Sega Corp., a renowned gaming studio famous for titles like ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ and ‘Yakuza,’ is scaling back its involvement in blockchain gaming as the industry continues to grapple with the effects of the global crypto meltdown. Co-Chief Operating Officer Shuji Utsumi shared with Bloomberg News that Sega will refrain from participating in third-party blockchain gaming projects with its major franchises to preserve their value. Furthermore, the company has temporarily halted the development of its own blockchain games.
This strategic shift marks a notable departure for the 60-year-old firm, which previously joined the ranks of Square Enix Holdings Co. and Bandai Namco Holdings Inc. in advocating for the use of blockchain technology to enhance the appeal of its games. At the time, platforms such as Axie Infinity, where players earned tokens by playing, were gaining traction. However, the collapse of the digital currency market severely diminished the allure of such projects.
While Sega has decided to withhold its prominent characters, like those from ‘Three Kingdoms’ and ‘Virtua Fighter,’ from the blockchain space, it does plan to allow external partners to utilize them for non-fungible tokens (NFTs). NFTs act as digital asset certificates, confirming ownership. Sega initially received criticism from gamers when it announced its intention to join the NFT community in 2021, as many viewed crypto technology as environmentally detrimental.
“What’s the point if games are no fun?”
In an interview with Bloomberg News, Utsumi expressed his dissatisfaction with play-to-earn games, stating, “What’s the point if games are no fun?” He also expressed uncertainty about incorporating Web 3.0 technology into Sega’s upcoming “super game” initiative—a series of high-budget online multiplayer games set to launch in 2026. Utsumi mentioned that Sega is currently assessing whether this technology will truly gain traction within the industry.
Sega’s cautious approach aligns with the broader industry sentiment towards web3, an internet architecture built on blockchain technology. Once a topic that attracted significant investments from companies like Andreessen Horowitz, web3 has experienced a cooling-off period due to low interest and criticism. Ubisoft Entertainment SA and other peers have also scaled back their investments in NFT games.
However, Sega does intend to collaborate with various blockchain games later this year, allowing its lesser-known franchises to participate. The company will continue to invest substantial amounts in related projects, seeing the technology’s value in enabling the transfer of characters and items between different games. Sega remains open to further involvement as blockchain technology matures.
In line with Sega’s cautious approach to blockchain gaming, NFTCulture agrees that the absence of joy in games represents a significant gap in the web3 and NFT gaming ecosystem. Without a focus on delivering fun and engaging experiences, the industry risks falling short of its potential for success.
The success of blockchain gaming depends on striking the delicate balance between novel technology and the age-old desire for entertainment. While the integration of blockchain and NFTs brings unique opportunities for ownership and tokenization, these elements should serve as enhancers to the overall gaming experience rather than becoming the primary focus.
NFTCulture recognizes Sega’s decision to withhold its major franchises from third-party blockchain gaming projects as a wise move to protect the value and integrity of their beloved IPs. This decision demonstrates a commitment to preserving the quality and enjoyment associated with these iconic games. It serves as a reminder that developers should prioritize delivering exceptional experiences and avoiding actions that may dilute the essence of their games.