• A South Korean game developer and a cryptocurrency exchange have joined forces to take gaming to the next level

  • Gamevil, a mobile game developer, has purchased a significant stake in cryptocurrency platform Coinone, with plans to develop blockchain-based gaming.

    South Korea’s gaming industry has been thriving since the advent of computer games — people of all ages were ardent supporters of Starcraft in the 1990s and 2000s, and League of Legends in the 2010s. South Korean game developers are always looking for new ways to bring new computer or mobile phone games to market — and now they’re looking to blockchain.

    As of 2019, Korea had the world’s fifth-largest gaming industry, accounting for 6.2 percent of the global gaming market. Furthermore, according to the Korea International Trade Association, the country’s gaming industry generated a trade surplus of US$6.4 billion in the same year, accounting for a whopping 16% of the country’s total trade surplus (KITA).

    In the country, there are over 10,000 PC bangs, or internet cafes, where people pay about a dollar per hour to play their favorite games on modern equipment. Over the last two decades, watching e-sports, or professional gaming, has become a popular pastime, with top-ranking gamers such as Lee Sang-heyok, or Faker, amassing fan bases comparable to those of famous K-pop stars.

    Gamevil, one of Korea’s most prominent mobile game developers, announced Thursday that it is acquiring a significant stake in Coinone, one of the country’s four major cryptocurrency exchanges. With this acquisition, Gamevil surpasses Cha Myung-hoon, Coinone’s CEO, as the company’s second largest shareholder. The game developer obtained an additional 21.96 percent share on top of its existing share, totaling 38.43 percent of Coinone’s shares.

    With stronger ties to Coinone, Gamevil is looking to incorporate blockchain technology into its gaming infrastructure — it says it will actively discuss developing blockchain-based games and an exchange for NFTs with the cryptocurrency exchange (non-fungible tokens).

    In fact, Gamevil already has a task force within the company dedicated to developing an NFT exchange with various South Korean content. for the advancement of NFT exchanges based on K-content It goes on to say that using blockchain technology is in line with Korea’s and the world’s rapidly changing gaming trends.

    In South Korea, however, the release of games containing blockchain or NFT elements is prohibited. The Game Rating and Administration Committee refuses to assign age ratings to blockchain-based games, preventing them from being officially released. According to a committee official, many of these games offer users play-to-earn or random NFT rewards, which may encourage speculative behavior.

    Kim Suk-hwan, CEO of blockchain game developer Wemade Tree, argued earlier this year at a policy meeting that the committee should at the very least review the games individually, and then punish those that do not follow the rules. Kim Kyun-tae, a partner at blockchain startup Hashed, agreed that “it does not make sense to shut down the entire industry just because the [blockchain game] issue is sensitive.” Meanwhile, after being released outside of Korea first, Korea’s blockchain-based games, such as Wemade’s MIR4, have gained widespread popularity.

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