South Korea’s NHN to build blockchain games on Sui

NHN Corporation, a South Korean entertainment conglomerate with over US$2.4 billion in total assets, announced Friday that it has partnered with U.S.-based Mysten Labs, the developers of the Sui blockchain, to launch an on-chain game scheduled for 2024. The partnership arrives despite a ban in South Korea against all blockchain-related games.

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Fast facts

  • “What excites me about building with NHN is what we’re beginning to refer to as ‘stickiness’ for users,” Evan Cheng, CEO and co-founder of Mysten Labs said in an emailed press release. “It’s a code Web3, as a whole, has not managed to crack, with daily active users on the most popular chains barely topping 300,000. At Mysten Labs, our mission is to bring the benefits of Web3 to the masses, by the billions.”
  • NHN Corporation, which started as a game company in 1999, says it has over 37 million registered users on its mobile game titles such as Friends Pop and social casino game Hangame Poker.
  • Sui is a layer-1 blockchain network built by Mysten Labs, a Palo Alto-based company founded by engineers who previously worked on Meta’s Diem stablecoin project. Mysten Labs said in Friday’s press release the Sui blockchain is well suited to supporting games given its low fees, fast transactions and high degree of scalability. 
  • South Korea has the fourth largest gaming market in the world. It totaled nearly 21 trillion Korean won (US$15.72 billion) in annual revenue in 2021, according to a report from the Korea Creative Content Agency from January.
  • Games that involve cryptocurrencies or NFTs in South Korea are banned. The law is enforced by the Game Rating and Administration Committee and prohibits firms from promoting speculative behaviors to players via cashable rewards. All video games must acquire an age rating from the game rating committee for South Korean release. 
  • South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol promised to abolish the play-to-earn (P2E) ban in his election campaign last year. But he is yet to follow through on the promise. South Korean P2E game makers have released blockchain-based games abroad, hoping that the local ban will be lifted. 
  • Mysten Labs and NHN did not respond to Forkast’s email request for additional comments sent Monday morning in Asia.

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