Square Enix has announced it is to start selling Million Arthur NFTs (non-fungible tokens) starting in summer this year. It's part of a wider move towards NFT technology, with Square Enix aiming to "create new digital entertainment and build business models" using NFTs.
What are NFTs, and why is Square Enix selling them?
In essence, NFTs are tokens denoting ownership of a digital asset. It's probably helpful to think of it as like owning an original artwork as opposed to owning a print; while it's the same piece of art, the NFT - which uses blockchain technology to verify ownership - confirms you as the owner of the "original work" as opposed to a replica. NFTs don't have anything to do with copyright law, so you're still not the owner of a work's copyright just because you have its NFT. Data for each NFT, including usage history, serial number, and more, is stored on the blockchain, meaning each seal is unique and theoretically unable to be copied.
In a blog post on its official Japanese website (for which we're using machine translation), Square Enix says its first NFT digital seals will be for art and assets in the Million Arthur series. This franchise spans multiple types of media including free-to-play games, anime, and an MMO, among other things. In Square Enix's description of NFTs, it lists "game characters, items, and trading cards" as the items most compatible with NFTs, so expect those to be the first Million Arthur items with NFT seals attached to them. Square Enix says this will be part of a wider move into building new business models and entertainment products using NFTs.
What else is happening with NFTs in the gaming world?
There's a fair bit of controversy surrounding NFTs in the gaming world right now. According to Kotaku, Castle Doctrine developer Jason Rohrer is selling NFTs for game artwork that doesn't belong to him and wasn't created by him. Rohrer said he would share proceeds with the works' original artists if they do sell, but it's sparked a conversation around art ownership and NFTs in gaming that isn't likely to die down anytime soon. A less controversial example of NFTs in gaming is digital platform The Sandbox offered gamers and creators the chance to purchase NFTs in LAND, finite parts of that website's metaverse, allowing creators to "host games or social experiences" within the platform. It had its best month in February, selling 2.8m USD worth of LAND.
It's not just gaming, either. The Nyan Cat meme, which depicts a pixelated cat flying through space as a rainbow streams out behind it, was recently sold via NFT auction for approximately $580,000. Digital artist Beeple, also known as Mike Winkelmann, believes that NFTs are a bubble but that they will have some staying power in the market beyond the current "irrational exuberance". Beeple should know; he's the guy who created the first artwork to be sold in a purely digital auction with an NFT attached. We'll have to wait and see how Square Enix's Million Arthur NFTs perform. Of course, we'll bring you more on this as we get it.
Would you buy a Million Arthur NFT? Let us know in the comments below!