Game Developers Battle Over International Market
A battle over play-to-earn (P2E) games in South Korea between the government and the industry has yet to show any signs of abating as the authority continues to ban the genre at home for its speculative nature.
The country maintained its tough stance even as local game developers desperately seek a much-needed future growth engine to improve earnings and support ailing stock prices.
The Game Rating and Administration Committee under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism is in the process of canceling the rating classification of 32 P2E games registered in the domestic mobile app market, according to the industry sources. Those titles are expected to be removed from the app markets, the sources said.
In South Korea, mobile games are subject to a self-review before releases, unlike PC, online and console games that require a pre-review, so the authority took regulatory measures against those P2E games after their launches.
FAST-GROWING GAME GENRE
P2E games enable players to make money while they are playing games. Players are allowed to own items and characters through blockchain technologies applied to the games and change items into coins to buy other items, as well as those in other games that use the same blockchain platform. In addition, users can cash in through exchanges.
The industry sees P2E games as a promising genre, considering its fast growth.
The global blockchain game market is forecast to soar up to 66 trillion won ($51 billion) by 2025 from 5 trillion won last year. “Blockchain-based games are a trend. It is desirable to allow launches of P2E games and regulate side effects,” said Bang Jun-hyuk, chairman of NetMarble Corp, the South Korean developer of Lineage 2: Revolution, earlier this year.
NO P2E GAMES IN KOREA
South Korea, however, continues to prohibit P2E games in the country due to their speculative nature. The government has been regulating such games with the strictest rules around the world since a gambling game created serious trouble in the country in 2004.
The industry officials recently asked Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Park Bo Gyoon to allow domestic launches of P2E games, but the ministry did not ease its stance, saying “we have to take a comprehensive approach considering both their new technologies and speculative nature.”
The industry stressed features to make money in P2E games are just additional functions that raise players’ interest.
“No one can hit the jackpot or make a living in P2E games,” said an industry source, adding those games are just rewards for players’ time and money or allow users to use earnings for other games. As the government has yet to ease its stance, the industry is targeting overseas markets.
WeMade Co., the country’s first developer to apply the P2E gaming model, launched Mir4 with P2E features in August last year and the massive multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORP) became a global hit with more than 1.4 million concurrent users. Netmarble, South Korea’s top mobile gaming company, decided to add P2E functions to an overseas version of Seven Knights Revolution, which will be released later this month at home.
Source: Seung-Woo Lee, the Korea Hearald (May 2022)
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