The blockchain gaming restrictions recently broadened in South Korea, forcing developers to remove play-to-earn apps from Google Play and Apple Store.
A month ago, the board of South Korean state gaming authority Game Rating and Administration Committee further endorsed their restrictive attitude towards crypto gaming apps making use of NFT (non-fungible and tradeable tokens) technology.
The board announced that these games will no longer be able to obtain licenses that approve they are age-appropriate. In turn, developers will be unable to distribute these apps in the US.
Furthermore, any blockchain game that relies on trading crypto assets is to be outlawed.
The South Korean legislation towards gambling is known to be draconian and among the most rigorous in the continent, because it recognizes play-to-earn gaming titles employing NFT as speculative businesses.
From the perspective of the state, the intention is not to block the development of the fast-growing South Korean gaming industry, whose value grew from 5.4 in 2007 to more than 18 trillion Korean won this year.
The Game Rating and Administration Committee declared that the motivation for such acts is to protect society from gambling risks. For decades, South Korea is known for restrictive legislation towards gambling.
There have been some industry actors that tried to dodge these new regulations and put their crypto gaming apps directly to Apple and Play Stores.
Nonetheless, GRAC soon stressed that it will tackle these cases as well. The state will issue regulations that will legally bind companies to ask for official permissions to publish crypto gaming apps on Apple and Google marketplaces.
At the same time, the state will call for downloads of such games to be disabled by major marketplaces.
The local blockchain gaming industry responded with a harsh critique, claiming that this regulatory body is being overly restrictive, and threatens the industry’s survival. Although the newest restrictions don’t prevent developers to launch their games elsewhere, some companies don’t want to accept losing the US market.
Albeit some voices inside the industry hoped that GRAC will eventually soften, this did not happen. On the contrary, GRAC seems to impose new restrictions.
Still, some changes in the near future are possible, as the next elections in South Korea are approaching and are to be held this spring. The crypto gaming industry has high hopes for the next government’s legislation in terms of gaming policies.
The clashes between gaming and gambling industries on the one side, and strict South Korean gambling laws are nothing new. In 2004, an arcade game called Sea Story was allowed in the country as long as it awards winners with gift certificates instead of money.
However, the results were quite dramatic. The company spotted a legal loophole, allowing cashing out of the certificates outside of the arcade game machine. They soon installed cashing centres right next to the machines. The game attracted a lot of players and caused many citizens to lose their earnings.