SYMBIOGENESIS: "Final Fantasy" developer Square Enix's NFT experiment

23-03-15 14:08
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Writing: Cookie, Beat BlockBeats

If you're a gaming fan, Square Enix is familiar -- it's the creator of "Final Fantasy," "Dragon Fighter," "Kingdom Hearts," and even online games like "Magic Baby."

SYMBIOGENESIS was launched by Square Enix on November 3 last year. Now, it's finally officially coming to the blockchain world. What will SYMBIOGENESIS be like? Pulsating BlockBeats takes you inside.


The NFT ambitions of the gaming giants

Yosuke Matsuda, Square Enix's current CEO, mentioned in his shareholder letter earlier this year that the company is working on several blockchain games based on original IP. In fact, Square Enix has been planning to enter the NFT for a long time.

In May 2020, Square Enix announced its interim business strategy, which identified blockchain gaming as a new investment area for the company. In November 2021, Square Enix discussed entering the NFT and blockchain gaming space in an earnings release. In 2022, CEO Yosuke Matsuda said in his New Year's letter that he hoped to see the value of digital goods using NFT technology matched to their real value, so that NFT "becomes as familiar to the public as the trading of physical goods."

In addition to SYMBIOGENESIS, Square Enix is doing a lot more in the blockchain space. They are the node operator of Oasys, a Japanese gaming blockchain, have invested in Zebedee, a protocol focused on the integration of bitcoin and the gaming ecosystem, and are selling physical Final Fantasy VII game character dolls with NFT versions...

Yosuke Matsuda has big ambitions for the blockchain game. But the CEO, who has been at the helm of Square Enix for nearly a decade, may be about to lose control. On March 3, Square Enix's Board of Directors announced a proposed change of Chairman of the Board to Takashi Kiryu. In June, shareholders will decide on Yosuke Matsuda. The proposed changes are aimed at reshaping the management team to adapt to evolving technology and maximize the company's creativity, according to the proposal.

Traditional gaming media, such as Kotaku, believe that Yosuke Matsuda is in danger of leaving office because of his excessive promotion of NFT and blockchain games. But there are some opposing views in the Web3 circle, arguing that Yosuke Matsuda is not "pushing too far" and suffering from discontent, but is "too slow." This contrary view is based on the fact that, in addition to the reasons cited in the proposed change, the proposed successor is Takashi Kiryu, a former general manager of the Dentsu Innovation Initiative, The company's cross-group organization, XRX Studio, has been focused on "integrated metaverse solutions" since 2021. Blockchain and gaming, two areas that are increasingly converging, offer an interesting juxtapositive screenshot.

Can Web2 and Web3 co-exist?

This is not only what Square Enix is exploring in the real world, it's also the theme of SYMBIOGENESIS. The ultimate fate of the SYMBIOGENESIS world depends on the answer to this question.

Only three players were able to complete the final "world quest" for SYMBIOGENESIS. To qualify for the World Quest, you must complete all the main quests and collect a specified set of hidden items. However, these goals are difficult to achieve, and players need to share information in order to overcome them.

Will a small group of individual whales monopolize information resources, or will a large number of players work together to bring the game to an end? This theme for SYMBIOGENESIS reflects the contrast between Web2's centralized business model and Web3's decentralized principles. Square Enix expects smaller groups to be a major trend in the early stages of games. As the game progresses, the trend is toward large-scale gang warfare, and negotiations lead to cooperation and confrontation that make the game more interesting.

The end of the game is left open, with the outcome of the "world quest" determining the ultimate fate of the SYMBIOGENESIS world. What answer do we see?

The "information war" triggered by exploration

At the heart of the SYMBIOGENESIS game mechanic is "exploration".

- Complete the main storyline/quest to explore the story behind the character. This part of the game is "Free to Play", the difficulty is low, any player can participate, there will be a total of six chapters. By playing this section of the game, players can learn the main story of the SYMBIOGENESIS world.

- Complete the treasure hunt to collect hidden items. This section of the game is exclusive to the "Character NFT" holder. Scavenger hunts can be conducted independently of the main storyline, with new scavenger hunts released as each new chapter of the main storyline is unlocked. The difficulty of the treasure hunt task is high, players need to unlock the information contained in the "character NFT" to complete the cooperation.

- Complete the final "World Quest". Only three players can participate in this part of the game, and the rest can only watch. To qualify for the World Quest, you must complete all the main quests and collect a specified set of hidden items. The outcome of the "World quest" will determine the fate of the SYMBIOGENESIS world, and the three players who complete the "World Quest" will receive the highest reward. This setting is reminiscent of BAYC's Dookey Dash game. In Dookey Dash, the player with the highest ranking gets 1/1 of the key prizes.

All of this information comes from the stories that the character NFT contains. The level of the "character NFT" determines the amount of information available, which determines how much help can be provided for the quest, and also affects how well the player experiences the story.

There are four levels of "character NFT" :

- "Face" character: most common in appearance and class, with "memory slot" and "treasure hunt clue slot".

- "Net" character: generic in appearance and class, with "memory slots" and "subordinate story slots", and less likely to get multiple hidden items when successfully collected.

- "Line" characters: unique in appearance and class, with "memory slots", "subordinate story slots" and "exclusive story slots".

- "Dot" characters: Most unique in appearance and class, with all the "slots".

All four levels of Character NFT will be available for purchase on the SYMBIOGENESIS website. The total number of "Character NFT" is 10,000 and has been released in 6 waves. At the end of each episode, a new batch of 500 character FTTS will be released for purchase. The first batch will be available for purchase at the end of April at a price to be determined.

Unlock the "slot" to access the "character NFT" hidden story. To unlock slots, players need to consume slot points. "Character NFT" holders log in daily to earn "slot points". The more character NFT you have, the more slot points you earn.

Different kinds of "slots" contain different types of stories:

- "Memory Slot" : a character's past story. Such stories do not affect competition and are available to all players after unlocking.

- "Treasure Hunt Clue Slot" : The story contains the treasure hunt quest clue. Only "Character NFT" holders can read it after unlocking (including "replica" characters).

- "Subordinate Story Slot" : The character's current story. Only the holder and "Net", "line" and "Point" character holders of the same class can be read after unlocking (including "copy" character).

- "Open Story Slot" : The character's current story. Such stories do not affect competition and are available to all players after unlocking.

- "Exclusive Story Slot" : The character's current story. Only the holder can read it after unlocking (including the "copy" character).

- "Main Quest Slot" : A story containing clues to complete the main storyline quest. Such stories are only useful for the simpler main quest and are available to all players once unlocked.

The information provided by different stories can be similar or very different, and players need to cooperate by exchanging information to piece together a clear thread. Players can buy "duplicative" characters if they are interested in the story behind a character, or if they want to access other information decoding puzzles. With the purchase of a Character NFT, the buyer gets five copies of the character, and having a copy of the character gives the buyer access to the unlocked story of the character NFT (but no other benefits of the character NFT). As the game progresses, we should see interesting transactions happening -- you want to get the information we have? Then take the money and buy our "copy" characters. By the way, we sold it to them before we sold it to you. Do you want them to put more distance between us? Then you'll have to raise the price...

In addition to exchanging information and cooperating to piece together clear clues to find hidden items, players also need to click on any suspicious places on the game map to find them. Players who can't complete the treasure hunt can buy it in the secondary market. In-game hidden items can be converted into NFT and sold on the secondary market, and hidden items purchased on the secondary market can be converted back into in-game items. SYMBIOGENESIS will provide Gas for a certain number of NFT conversion operations.

The competitive outcome of the game is determined by ranking. Players can gain experience and improve their level and rank in the following ways:

- Complete the treasure hunt.

- Complete the main task.

- Unlock Slot.

- Daily login: Exclusive with "Role NFT" or "Community membership card".

It should be noted that the current lottery for a "Community Membership card" in SYMBIOGENESIS Official Discord, and the first sales of "Character NFT" are not yet known if there will be a whitelist mechanism. The only official purpose of the "Community Membership card" is the above mentioned daily login experience, depending on the level of the card, the experience can be more or less different.

- Ordinary card: red, blue, yellow, green, etc., the same color membership card holding more than one effect is not superimposed, if the color is different, each color can only have 1 card play a role. For example, if you have two regular red cards, you only have one red card. If you have 2 regular red cards and 2 regular blue cards, you have 1 red card and 1 blue card.

Silver Card: Hold multiple effects to stack.

- Gold Card: Hold multiple effects to stack.

- Mystery Card: Hold multiple effects to stack.

Each season lasts approximately 2 months, and bonuses will be awarded based on the ranking at the end of the season, and the ranking will be reset at the beginning of the next season. Ranking rewards are as follows:

- Discount purchase rights in the next section "Character NFT".

- NFT of the background used in the story chapters.

- The "Apex" character (bonus for the last season)

- More unannounced rewards.


Finally, two observations about SYMBIOGENESIS. One is good but not that good, one is bad but not that bad.

On the plus side, Square Enix's demographic is fairly clear. Their intended audience is divided into three categories: zero-spending players for pure entertainment, money-making players who focus on gold mining, and deep players who play for glory. The boundaries between these three types of players are not so clear. They overlap and can be transformed into each other. This part reflects Square Enix's understanding of chain travel is OK.

On the downside, Square Enix's Twitter has so far had no interaction with SYMBIOGENESIS, which doesn't even follow Square Enix's Twitter. The announcement cut wasn't good for SYMBIOGENESIS, which has only about 26,000 followers so far. Moreover, such a cut may raise questions about whether Square Enix considers SYMBIOGENESIS a "biological child." With no trailers or beta released for SYMBIOGENESIS, it's hard to say how good the game will be in the end. According to the official roadmap, "Character NFT" holders won't actually be able to take an interest in the game until mid-May, with the release scheduled for late April. If the quality of the final product fails to meet the appetite created by the intervening "gap", subsequent market performance is likely to be less optimistic.

In any case, AAA developers' attempts at NFT are certainly worth keeping an eye on. Will Square Enix surprise us? Let's wait and see.

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