Many traditional or “Web2” video game studios around the world are developing new games that take advantage of blockchain, cryptocurrency, and NFT networks. Some of the biggest studios in the game industry around the world are exploring Web3, with appetites across genres and platforms—from PC shooters to mobile games and multiplayer metaverse worlds.
And most of the game publishers on this list are headquartered in Asia, with only one based in the United States and one in Europe—a dominance that resonates. DappRadar’s prediction that Asia can rule the Web3 gaming space.
Japanese video game studio Square Enix—maker of the Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts titles—has been exploring NFT video games since 2019. In 2021, the company released a sold Ethereum-based collection. NFT trading cards. About six months ago, Square Enix sold his Tomb Raider IP as well as the three studios it owns to help fund its blockchain and AI research and development activities.
Last year, the studio announced that it planning to release an NFT game, Symbiogenesis, on the Ethereum sidechain network Polygon. Square Enix is calling the upcoming game a “collectible art project” that will feature a narrative and a mystery that players must solve over the course of the game.
The publisher also previously invested in metaverse game The Sandbox and announced plans to bring its Dungeon Siege IP into the gaming world. Square Enix also released Final Fantasy VII NFT-based trading cards on Polkadot’s Enjin’s Efinity platform, tied to physical statues and collectibles.
South Korea-based video game publisher Nexon is making a new MapleStory game called MapleStory Universe that uses Polygon NFTs. Nexon shared that it has its own private network or Polygon “Supernet” for the game.
The original MapleStory games have earned over $4 billion for the publisher, and have seen over 260 million players to date. MapleStory Universe Group Leader Hwang Sun-Young said the studio will work closely with Polygon Labs throughout the development and marketing process.
Krafton, the South Korea-based publisher of PUBG: Battlegrounds and PUBG Mobile, plans to launch an NFT-enabled metaverse game under the working name. Migaloo. Players will be able to create their own digital assets under what Krafton calls a “create-to-earn” system.
The studio has established a majority stake in a new joint-venture firm with tech company Naver Z. Together, Krafton and Naver Z will develop Migaloo and plan to release it sometime this year. In 2022, Krafton also said it will develop Solana games with Solana Labs.
Zynga is an American gaming company known for casual smash hits like Farmville, CityVille, and Words With Friends. Last year, Zynga announced that it was developing games that use NFTs in an effort to “future-proof” its business.
While little has been announced since, Zynga appears to be moving forward with its Web3 gaming division. Its website currently lists a job posting for a software engineer for the department, with the goal of creating “sustainable Web3 games” for the studio.
Zynga’s parent company Take-Two Interactive is one of the largest game publishers in the world, with franchises such as Grand Theft Auto, NBA 2K, and Red Dead Redemption in its portfolio. Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick spoke about the opportunities in the Web3 world, and the company invested in Web3 game developer Horizon in 2022.
French game publisher Ubisoft is one of the few western video game studios to openly explore NFTs in its games. Back in 2021, it launched free Tezos NFTs for Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint. While those NFTs were aesthetically simple and launched in a game with few active players left, it still caused a lot of backlash online from angry players who didn’t like the idea of NFTs in games.
In response, Ubisoft says that NFTs in gaming is a “huge change that will take time” and continues to develop blockchain integrations for future games. In 2022, Ubisoft said it was still researching how to implement NFTs in its titles.
This year, Ubisoft released NFTs based on it Rabbids IP game in the metaverse game The Sandbox and launched “Smart Collectibles” from Assassin’s Creed—a move that mixes physical collectibles with digital NFT components. Previously, Ubisoft created One Shot League, a spinoff game from the NFT-based fantasy soccer game Sorare, and launched a Rabbids NFT experiment in 2020 to benefit charity.
Korean game publisher NCSoft is the creator of titles like Guild Wars, Blade & Soul, and the Lineage series. It invested in blockchain firm Mysten Labs’ $300 million Series B funding round last year, and shared plans to develop NFT games on the newly launched Sui blockchain.
Mysten Labs builds infrastructure for Sui network and believe that Sui is well optimized for video games that use crypto and NFT transactions. More games are being launched on Sui in the near future, although NCSoft has yet to reveal its specific plans.
Com2us is the South Korean game developer and publisher behind Summoners War. But the studio has expressed strong interest in blockchain games and is developing games that offer NFTs and crypto integrations through the XPLA blockchain.
The company’s US President Kyu Lee said Decrypt in a message that the studio plans to release about 10 to 15 blockchain games per year and that most of them will be on mobile.
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Korean game publisher Wemade has just released World Fishing Championship, a play-and-win fishing game for Android mobile phones. It also plans to release two more blockchain games this year: R1B and Night Crows. R1B is a baseball game, and Night Crows is a high-concept fantasy MMORPG adapted into a Web3 game for a global audience.
Wemade also promoted its crypto gaming platform Wemix Play at the Game Developers Conference in March 2023. A Wemade representative told Decrypt via email that Wemix Play is intended to be like a Steam store for crypto games.
Wemix Play now offers an NFT market and has more than 50 games from external indie developers planned for its platform, most of which offer players the ability to “play and earn” various crypto tokens. At the time of writing, Wemix has 28 different game tokens listed on its platform as well fan token. The majority of Wemix’s most popular live games are RPGs, but a few puzzle and strategy games also cracked its top 20 list.
Editor’s note: This article was updated with additional information after publication.