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Netmarble to make a big bet on metaverse

CEO offers rosy outlook for metaverse games, content business

Netmarble Chairman Bang Jun-hyuck on Thursday speaks at a press conference at the company’s new headquarters in Guro-gu, Seoul. (Netmarble)
Netmarble Chairman Bang Jun-hyuck on Thursday speaks at a press conference at the company’s new headquarters in Guro-gu, Seoul. (Netmarble)

South Korean game giant Netmarble said Thursday it will launch metaverse games that allow hyperconnection between the real world and virtual reality, expanding its footing in the fast-growing blockchain industry.

“We plan to develop metaverse games that allow users, either individuals or companies, to gain virtual assets that can be exchanged for real assets such as currency through blockchain technology,” said Netmarble Chairman Bang Jun-hyuck.

The metaverse concept has been used as limited term describing interaction between users through game characters and communities. But metaverse games will become another reality for new users who seek to find innovative ways to attain wealth, Bang added.

Netmarble is developing Everyone’s Marble - Metaworld, a metaverse sequel to its board game that has been played by over 200 million users worldwide.

The mobile game takes place in a metaverse version of Korea where users, through their avatars, can buy and sell land and buildings through nonfungible tokens.

In the international version, the game will be “play-to-earn,” letting users earn a tradeable currency that can be exchanged for real money. Since P2E games are banned in Korea, the Korean version will only allow NFT trades.

Bang said Netmarble also plans to present Metahuman virtual female idols named Hena, Lina and Siu later this year. Represented by Metaverse Entertainment, Netmarble’s development arm, the three idols will perform as singers and actors as well as appearing as Netmarble game characters.

Netmarble’s metaverse business will be backed by the company’s two-track blockchain strategies with separate control towers, Bang said.

The Netmarble headquarters will be in charge of developing games using blockchain technology while Netmarble F&C oversees the new blockchain-based contents business that intertwines games, Metahuman and webtoons.

Netmarble is also on the move to create synergy with other industries such as entertainment.

Following two games featuring members of K-pop phenomenon BTS, the company plans to release a rhythm game called BTS Dream TinyTan House.

Watching the BTS characters dance to their songs, users can rhythmically bounce along with their thumbs, said Park Beom-jin, CEO of Netmarble’s development unit, Netmarble Neo.

The game giant laid out its goals to bolster global business as well. According to Bang, global sales revenue accounted for 74 percent in 2021 and is expected to surpass 80 percent this year.

“With the new CEO of Netmarble global business, Lee Seung-won, the company plans to target the Western market, in particular, by attending to the needs of local users and acquiring local game studios,” Bang said.

By Byun Hye-jin (hyejin2@heraldcorp.com)
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