Video game publisher Square Enix has revealed Symbiogenesis, an Ethereum NFT-driven web-based game.
Square Enix first signaled interest in blockchain in 2019 and has made a number of moves around NFTs and Web3 since then.
After developing and publishing some of the most successful video game franchises of all time, including Final Fantasy and Tomb Raider, Square Enix has increasingly turned its attention to Web3—and now the Japanese firm has unveiled its first game that will make use of NFTs: Symbiogenesis.
Announced today, Symbiogenesis is described as a “digital collectible art experience” anchored by NFT artwork, which works within the game and can also be used as a social media profile picture (PFP). It’s a brand new franchise for Square Enix, rather than an extension or spinoff of existing IP, and tentatively planned to launch on Ethereum in spring 2023.
Rather than a robust, immersive traditional video game experience, Symbiogenesis is described as a web-based, narrative-driven platform that features interactive elements. Players will control their NFT-based character as they “‘untangle’ a mystery by completing missions that revolve around questions of the monopolization and distribution of resources,” per an official description.
An NFT is a blockchain token that can serve as a deed of ownership for a unique item, often for digital goods like artwork, collectibles, and interactive video game items. In this case, Square Enix will sell a range of characters as PFP artwork that can also be plugged into a web-based game experience.
Square Enix first signaled interest in the Web3 space in early 2019, when President Yosuke Matsuda pointed to blockchain tech as a potential key component of future games. In March 2020, the company led a $2 million investment round in metaverse game The Sandbox.
Square Enix first entered the Web3 space in 2021 with the Japan-only launch of NFT “digital stickers” for anime and video game franchise Million Arthur via the LINE blockchain platform, in collaboration with Web3 studio Double Jump.Tokyo. Later that year, the publisher noted increasing ambitions in the blockchain space, including NFT-powered games.
Earlier this year, Square Enix sold off a number of franchises (including Tomb Raider) and studios for $300 million, in part to fund further Web3 efforts. Also this year, Square Enix announced plans to bring its Dungeon Siege franchise into The Sandbox, and launch NFTs tied to collectible Final Fantasy figurines minted on Enjin’s Polkadot-based platform.
As with other traditional video game publishers and developers entering the Web3 space—such as Ubisoft and Team17—Square Enix has faced considerable backlash from fans.
Some gamers have vocally opposed NFTs due to the presence of crypto scams and the expectation that publishers will use them as a way to extract more value from players. Critics have also cited the environmental impact of Ethereum NFTs, although that complaint has been effectively killed by the network’s recent merge upgrade.
Symbiogenesis is no different, and this morning’s announcement has already been met by grumbling from role-playing game fans. The IP trademark had previously leaked ahead of today’s announcement, and was widely rumored to be a remake of the popular 1998 game, Parasite Eve, or a new entry in that series. Instead, it’s a brand new Ethereum NFT game.
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