South Korean online gaming giant Netmarble announced plans to launch about a dozen new games that use blockchain and metaverse technologies.
“The blockchain-based games made by Netmarble will integrate the enjoyment of games, along with intangible assets through NFT, and I believe that the gaming industry will grow even bigger than it is now,” Bang Jun-hyuk, the billionaire founder and chairman of Netmarble, said in a press conference.
Bang, 53, announced that Netmarble is preparing to launch 20 new games, of which about 70% will use blockchain technology. One of the new games, called A3: Still Alive, is a play-to-earn game that allows users to monetize intangible in-game assets, such as weapons, with cryptocurrency. A3: Still Alive will be Netmarble’s first play-to-earn game and is expected to be released in March.
Most of the 20 new games are aimed at gamers overseas, said Bang. Play-to-earn games are banned in Korea as regulators are concerned that play-to-earn games could fuel gambling addiction among the youth. “If an in-game system allows users to exchange items with paid goods, there may be a chance of speculation, where the game may fall into the ‘age 18+’ classification, and not available for the youth under 18,” the Korean Game Rating And Administration Committee said in a statement on Friday.
Another game, called Everybody’s Marble: Metaworld, will use metaverse and NFT technologies, allowing players to purchase land in a virtual world. Players can also build and trade “NFTized” real estate, Netmarble said in a statement. NFTs are digital assets stored on the blockchain that certify the authenticity of objects such as music, artwork, and in-game items.
“The metaverse will not only transplant various elements from the game, but also converge with the blockchain technology to create a second real world beyond the virtual,” Bang said.
Bang’s distant cousin, Bang Si-hyuk, the billionaire founder of Hybe, is also optimistic about NFTs. In early November, Hybe, the agency behind K-pop powerhouse BTS, said it would team up with Korea’s largest cryptocurrency exchange operator to issue NFT photo cards of its artists.
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Apart from Netmarble, other Korean gaming companies also showed interest in blockchain and cryptocurrency. MIR4, a blockchain-based game developed by Wemade, had helped the Korea-listed company’s shares surge more than 400% in three months after it was available globally in August last year. The share price rise made its founder, Park Kwan-ho, a billionaire.