PUBG studio inks deal to develop ‘blockchain- and NFT-based games and services’

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Krafton, the studio behind PUBG, has announced a partnership with blockchain company Solana Labs. It says the deal will see the two companies cooperate on the development, operation, design, and marketing of “blockchain- and NFT-based games and services.” Solana Labs develops the Solana blockchain, an Ethereum-competitor designed to offer fast transaction speeds at low cost.

The partnership comes a little over a month after Krafton announced its intention to get into the world of blockchain gaming and said it would be working with Naver Z to build “a new Web 3.0 and non-fungible token (NFT) project aimed at building an NFT metaverse platform.”

The important context for these deals is Krafton’s share price. The Financial Times notes it has dropped sharply this year in the face of stiff competition from Chinese rivals, who are pouring into its home market of South Korea following a crackdown from regulators in Beijing. In response, Korean developers are reportedly racing to develop “play-to-earn” titles integrating blockchain technology to shore up revenue.

Krafton’s deals come as some Western developers have had to publicly distance themselves from blockchain gaming products following backlash from fans and developers alike. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl developer GSC Game World publicly walked back its plans to add NFTs to the upcoming game, while Team17 abandoned its NFT project after at least three of its development partners expressed their opposition to its plans.

The South Korean studio hasn’t announced which of its titles might see the addition of blockchain functionality or whether it’ll be integrated into its flagship PUBG series. The game’s PC title experienced a surge in popularity earlier this year after going free-to-play, while PUBG Mobile has been downloaded more than 1 billion times. A second free-to-play mobile PUBG game, PUBG: New State, was released last year.

“Krafton will continuously see ways to work closely with blockchain companies like Solana Labs as we work toward establishing our Web 3.0 ecosystem,” said Krafton’s Web 3.0 roundtable lead, Hyungchul Park. “Solana represents the best of the Web 3.0 ecosystem and its technologies. Through this cooperation, Krafton will acquire the insight needed to accelerate its investment in and output of blockchain-based experiences.”