More and more publishers are looking toward new technologies like game streaming and blockchain infrastructures as potential avenues towards revenue growth.
Like its competitors EA, Microsoft, and Ubisoft, Square Enix is interested in jumping into the game streaming realm. This kind of digital focus is nothing new for the Japanese games-maker, however, and there are signs it may open up its own Steam-like digital storefront and browser combo. The publisher has also significantly embraced the games-as-a-service business model by experimenting with various online engagement strategies in key games like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. This may only be the beginning and we could see Square Enix push into subscriptions similar to Xbox Game Pass as well as a service similar to Microsoft's upcoming Project xCloud streaming.
In a recent New Year's letter to investors, Square Enix president Yosuke Matsuda discussed the company's interest in latent technologies like blockchain and game streaming.
"With the subsiding of the cryptocurrency bubble, the use of blockchain technology has spread to a variety of non-cryptocurrency domains as well," Mr. Matsuda wrote.
"One has been the gaming space, where there have been some interesting developments with games and game platform services using blockchain technology. We are also very interested in potential applications for blockchain technology in the digital content space."
Games-makers are making some interesting strides with blockchain. Ubisoft, for example, has created an entire game using blockchain that actually lets players earn in-game cash for sharing worlds. This digital cash can then be converted into bitcoin, meaning publishers will likely use blockchain as another way to monetize their games.
Game streaming is another advent that will change the industry as we know it. I recently wrote that Google's new Project Stream service is the future of gaming thanks to its convenience and ease-of-use, and I think this is just a taste of what's to come.
Both EA and Microsoft are also working on game streaming services, and Square Enix will start to plan for a strongly interconnected digital-focused games industry that includes this new development. This ultimately means the company will try to evolve and pivot towards the latest trends instead of away from them, giving clues on what kinds of things to expect from them and how these plans could affect future games.
We could see a Final Fantasy game streaming service that offers access to a fully anthology of franchised games across all platforms, all for a monthly premium. Or perhaps an entire catalog of Square Enix-published games, all wrapped in a storefront ecosystem-browser similar to Bethesda.net.
Here's what Mr. Matsuda said about game streaming:
"Meanwhile, cloud streaming services for gaming have at last begun to show signs of taking off. Streaming is likely to bring a number of new platform operators into the market in addition to the existing console providers, while platform holders are also joining the PC gaming space.
"These developments produce a growing number of avenues through which game publishers and developers can provide content.
"In particular, game streaming services will be the ultimate driver of a rapid transition from the sale of games in boxes to digital consumption. Streaming also lends itself to new subscription-based business models, so we believe deciding how to engage with these forthcoming trends will be key to future growth."