South Koreaâ€™s gaming regulator has reiterated its stance that games that feature tradeable non-fungible tokens (NFTs) cannot be distributed in the nation.
As previously reported, in 2019, the Game Rating and Administration Committee (GRAC) refused to issue a rating to Infinity Star, a game developed by the domestic firm NodeBrick â€“ citing NFTs as its main reasoning.
Critics at the time claimed that the GRAC had essentially â€œsentencedâ€ the domestic blockchain gaming industry â€œto death.â€
Since then, NFTs and blockchain gaming have taken off around the world, with titles like Axie Infinity drawing in millions of users all over the globe. Not so in South Korea, though, where the hit title remains effectively banned.
Gaming firms must obtain age-appropriate rating certificates for distribution on most stores in South Korea. The GRACâ€™s refusal to issue such a certificate is as close as the watchdog can come to issuing a ban â€“ although many gamers in the country do navigate around such obstacles.
In a Reuters report published today, the GRAC did speak overtly of â€œbanning,â€ however, citing â€œconcernsâ€ that games featuring tradeable NFTs â€œcould fuel gambling addiction among teens and the very young.â€
The news agency quoted a GRAC official speaking â€œon condition of anonymity as she wasnâ€™t authorized to speak with the mediaâ€ as stating:
â€œItâ€™s not the blockchain technology that we are banning. What we are saying â€˜noâ€™ to is the application of NFT that can be connected to real assets.â€
The news agency added that this â€œbanâ€ had not stopped South Korean game makers like WeMade â€œfrom going ahead with global releases,â€ including the blockchain game MIR4, which was unveiled in August.
The title â€œhas attracted more than 1.3 million players overseas, sending the firmâ€™s share price skyrocketing more than 600% since the launch,â€ Reuters noted, adding that the firmâ€™s market value â€œhas also shot by over 11 times to USD 5.55 billion during the same period.â€
Last year, the CEO of WeMadeâ€™s blockchain gaming subsidiary told Cryptonews.com:
â€œRegulations will change in parallel with industry development and they will move in a direction that will prove to be comparatively moderate.â€
Speaking to Cryptonews.com, Yoon Da-hee, a Seoul-based gamer and IT professional, opined:
â€œThe government is swimming against the tide with NFTs and the gaming industry. Itâ€™s time to take a more pro-business approach to both the blockchain industry and gaming â€“ two sectors that are now overly regulated.â€