Square Enix joins a blockchain, looks forward to 'harnessing user contributions'

Tidus laughing
(Image credit: Square Enix)

Square Enix has been one of the most bullish of the major publishers in announcing its intention to seriously invest in blockchain technology. At the start of the year, president Yosuka Matsuda said the company intends to "ramp up our efforts to develop a business accordingly, with an eye to potentially issuing our own tokens in the future."

What exactly that might mean remains to be seen, though one unexpected outcome was Square Enix selling off its Western studios and series like Deus Ex and Tomb Raider to Embracer group for roughly $300 million. A good chunk of this money was earmarked for Square Enix's crypto projects and, when discussing last year's financial results, it kept on banging the drum for blockchain, NFTs and other things that fung in the night.

Now, Square Enix is going to become part of a blockchain. It will be one of 21 'node validators' of the Oasys blockchain, which like all of them claims to be eco-friendly and not like all those other blockchains. A node validator is an entity that maintains a copy of a given blockchain, and has a role in verifying and keeping records of all its transactions. No word yet on what the Gallagher brothers think about the name.

The Oasys project does have some serious Japanese talent behind it, including Hajime Nakatani (president and CEO of Bandai Namco's research division), and Shuji Utsumi (a founding member at Playstation, co-founder of Q Entertainment, and current co-COO of Sega), and it has secured commitments from several big publishers, including unsurprisingly Bandai Namco and Sega as well as those crypto-fanciers over at Ubisoft.

Yosuke Saito, the director of Square Enix's Blockchain Entertainment Division, said:

"Our shared enthusiasm for Web3 gaming makes this an exciting partnership for us and we look forward to gaining insights that can advance the creation of all-new gameplay experiences for gamers across the globe."

Most concerning for the gamer in the street will be this line from the press release: "As part of this initiative, Square Enix and Oasys will explore the feasibility of harnessing user contributions in the development of new games on the Oasys blockchain."

Well, we had a good run everyone. Oasys doesn't yet have a firm launch date but it's expected to happen later this year. Then I suppose we'll get our first glimpse of what happens when Final Fantasy fans get offered the chance to buy 'one-of-a-kind' moogles.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."