Game publishers are aggressively increasing their investment in social casino games as they bet big on legalizing blockchain-based play-to-earn (P2E) games even as regulators crack down on illicit gaming operation P2E.
WeMade, a pioneer in South Korea’s P2E gaming industry, has acquired casual game developer SundayToz known for Anipang for 136.7 billion won ($115.2 million). “We will strengthen the casual gaming lines on our Wemix blockchain platform and expand into the social casino business,” the company said.
Social casino games are online casino games like roulette, poker, and slot machines. Korea only allows free social casino games and players cannot convert game coins to real money as the country prohibits gambling.
NHN, which offers free social casino games such as go-stop and poker, has partnered with WeMade to expand the blockchain business. Some industry watchers expect NHN to update its social casino games to serve them on Wemix in countries where gambling is legal.
Netmarble took a 100% stake in SpinX, the world’s second-largest social casino games developer, for 2.5 trillion won in August, and officially announced that it would launch P2E games. Neowiz has signed an exclusive contract to use Kangwon Land’s KL Saberi slot machine for five years.
Me2On said it would launch blockchain-based social casino titles by applying non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to its metaverse casino platform VR Casino released in 2018. Kosdaq-listed FSN said it would boost blockchain activity with P2E social casino games.
The gaming industry believes that the social casino business could be a long-term cash cow and serve as a springboard for overseas expansion. The industry hopes that the P2E gaming regulations will be released when the social casino extinction regulations are lifted in March.
But the conflict between regulators and gaming companies over lucrative games is escalating in Korea.
The game’s rating and administration committee has notified that it has decided to revoke the rating of Thetan Arena, a P2E game published by Vietnam-based Wolffun Game, industry sources said on Wednesday.
The decision came a month after the launch of Natris’ Infinite Breakthrough Three Kingdoms, the country’s first lucrative game.
By Jin Young-tae, Hwang Soon-min, Kim Dae-eun and Choi Mira
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business News Korea & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]