Hello, and welcome to the first GYGO of 2023! My name is December and I have indeed played nothing but Harvestella since it came out. I love it, it scratches the Rune Factory dungeon-dive/farm-sim itch (even if it is more on the sci-fi side), and it plays like a weird, slice-of-life Final Fantasy. And, unfortunately, speaking of Final Fantasy:

Square Enix President Yosuke Matsuda Commits to the Blockchain Again in His New Year’s Resolutions

In his annual New Year’s Letter from the President, Matsuda opens with a recap of the global economic conditions, including hardware shortages and the effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, before shifting to a review of what was planned for 2022, and what was achieved (including the sale of several studios to Embracer group). He admits that 2022 was a “year of great volatility in the blockchain-related space.” Still, he asserts that despite more conversations about the blockchain being driven more by “speculative investors than by gamers,” Square Enix “hope[s] that blockchain games will transition to a new stage of growth in 2023.” Keep hoping, I guess, but if all the excitement comes from investors and not consumers… who will you sell to?

This is now the second year in a row that Matsuda has promised (cough, threatened) to include blockchain gaming as a central tenet of Square Enix game development going forward, and the first steps have already been seen: in early November, Square Enix teased Symbiogenesis, an NFT “art and free browser service” set to launch sometime in spring 2023 (with a Discord server opening next month).

His letter also notes that 2023 is the 20th anniversary of the Enix and Square Soft merger, which I am personally offended by because it makes me feel incredibly old.

Microsoft Goes for a Constitutional Argument Against the FTC

Remember how last week, we covered Microsoft getting sued by the FTC (and a group of 10 gamers)?

On December 22, Activision Blizzard filed their response to the FTC (which can be read in full here), which claims, among other things, that the FTC’s blockage of the acquisition violates Articles II and III of the U.S. Constitution, as well as the company’s Fifth Amendment right to Equal Protection. It seems like Activision Blizzard is hoping to get this matter taken to court, but given what just happened with the Penguin Random House/Simon & Schuster merger, I wouldn’t be surprised if the merger is now just dead in the water (and I’m crossing fingers for it). Microsoft has not issued a response to the 10 gamers as of writing this article.

In other news…

STALKER developer Volodymyr “Fresh” Yezhov, one of several Ukrainian game devs fighting against the Russian invasion, was confirmed killed in combat in a battle near Bakhmut.

GSC released a new trailer for STALKER 2: Heart of Chornobyl on December 29.

Atlus’ new year message teased several unannounced new titles for 2023, and rumors are already starting that at least one of them is a Persona 3 remake, which seems a little strange considering that we’re only two weeks away from the remaster. It’s fine, we’re fine, Persona fans are totally fine and normal people.