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.
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.