Tag Archives: Square Enix

Crypto and NFTs Still Trying to Undermine Video Games

This past week we saw a very strong stand against the scam that is crypto and NFTs when Microsoft, through their Mojang subsidiary, announced that NFTs and blockchain would not be allowed to interface with Minecraft in any way due to the speculative nature of the technology and the dubious practices of its proponents.

This follows on… a bit late, but at least it happened… from companies like Valve not allowing crypto on its Steam platform to CCP walking back their rather obvious desire to hook blockchain in EVE Online.

This has been a good trend, since we kicked off the year with things like the buffoonish declaration from the president of Square Enix about serving an audience that wants games to be work rather than fun.

And you would think, with crypto crashing hard for the last couple of months, companies might want to bail out of the who thing, or at least keep a low profile.  And some clearly are… while others, not so much.

Epic Games Store

First up is Tim Sweeney.  I really don’t know that much about him other than he is a smart guy, that Fortnite has made him rich, that he hates giving money to Valve, Apple, and Google, but doesn’t mind handing it over to Sony and Microsoft, and that he wants to dislodge Steam with his own Epic Games Store.

Oh, and he comes across as somebody who really wants to be the good guy, even when he is clearly reading from the wrong script.

So, naturally he was out there after the Minecraft announcement, replying directly to that announcement on Twitter, declaring that the Epic Game Store would not be banning cryto and blockchain on its platform and that developers should be free to do anything that is legal.

Naturally, when previously asked if Epic itself was going to get into crypto, he said they wouldn’t be touching NFTs, the market being mostly scams.

I remember when Valve said they didn’t want to get into dictating what kind of games developers could put up on Steam.  They have since quietly dropped that stance and spend quite a bit of time banning titles that do not meet their own standards.  Nobody will think you’re a hero if you let scams and garbage into your store.

GameStop

It is 2022 and I am honestly surprised that GameStop is still a thing.  But there was that who stock market thing that I still don’t quite understand, save for the fact that I am sure somebody got rich out of it… and not anybody who wasn’t wealthy already.

Anyway, having survived that GameStop went hard into crypto and NFTs recently, selling things like callous rip-offs of famous photographs from 9/11.

True to the trend for the company in the last few years, this strategy to go all in on crypto just as it was crashing might not be going as planned.

Square Enix

While SE had to assure people that they wouldn’t be injecting blockchain into their beloved titles like FFXIV, they were still bound and determined to get in on this crypto fad.  And so the plan became to sell collectibles with associated NFTs.

Why you need an NFT is you have a physical item seems like a tough question to answer, but at least they didn’t go with their initial “all work and no fun makes Square shareholders richer” plan.  There is no play to earn video game in the mix.

Entropia Universe

I like Entropia Universe, if only because it has been running the play to earn game for almost two decades now and never needed blockchain, crypto, or NFTs to make its way.

It is still, by all reports, a tedious and unfun game to play unless you are willing to spend money, but at least it was a shining example of why play to earn needs crypto the way a fish needs a bicycle.

But, apparently, if you’re already in the play to earn space and see a bandwagon to jump on, you do it.  And so they will be auctioning off five unique in-game eggs that… somehow are not supposed to be about speculation.  I guess I have to give them credit for at least understanding scarcity and fear of missing out… and for no doubt getting that blockchaining all the things is a bad idea.  Still, they couldn’t resist at least a taste of that NFT hype.

Atari

I have been over the degradation of Atari before.  They were minting a cryto currency two years ago.  Still, I got an offer from them to buy a limited edition T-shirt to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the company and was completely unsurprised to see the company’s current logo and focus.

Two of these are correct

People have been abusing the decomposing corpse of Atari for more than 30 years.  They sure as hell are not making any games, just recycling whatever part of the company’s history can be turned into a buck.

Anyway, even in the wake of crypto’s big fall, you still have things you can throw your money at if you want to help destroy the environment and enable various scams.

Quote of the Day – Why Just Play to Have Fun?

I realize that some people who “play to have fun” and who currently form the majority of players have voiced their reservations toward these new trends, and understandably so. However, I believe that there will be a certain number of people whose motivation is to “play to contribute,” by which I mean to help make the game more exciting.

-Yosuke Matsuda, President of Square Enix, 2022 New Years Letter

Welcome to the new year.  Things are already trending towards dumb.

That isn’t the usual self-indicting stupidity that I generally go for as the capstone in a quote of the day post, but that is only because Mr. Matsuda is attempting to conceal his message in a mist of gentle and encouraging words.

Square Enix

But in digesting the final few paragraphs of the Square Enix New Year’s letter, one can only end up with poop that spells out, “Fuck fun, show me the money!”

A little too much Bobby Kotick vibe in that?

And yes, Square Enix is a business and the president thereof has a fiduciary responsibility to guide the company in a way that realizes growth and profitability for the firm.  The question is really whether or not that responsibility requires him, as president, to jump on buzzwords that would upset what he admits is a majority of his players just to goose the stock price or accomplish whatever he had in mind when this was written.

I suppose if I believed in my heart of hearts that crypto, NFTs, blockchain, and pay to earn would deliver the gaming nirvana that the crypto bros would have you believe, I might let this pass.  But I have yet to see an argument in favor of introducing any of that to video games that doesn’t just amount to a crypto tax on something the companies could do on their own if it was actually a good idea.  I mean, I am pretty sure Raph Koster and Playable Worlds covers everything the crypto bros are promoting, yet have somehow managed not to bring blockchain into the picture because it adds nothing to the mix.

Seriously, does anybody think a company like Square Enix couldn’t roll up a pay to earn scheme or something that allowed users to get paid for content they generated that doesn’t require crypto connections to siphon off a piece of the profits?  Tracking something via blockchain is basically putting it on an expensive, slow database.  MySQL is free and your own server will cost less to run.

And that really gets to the heart of things.  Even if you look past the obvious scams, the overvaluation, the constant problems, and the environmental impact, the benefits beyond hype are non-existent.  Blockchain offers nothing that a dev studio couldn’t already do, nothing that hasn’t already been done, just at a greater costs with a loss of control over the product.

And the loss of control is the big hit.  How is your game going to play out if the crypto currency you use to drive it suddenly gets popular and now everything in your cash shop is too expensive for new players?  What are you going to do if the bottom falls out of the currency you went with and all of your new customers abandon ship having lost the money they threw in?  How are you going to handle scams and theft in your game if you cannot revert a transaction because the blockchain determines who owns a thing and you don’t control that?  Ask all those bored ape bros who have had their apes stolen… something that seems to occur daily… how happy they are about decentralization when it means nobody can address their problem.  What kind of customer service nightmares are you willing to endure to jump on this bandwagon?

It beggars belief that executives at legitimate companies have suddenly found themselves in a situation where they feel the need to at least pay lip service to patently bad ideas because otherwise they will look like they aren’t jumping on board the latest trend.  This is a pyramid scheme and it demands new people buy in so the people already invested can cash out and companies are at least saying they want their customers to be next in line to get swindled if it will just raise the stock price a bit.

But this one, this steps over a line that I hadn’t seen previously in that the President of Square Enix stood up and said that a majority of his customers won’t like this, but screw them, because we’ll just get better customers who will make us more money.  Does he assume that customers who show up because they are in it to get paid won’t jump ship the moment the gravy train ends?  Is he saying that they’ll stick around like the long term “play for fun” customers?  Because, in the end, these schemes always make many more losers than winners, and nobody is going to love your game if you promised them income for playing and it doesn’t appear.

Now, this New Year’s post, like so many recent pronouncements, is all just so much chin music until they actually put something into action, so there is the distinct possibility that cooler heads will prevail and won’t throw themselves into a technology mostly known for being a scam, but we shall see.  But putting current users on notice that the company might not see value in the play style of a majority of their customers seems like a bad sign all the same.

Friday Bullet Points in the Dog Days of Summer

It is hot out, the price of everything seems higher, Covid infection rates are rising, and here in California we’re in a drought and the state is once again starting to catch fire again in a major way.   At least Friday Bullet Points is a category on the blog now, so they’ll be easy for future generations to find.

  • New World, New Delays

I suppose we ought to be used to this by now.

Just how new and how worldly?

After their final round preview beta over the last few weeks, New World was slated to ship on August 30th.  That date has been moved out to September 28th in an update from the company.

We are humbled by the support New World received from players around the world throughout Closed Beta. During Beta, more than a million adventurers entered Aeternum. Thanks to your support, New World became one of the most watched games on Twitch, and one of the most played games on Steam. The passion and enthusiasm you’ve shown for New World validates the work we’ve put in over the past year, improving the game based on your feedback.

Along the way, you’ve also given us a ton of feedback that we’ll use to make New World even better. We want New World’s launch to be a smooth and fun experience for all players, and that means making some improvements based on what you encountered during Closed Beta. So we’re going to take a few extra weeks to smash bugs, improve stability, and polish the game. New World’s new global launch date is September 28, 2021.

This was not an easy decision to make. We know this isn’t the first time we’ve changed our launch date in pursuit of quality, and that it can be disappointing to wait a bit longer. But we want to be sure we deliver you the highest quality game possible at launch. Thank you for your support and feedback. We’re listening. We’ll see you in Aeternum

Given past delays, another month probably isn’t going to change the launch day pile on very much.  I hope they use the time well.  A month seems like a long time when you’re waiting for something, but it can feel like a vanishingly brief interval when you have code to ship.

  • Switch Sales Hit 89 Million

Nintendo announced that total Switch units sold had passed the 89 million mark as part of their Q2 2021 financial update.  That is a lot of Switch units out in the wild.

My Switch Lite

Looking at the list of best selling consoles of all time, that number puts the Switch within striking distance of the Wii, a huge seller for Nintendo that moved over 100 million units during its reign.  The Switch is still quite a was from the top spots, occupied by the PlayStation 2 and the Nintendo DS line, which solf 155 and 154 million units respectively.

Despite that big number, Nintendo said that sales were down some compared to last year, which was attributed to the fact that everybody and their brother bought a Switch and a copy of Animal Crossing: New Horizons during the pandemic.  Hot vax summer strikes again.

  • FFXIV Subscribers are Up

We have suspected for a while that Final Fantasy XIV has been benefiting from discontent in the WoW player base over the delay in the release of the first major Shadowlands content update.  Anecdotal evidence was mounting, with major WoW streamers jumping ship and word that FFXIV was having to limit new players.

But with the Square Enix Q2 2021 financials, the company confirmed that FFXIV subscriptions were in fact up.  They didn’t say how much they were up, but I bet we’ll hear that they are up even more when the Q3 financials are announced.

  • Chinese Government Frowns Once More on Video Games

You can always count on totalitarian governments to let you know what their leader’s pet peeves are, and video games appear to be on the list.  The Chinese state media lashed out video games, comparing them to opium and declaring that video game addiction was harming children’s growth and eyesight.

For the Chinese “opium” is an especially loaded word as it is associated with western imperialism and interference in Chinese affairs due to the opium wars fought with the European powers that led to a dismemberment of the country.  So using that word about something tends to signal that the government is serious.

This new government displeasure with video games caused Tencent’s stock price to drop as the company, sensing which way the wind was blowing, vowed to implement stronger restrictions on video game abuse, restricting the time minors are allowed to play.  China already has strict limits on video games, and this will no doubt expand those limits.

  • EQII Free Character Boost

A new Producer’s Letter came out for EverQuest II which included an outline for their summer plans including yet another free level 120 character boost for players subscribed via the all access pass.  I am not sure I would have enough character slots, were I to subscribe, to find space for another level 120 character.

  • EVE Echoes Anniversary

EVE Echoes, the mobile spin-off of EVE Online created by NetEase is celebrating its one year launch anniversary.   The game has some big new content in place for the anniversary.

EVE Echoes

The game launched to some acclaim last August, but has its share of issues.  The fact that they started publishing weekly ban stats is a reminder of the perils of free to play I suppose.

  • Amarr Foundation Day

Finally, it is time for another holiday in New Eden, as the Amarr Empire celebrates Foundation Day.  That means specials in the shop, daily challenges, a themed proving grounds event, new monuments, and of course login rewards.

Your Federation Day login rewards

No ISK this time around, but the usual SKINs, fireworks, and skill points are on the menu.  There are five days of rewards and you have seven days to log in daily to claim one, so you can miss two days and still get them all.

Free Final Fantasy XIV Maybe

I continue to maintain that few things in life are actually free, and this is no exception.

IF you are an Amazon Prime member and you have a Twitch account and you have linked your Twitch account to your Amazon account then, right now through May 4, you can get a free copy of the Final Fantasy XIV Starter Edition through Twitch.

Free for a while

It took me a bit to figure out where to claim this.  I saw it mentioned on Twitter and we know that Amazon and Twitch have a couple of methods for handing out free stuff.

As I have mentioned in the past, there is the Twitch Prime page where you can claim games to download via the Twitch client.  It is available there, but due to the way the page is sorted, it is down at the bottom of the list as opposed to up with the free games.

You can also find it via the main Twitch site in a browser.  It is in the Prime Loot menu, the little up at the top of the page.

Prime Loot

You cannot find it in the Twitch Client.  At least I could not find it in the Twitch Client.  It seems like the integration with the client is less than complete.

Claiming your copy seems simple enough.  You click a button to get a code for the game, the follow the link provided to the download page.

Having never played FFXIV, and feeling that was perhaps a bit of an omission on my part, I decided to grab a copy.  I wasn’t burning to play it RIGHT NOW, but could foresee a time in the spring or summer, before WoW Classic looms into view, where I might have the time and inclination to give it a try.  So I downloaded the installer to at least get it setup.

Unfortunately, that is about where my journey ceased.  When I run the installer I get the option to select my region and language:

That’s me!

And then I hit “accept” and the dialog goes away for a flash, only to return and ask me again… and again… and again… and off into the distance so far as my patience will sustain me.

I did the usual thing, ran it as Administrator, but that didn’t help.

The install page, which seemed a little behind the times, suggested that I run it in Windows Vista SP2 compatibility mode… let me remind you that Windows Vista came out in 2006, or a good seven years before FFXIV… but I gave that a shot.  I tried the various Windows 7 modes.  I turned off the virus protection.  I Googled around for some other options, but found mostly variations on the what I had been trying, none of them successful.

I did run across one thread that said if you were running on Windows 10, as I am, that you needed to install DirectX 9 manually first.  That seemed an unlikely solution, since DX9 was from the Windows XP era and we were now getting into things more than a decade before the game launched.

Thinking that there must be an updated installer somewhere, I went poking around for that as well.  I had no luck on the Square Enix site, where downloads were behind a $19.99 barrier.  Likewise, I figured there must be an installer that worked over on Steam.  But that too had a $19.99 tariff in the way.

So I set it aside.  Like I said, I wasn’t in a hurry to play it right away.  I copied the code off for later use.  I’ll poke around a bit more later.  But the option is there.  You can get a free copy, if you have met all the criteria and can get the installer to run.