Square Enix Is Making an NFT and Gaming Culture Is Triggered AF...and Wrong - Here's Why

 
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Legendary game studio Square Enix recently announced a 25th anniversary physical statue of beloved hero Cloud Strife, but there’s a catch: It comes with an NFT! Gaming culture, long known for their hatred of NFTs, immediately went completely berserk, and many gaming news sites attacked Square Enix for including an NFT with this release. But why? Are they even right to be mad? Let’s look at what’s actually going on and find out.

Cloud Strife Immortalized as an NFT

Cloud looking badass as always… | Credit: Square EnixCloud looking badass as always… | Credit: Square Enix

Before we get into the details on just how stupid websites like Kotaku are, let’s talk about the product itself. The 25th Anniversary Cloud Strife statue is a new physical and digital product by Square Enix, creators of FFVII, in which Cloud Strife is the main protagonist. While the statue is available for pre-order immediately, it isn’t expected to release until November 2023. That’s well over a year from now. Not only that, but many details about the included NFT have not been released yet and are still in development.

What we do know is that the digital version will be an NFT built in collaboration with the team at Enjin and will live on the Efinity blockchain. Square Enix says that it will serve as a digital certificate of authenticity as well as a collectible for purchasers of the physical statue. That’s about all we know regarding Square Enix’s first foray into the world of NFTs. Square has been one of the few companies that has been somewhat bullish on NFTs for quite some time and has stated on multiple occasions that they wish to introduce more in the future.

But what is it about this collection that seems to be triggering hysteria and vitriol among gamers and gaming news sites like Kotaku and The Verge ?

Gaming News Got It All Wrong

Many popular gaming news sites immediately sprang into action and ran stories about the Square Enix news. In fact, many used this opportunity to mock and attack Square Enix for their choice in an attempt to scare the company away from NFTs in general.

In an article on The Verge , writers Ash Parrish and Richard Lawler had this to say:

In what is perhaps the most astounding case of “Didn’t read the source material you created,” Square Enix is making its NFTs from Final Fantasy VII — that relatively obscure indie game about a bunch of freedom fighters taking down a corporation that’s killing the planet.

He goes on later in the article to say the following:

Square Enix is choosing to make its NFTs — a technology known to consume exorbitant amounts of energy contributing to wildly increased emissions and accelerating already out-of-control climate change on a planet that is either on fire, drowned, or melting — out of characters it created who were dedicated to stopping companies from doing exactly what an NFT facilitates.

In a similarly negative article on Kotaku , writer Luke Plunkett said that “Hilariously, it won’t be out until November 2023” and that by then Efinity, the blockchain used to store the digital NFT, “won’t even be around.”

While these sarcastic and negative comments play well with the current sentiment among gamers towards NFTs, they are based on completely misleading information and a lack of understanding of the parties and technology involved.

Now before gamers go saying, “Oh, NFT people always say that we don’t like it because we don’t understand it,” that’s not what I’m saying. I believe that most gamers understand the basics, but these comments in particular and the focus of the negativity in these articles is unwarranted for several reasons. Let’s unpack some of the relevant information and dispute these misguided takes.

Irony of FFVII and NFTs

Let’s look at the first point about Square not reading the source material. The argument here is that it’s ironic that the story in FFVII is about freedom fighters taking down a corporation that is killing the planet, yet Square Enix has decided to memorialize the main character by supporting a technology that is destroying the planet. But this just isn’t the case with the choices that Square Enix has made.

The Square Enix NFTs are being made in collaboration with Enjin and will utilize the Efinity blockchain. The Efinity blockchain is based on a technology called Substrate which has been developed by the team at Polkadot , and Efinity is going to be a Polkadot Parachain. While there are a lot of technical aspects involved, it’s important to understand that Efinity is based on technology that has a much lower carbon footprint and far lower energy expenditure than either Bitcoin or Ethereum .

In fact, in this article , Enjin themselves make the case that the Efinity blockchain uses a mere fraction of the electricity used annually by a blockchain like Ethereum, and far less than gold mining uses in a year. Here’s the comparative values:

CO2 Comparison | Credit: EnjinCO2 Comparison | Credit: Enjin

So what gives? Are the writers at The Verge being dishonest? Do they lack journalistic integrity? Maybe, but I think it’s more of a case of the writers being lazy and pandering to a popular narrative. Gamers hate NFTs, and they continue this narrative through opinion pieces with little research or actual journalism involved to get the clicks they need to keep their jobs. This is the content that sells to gamers right now who revel in the failures of NFT collectors and get outraged anytime someone even mentions the word.

Now let’s be clear—I get it. I even wrote an entire article about how NFT Culture Sucks. That still doesn’t excuse bad journalism or encouraging a false narrative about this collection. In fact, Square Enix made a solid choice in deciding to go with Enjin, and perhaps they made that choice as a result of them listening to fans’ criticisms of blockchains like Ethereum and the perceived environmental impact.

A Good Chance Enjin Isn’t Around in 2023

Looking at the Kotaku article, we aren’t surprised to see this kind of piss-poor journalism and completely ignorant take. The truth is, Kotaku hates NFTs, and I doubt we’re going to change their minds anytime soon. This is just the most recent in a long string of Kotaku articles trashing on the sector, most of which have little to no research involved. This particular article is such a bad take and is not only defamatory to Enjin, but also part of the problem with the perception of the industry.

Many people may not know who Enjin is, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a reputable company. It might surprise you to learn that Enjin was actually founded many years ago in 2009, long before Ethereum was even thought of. The company didn’t start delving into NFTs full time until 2017. Not only that, but Enjin doesn’t just release NFTs and kill the environment like Kotaku would have you believe. They have contributed countless innovations to the industry to help with much of the criticism NFTs have faced. Whether it’s their development of the ERC1155 standard, the Enjin network and their contributions to the Substrate Ecosystem, or JumpNet (which actually provides for gas-free transactions and is actually carbon-negative) Enjin is one of the good guys.

In their fits of rage, Kotaku has failed to do the research and understand what it is they’re so mad about. The truth of the matter is, Enjin is actually solving the problems that Kotaku and others like them have with NFTs. Square Enix, by choosing to go with Enjin as a partner, follows in the footsteps of Microsoft in choosing to support a network dedicated to doing good in the industry.

Enjin is even a member of the UN Global Compact Corporate Responsibility Initiative dedicated to improving issues related to human rights, labor, the environment, and anti-corruption.

It’s unfair to their team and the good work they’re trying to do to simply lump them in wholesale with others in the industry or to assign an incorrect narrative to what it is they are doing. At least put in the minimum effort to understand that NFTs and the technology around them aren’t all bad and some companies actually do care.

Demand Integrity and Better Reporting

While there isn’t much we can do to win over the hearts and minds of gamers in one article, it’s important that the news industry focuses more on journalistic integrity and putting in the time and effort to properly report these stories. Continuing the false narrative about NFTs, even with companies like Enjin that are trying to do things right, only hurts the efforts to clean up the NFT sector and push out bad actors. Our recommendation to sites like The Verge and Kotaku is this: stop bitching about the problem if you can’t even be bothered to do 5 minutes of research to be a part of the solution.

So what do you think? Are NFTs just bad no matter what? Do you like the negative articles by The Verge and Kotaku? Or would you like to see more integrity and effort from your journalists? Let us know your thoughts!

A Special shout-out to VentureBeat for doing the legwork and proper reporting on this one!

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The way I see it: the more people that hate me, the less people I have to please.

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