South Korea’s gaming regulator has extended the scope of its crypto and blockchain gaming freeze-out by warning developers they must remove play-to-earn titles from the Google Play and the Apple App Store.
As reported last month, the regulatory Game Rating and Administration Committee (GRAC) reiterated its hardline stance that games that feature tradeable non-fungible tokens (NFTs) cannot be given age-appropriate licenses – effectively barring them from distribution in the country.
Other blockchain titles have also been barred if they make use of tradeable cryptoassets. South Korean gambling laws are among the tightest in Asia, and the government sees NFT and play-to-earn titles as a form of speculation.
Some developers have attempted to bypass the GRAC’s rulings by releasing their titles directly to the Google Play Store and Apple’s marketplace.
But this week, Hanguk Kyungjae reported, the GRAC has announced that it will move to block this course of action – and will require firms to apply to it for permission to release titles to the Google and Apple marketplaces.
The app marketplaces will also be told to block games that require in-app purchases prior to playing.
The GRAC set the tone for its crackdown in 2019 when it refused to issue a rating to Infinity Star, a game created by the domestic developer NodeBrick. The body claimed that the use of NFTs in the game was its main reasoning for the ruling, which it has since upheld in legal battles.
Critics in 2019 claimed that the GRAC had “sentenced the domestic blockchain gaming industry to death.”
Developers have responded by launching most of their titles overseas – but are known to be keen to debut their offerings on the lucrative domestic market.
Major industry players have told Cryptonews.com that a softening of the GRAC’ stance was likely in the future – but there appears to be scant evidence of this so far. Optimists will hope for a more lenient stance from the next government, with South Korea heading to the polls in a general election next spring.
The GRAC’s stance means that titles such as Axie Infinity (AXS) cannot be downloaded in South Korea, despite their enormous popularity elsewhere in Asia.
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