Sega COO backs away from blockchain

Sonic the Hedgehog unsure NFTs are golden rings worth collecting

Sega's co-COO Shuji Utsumi has said the Japanese gaming giant still hasn't figured out what blockchain is good for, and may not make it part of a flagship "supergame" slated for a 2026 release.

Speaking to Bloomberg at a games conference, Utsumi said Sega is not "denying the potential" of blockchain but, he added, "We are trying to figure out what is the best way to entertain the audience. [We are] evaluating, searching, learning."

Sega is still pondering blockchain because, in part, some gamers have expressed a dislike for "play to earn" features that see players given in-game incentives to earn non-fungible tokens.

"We are very careful because we understand that especially Western gamers are not big fans of our Web3 initiative," Utsumi explained in this video interview.

The COO also said Sega is yet to decide if a forthcoming "supergame" – expected to feature multiple Sega characters, and which Sega expects will revive its fortunes – will employ blockchain or related Web3 technologies.

Utsumi's remarks appear to represent a reversal of the sentiment he expressed in 2022, when in an interview published on Sega's own site he enthused that Sega "is currently focusing on new areas such as metaverse and Web3."

At the time he added news that "Sega has invested in several Web3 and metaverse startups as part of its open innovation efforts. Through these companies, we are accumulating various know-how, and we are researching every day what we can achieve by combining Web3 technology and Sega's resources, and what kind of business we can build."

It appears those efforts, like so many other attempts at putting blockchain and Web3 to work, have produced little.

Which is not great news for Sega. Analyst firm Gartner recently rated gaming as the sole bright spot for metaverses.

NFT markets, meanwhile, display little of the buoyancy predicted when the tokenized assets burst onto the scene – along with predictions that digital collectibles would be enthusiastically adopted by many. Indeed, The Australian Financial Review this week reported lenders to buyers of "Bored Ape" NFTS are asking some very unpleasant questions about repayments given the tumbling value of the digital art. ®

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