mistakes of the past were solid enough to damage its repute from here onwards. Marvel’s Avengers was a massive failure precisely due to the cash-grabbing attempt with the implementation of a live service formula devoid of content. The downfall was severe enough for the game to announce the end of service.
Square Enix’s open-world fantasy RPG was another lackluster launch, with many problems ranging from visuals and lack of content to unbearable dialogues. The game’s poor reception might have been the reason that Luminous Productions, the developer of Forspoken, was merged with Square Enix afterward. Square Enix should have learned from its failures instead of adopting another hateful project.
Blockchain implementation in gaming is a concept filled to the brim with errors and contradictions. It gives money-hungry corporations a perfect route to turn the games into a complete business. We hoped Square Enix would drop this idea after severe opposition, but the reality is cruel indeed. Symbiogenesis arrives as a browser game for PC and mobile in spring 2023.
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