Square Enix's NFT game has a new trailer, but I'm more interested in its absolutely dystopian project report

The internet might have bullied NFTs out of mainstream games, 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, created by "web3 game guild" LGG.

(Image credit: LGG)

Originally spotted by GreatCheshire 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, and the gameplay section on the Symbiogenesis website (which you can find on its About page, 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 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 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 is to be believed, its first chapter (of six) will release in mid-May.

Joshua Wolens
News Writer

One of Josh's first memories is of playing Quake 2 on the family computer when he was much too young to be doing that, and he's been irreparably game-brained ever since. His writing has been featured in Vice, Fanbyte, and the Financial Times. He'll play pretty much anything, and has written far too much on everything from visual novels to Assassin's Creed. His most profound loves are for CRPGs, immersive sims, and any game whose ambition outstrips its budget. He thinks you're all far too mean about Deus Ex: Invisible War.