Blockchain’s game revolution may unfold a bit more slowly than expected, at least in Korea.
Block Post, the blockchain news site of Korean-language business news website Financial News, reports that the Game Rating And Administration Committee (GRAC)’s failure to craft regulations to rate blockchain games is proving to be a stumbling block to local distribution. The committee is responsible for designating age ratings for video games, which are vendors are required by law to enforce.
That many blockchain companies aren’t applying for ratings for lack of personnel or time isn’t helping matters. Some companies are even forgoing local service altogether, focusing instead on overseas service.
According to Block Post, only if game developers apply for ratings will the GRAC move more aggressively to develop regulations.
Block Post cites the example of the game “Crypto Sword and Magic,” which recently launched service without bothering to get a GRAC rating. This obviously got the GRAC’s attention. An official from the committee told Block Post that they were monitoring the situation and considering whether to hand down some administrative guidance.
The GRAC says the problem with Crypto Sword and Magic isn’t that it’s a blockchain game, but that it launched distribution without a rating. It adds, however, that it recognizes the importance of blockchain and had formed an internal task force to conduct continuous research, presumably into blockchain technology and its regulatory implications.
According to the GRAC, the only game to apply for a rating was “Yuna’s Closet,” which applied for one in May. And for its trouble, the game was denied a rating by the GRAC, who handed down a “rating pending” decision citing concern that the game — which uses cryptocurrency — could encourage gambling. According to Block Post, the committee may have taken into account the widespread cryptocurrency speculation that was taking place in Korea at the time.
The result? According to a game industry official, game developers have shunned applying for a rating, opting instead to launch local service on the down-low or launching service in overseas markets only.
Block Post cites the example of Crypto Dozer, which made quite a splash globally last year. Its Korean developer chose to block service in Korea.
Industry experts say if developers avoid applying for ratings, the GRAC may not state its position about rating blockchain games. A gaming official said the GRAC has begun preparations to rate blockchain-based games ahead of an anticipated flood of blockchain games by Kakao’s Klaytn and listed game developers. The official also said if small developers lack the wherewithal to prepare for the rating process, big companies and listed game companies with experience with the rating process would take the lead.
Study time over?
On the bright side, GRAC’s blockchain study period may be approaching its end.
Korean-language news site News1 reports that the GRAC could wrap up its internal deliberations to craft standards for blockchain games in October. The committee would use these standards to decide whether to allow the use of cryptocurrency in games.
The GRAC said on Monday that the committee would judge how cryptocurrency is being used in blockchain-based games and decide on the direction going forward regarding the ratings process. It said it would complete its analysis of the blockchain game market by the end of the year.
News1 points out that while there’s concern that permitting the distribution of games that use cryptocurrency such as “Yuna’s Closet” could lead to the proliferation of casino-style games that use cryptocurrency too, there’s also concern within the game industry that by banning the use of cryptocurrency in games, Korea was passing leadership of the quickly growing blockchain game industry overseas.
There’s growing feeling, in fact, that the ban serves as a form of reverse discrimination against Korean developers since local users can access recently released foreign-made games.
About this, a GRAC official told News1 that there are still gambling concerns should users be able to turn the cryptocurrency they win in a game into fiat via an exchange. Still, the committee would quickly create standards for one-off coin issuances.