In November 2021, Sega's Q2 results (opens in new tab) mentioned that the Japanese publisher planned to team up with Microsoft to develop cloud-powered 'super games' as well as making "investment in new fields such as NFT." It didn't take too long for Sega president and CEO Haruki Satomi to sound a more, cautionary note, however, saying "if it is perceived as simple money-making, I would like to make a decision not to proceed."
Today comes the news that Sega filed two trademarks with the Japanese Patent Office in December 2021 for 'Sega NFT' (thanks, VGC (opens in new tab)). The first says 'Sega NFT (opens in new tab)' while the second is for the 'Sega Classics NFT Collection (opens in new tab).' The latter will probably be similar to what Konami recently did with Castlevania but the bigger question is whether this indicates a wider move on Sega's part.
Sega's not alone in the industry, of course. Peter Molyneux's next game Legacy is play-to-earn and all-in on NFTs, while among the larger publishers Square Enix president Yosuke Matsuda recently said the company has "an eye to potentially issuing our own tokens in the future". This was despite his acknowledgement that "some people who 'play to have fun' and who currently form the majority of players have voiced their reservations toward these new trends". GSC World cancelled plans to incorporate NFTs in Stalker 2 following a backlash, while Ubisoft's NFT scheme doesn't seem hugely popular and has been called "useless, costly, ecologically mortifying" (opens in new tab) by a French trade union to boot.
Who knows whether this is simply Sega getting ahead of a trend to be on the safe side, or an indication that some horrific Sonic Ape crossover is coming. Whatever happens it's unlikely to cross-over into Sega's actual games yet, not least because Steam has banned all games with NFTs or cryptocurrency.