Square Enix has confirmed that it currently has no plans to release Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy NFTs. Although the company does want to move further into blockchain tech, its president says it's "still early" when it comes to those particular franchises.
Why doesn't Square Enix want to release Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy NFTs?
Square Enix started selling its first range of NFTs back in March 2021, further cementing its interest in the blockchain in a financial report that May. Now, a new shareholders' meeting gives us an idea of where the company is at when it comes to blockchain gaming. According to Japanese blogger michsuzuki (first spotted by SiliconEra), Square Enix president Yosuke Matsuda recently told shareholders that it was "too early" to start thinking about creating NFTs based on popular franchises like Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy. Masuda said that the company is "not thinking about that" at the moment.
This doesn't rule out such a move in the future, of course, but it looks like you can breathe easy for now if you're a JRPG fan and an NFT skeptic. However, Masuda did say that blockchain games are still important to Square Enix's overall strategy, reiterating that the company will be incorporating NFTs and the blockchain into its games in the future. SiliconEra does say that Square Enix declared they would make "story-focused" NFTs, though. It's not entirely clear how the company intends to do that, so it looks like we'll have to wait and see what happens on this front.
As michsuzuki and SiliconEra point out, the report also goes into detail regarding the financial performance of Final Fantasy XIV, Square Enix's ongoing and hugely popular MMORPG. The game has apparently enjoyed a 56% boost on last year, driven mainly by the recent Endwalker expansion (although the ongoing Activision Blizzard fiasco and the mass exodus of World of Warcraft players can't hurt either). Final Fantasy VII Remake also proved a huge hit for Square Enix; game sales were down year-on-year, but that, according to the company, is largely because Final Fantasy VII Remake performed so well in the previous fiscal year. All in all, things are looking up for Square Enix and the Final Fantasy brand in particular, it seems, although if the company does pursue NFTs further, it's likely to meet with criticism and resistance.
Why don't gamers like NFTs?
Since murmurs first began of video games incorporating blockchain technology and NFTs into their business strategies, the reaction from the gaming public has been ambivalent. Major gaming companies like Team17 and Chaosium have backpedaled on NFT plans after they proved controversial with gamers, and indie storefront Itch.io even went as far as to outright call NFTs a "scam". However, there are still several studios that are going all-in on the blockchain, including PUBG owner Krafton and Korean giant Netmarble, not to mention Square Enix itself, of course. Recurring themes when it comes to criticism of NFTs include their massive environmental impact, a lack of tangible benefits for gamers in terms of the fun factor of a game, and concerns over monetization.
For the immediate future, Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest have escaped the NFT treatment, at least. The latest installment in the Final Fantasy series, Final Fantasy XVI, is due out next year, and the next game in the Final Fantasy VII Remake series was also revealed recently, along with an HD remake-slash-remaster of popular PSP spinoff Crisis Core. Over in the world of Dragon Quest, there's a new mainline installment due out sometime in the future, and Japan is also getting an offline version of Dragon Quest X (although there's no word yet on a Western release). We'll bring you more news on this, and on all things Square Enix, as soon as we get it.