Square Enix has released the first trailer for its controversial upcoming game symbiogenesis.
At first glance, the title seems to have all the high fantasy you’d expect from the folks behind it Final Fantasy 16. The trailer greets us with an idyllic floating continent and a strong J-pop melody. However, symbiogenesis is the first game to implement what the developers called “an entirely new form of NFT-based entertainment.”
NFTs or “non-tradable tokens” are purportedly uncopyable digital objects that people exchange, often for real money.
Official website (opens in a new tab) he goes on to describe the genre of the game as “narrative, unlockable NFT entertainment.” While “the main story … can be played to the end without any NFT characters”, the title features an NFT market where players can trade NFT characters that are required to “access the game’s character history”.
Developers want to see the conflict between the need to “monopolise essential items” and “sharing NFT with other players.” It seems that despite the pastoral exterior of the JRPG Sybiogenesis will feature a ruthless home market – a move that, as a long-time Square Enix fan, I find rather disturbing.
Guilts of conscience
Though it seems to be formulated in many confusing and abstract languages symbiogenesis intends to use the internal NFT marketplace as an arena through which players can purchase funds to progress in the game.
According to the game project meIn (opens in a new tab)allusion report, “revenue” and “profit points” are important aspects of the game’s structure. According to the NFT report purchased by symbiogenesis players give them access to the otherwise hidden backstory of one of the game’s 10,000 characters, creating an “information gap” between NFT players and those without.
The title feels like an NFT market wrapped in a role-playing game. It breaks my heart as Square Enix uses cute JRPG traps to sell its attempt at the blockchain-based financial market.
All of the title’s most interesting features look like they could exist regardless of this bizarre turn to cryptocurrency. Perhaps the game’s most interesting aspect, the World Mission, will involve selecting three players from the playerbase to complete the game’s final mission while the rest watch.
It is ambitious to put the fate of the entire game world on the shoulders of only three people. However, it is a fascinating commitment that greatly piques the interest of my inner MMO fan. The idea of building an in-game economy by leveraging a sustainable market is also a compelling idea on paper. Eve Online is rightfully known for its dynamic, player-driven market and how it impacts the wider gaming world, making it one of the best MMOs around.
However, the specter of the NFT market looms over all the features of Symbiogenesis, which at first glance will require players to risk real money on blockchain assets. Including this feature seems like a strangely cynical move on Square Enix’s part. Symbiogenesis can be a fascinating project, but the inclusion of the NFT market seems redundant at best and downright predatory at worst.