The internet might have bullied NFTs out of mainstream games (opens in new tab), but Square Enix isn't going to let a little thing like 'what players want' get in the way of its blockchain dreams. The company has released a new trailer for the upcoming Symbiogenesis, its NFT-based game that will, it threatens, feature "10,000 collectible artworks" with "real game utility".
You can find that trailer above, but don't get your hopes up. It mostly consists of shots of (what I assume to be) in-game landscapes, with pretty much no new information at all. Square Enix is way more interested in telling you about all the thousands and thousands of NFT knick-knacks you'll be able to pick up in the game than it is in actually describing what playing it will look like. So instead of speculating, let's focus on this unhinged slide from the game's Project Evaluation Report (opens in new tab), created by "web3 game guild" LGG.(opens in new tab)
Originally spotted by GreatCheshire (opens in new tab) on Twitter, I feel like this single slide gives a better insight into the kind of slog Symbiogenesis is going to be than any of the vaguely detailed bullet points on its website. In fairness, it was put together by a third-party rather than the company itself, but Square Enix links the report in the "Official links" section of the game's Discord, and it feels like it has more thought behind it than pretty much anything we've yet seen about Symbiogenesis' gameplay or narrative so far.
While Square Enix promises that "the main story consisting of all 6 chapters and missions can be played to the end even without having any Character NFT," it feels like the game's design process began with someone writing that "Revenue" box on a whiteboard and working backwards from there.
Square Enix has yet to put out any proper in-game footage, the art we've seen has made heavy and obvious reuse of assets (opens in new tab), and the gameplay section on the Symbiogenesis website (which you can find on its About page (opens in new tab), right under several blurbs about NFTs) says you'll "Progress through the main story and missions while also unlocking the stories held by the characters," which could just about describe any game ever.
Plenty of big games spend a lot of time thinking about monetisation, of course, and I bet more than a few of them have drawn up similarly nightmarish flowcharts. Nevertheless, there's something particularly skeevy about Symbiogenesis, which feels like its gossamer-thin gameplay layer was devised as an afterthought to justify its monetisation. Even more perplexing: the NFT market has shrunk dramatically (opens in new tab) since its heyday, so who is all this stuff even for?
Well, Square Enix executives, probably. The company looks set to replace its current, crypto-loving president (opens in new tab) with a new crypto-loving president. Takashi Kiryu, who's tipped to replace current prez Yosuke Matsuda at the company's June shareholders' meeting, previously worked at Dentsu, which is way into Web3 and blockchain stuff, where he focused on the "scouting of new and disruptive technologies". So don't expect a stop to this nonsense any time soon.
If the game's roadmap (opens in new tab) is to be believed, its first chapter (of six) will release in mid-May.