An interesting press release landed on my electronic desk recently that caused me to dig a little and I found an interesting strategy by subsidiaries of famous Korean games publisher, Netmarble. So, what are Netmarble F&C, Metaverse World, CUBE, and now FNCY? Furthermore, what do they have to do with blockchain gaming and Web3?
The press release I received was for a new mobile game that utilizes blockchain technology, innovatively called Meta Football. There was so little information on the role blockchain plays in the game that I decided there wasn’t enough meat on the bones to publish anything about it. Then today, for whatever reason, I grew curious about this Meta Football. It looked too polished to have just materialized out of thin air without me hearing about it prior to release. Well, there’s a reason for that.
Netmarble has been quietly building a Web3 ecosystem with depth and variety for some years. I say “quietly” because I seldom see any mention of Netmarble or Metaverse World, and so when I peaked through the window, I was both pleasantly surprised and a little confused as to why Netmarbe isn’t regarded as a more senior player in the space.
I decided to document my findings for anyone who Googles the same terms that I did so they (you) don’t have the same troubles.
Who are Metaverse World and Netmarble F&C?
The hierarchy can get a little confusing, but there are essentially three entities in play: Netmarble, the famed Korean games publisher behind Lineage 2: Revolution, and most recently, Ni no Kuni: Crossworlds which does have some Web3 integration.
Netmarble F&C is a subsidiary of Netmarble, formed in 2014, and has created successful titles such as Blade & Soul: Revolution. Eagle-eyed blockchain gamers may recognize the name Netmarble F&C as in February 2022, Binance announced a strategic partnership with the company.
This brings us to Metaverse World, which is such a dreadfully generic name in the space that Googling it yields a sea of irrelevant results! Metaverse World is described by Netmarble as a “platform” but that confuses one of their flagship products which we will return to, so I’m going to refer to them as an entity for now. Metaverse World was formed in 2018 on the EOS protocol, creating some impressive tools, such as an SDK, NFT Rental System, and wallet. (Incidentally, the wallet has continued development through the acquisition of Bono Technologies.)
Despite EOS beginnings, Metaverse World has loftier goals, wanting to create its own dedicated chain. Indeed, this was part of the strategic partnership with Binance: “…the two teams will develop and contribute to the infrastructure of BNB Chain (former BSC) through BNB Chain Application Side Chain (BAS). There will be a private chain for Netmarble to develop on the BNB Chain GameFi sidechain and Netmarble will build GameFi projects that can grow the BNB Chain GameFi ecosystem and the global P2E ecosystem.”
This blockchain is called CUBE chain, which brings us neatly to the CUBE system of products.
What Are CUBE Chain, $ITAMCUBE, and the CUBE Platform?
CUBE Chain is a private blockchain that interacts with public blockchains via two-way bridges, also known as a sidechain. The below graphic does a better job of explaining the functionality of CUBE chain than I can in a single paragraph, so I’ll let it do the work:
CUBE chain, as is to be expected, has its own native token, $ITAMCUBE. There is a total supply of 10,000,000,000 with 600,000 in initial circulation. The token serves all the usual purposes and to learn more about the allocations or more information, click here.
This is where I was going to move onto the platform, CUBE. However, while working on this article, CUBE rebranded to FNCY. CUBE chain still exists, but most of the ecosystem, including the token, is moving under the new banner of FNCY.
What Is FNCY?
FNCY is looking to be a holistic solution to the everyday use of Web3 through a platform that houses games, a wallet, an NFT marketplace, and even entertainment such as webtoons and mixed media.
“FNCY strives for the realization of ‘Blockchain in Everyday Life’. We are creating a Web3 ecosystem where anyone can enjoy our service freely, without facing the hurdle of blockchain technology. We are the true Web3 entertainment platform with all forms of entertainment such as games, web-toons, web-novels, and so on by developing scalable infrastructure through flexible and comfortable sidechain solutions.”
This rebranding of CUBE does include the exchanging of the clumsiest named token in history, $ITAMCUBE, to the more palatable, $FNCY. For more information on the token swap, I’d recommend this blog post.
The platform is on PC, iOS, and Android, and in my limited experience with it, is well-designed and has a pleasing user experience. Finally, let’s go full circle and discuss the game that piqued my curiosity, why it’s particularly interesting, and the other games in development.
Games on FNCY
There are already several playable games on FNCY, one of which is the Meta Football game I received the press release for. I started this article by saying it seems too polished to have just emerged suddenly, and my hunch was right. What Metaverse World/FNCY have done in several instances is repurpose Web2 games with blockchain and a new name.
Meta Football is a futsal-style, PC and mobile (with crossplay support), arcade football game that brings back fond memories of FIFA Street. My suspicions over its quality were compounded when I saw that on Android alone, Meta Football has been downloaded over 5,000,000 times; not bad for a Web3 game that has just been released.
Well, Meta Football was originally Extreme Football, originally released in September 2019 with no mention of Web3; it has been rebranded and on top of everything the first version had, it now has blockchain and NFTs. This strategy has been replicated with other sports games: Two coming soon are Meta Tennis, previously Ultimate Tennis, and Meta Baseball, previously The Slam. There is then one other repurposed title, Yokai: Dual, previously Yokai.
However, there are several original projects too, such as Grandcross S and Grandcross W, a collectible RPG and a strategy game respectively, Paragon: The Overprime, a MOBA, and Golden Bros, a 3-vs-3 shooter. (Incidentally, the closing down of Epic Games’ Paragon left me heartbroken — I loved that MOBA!) Golden Bros seemed to be Metaverse World’s flagship Web3 game, designed specifically to have earning elements. However, there’s a project that interests me more: Arthdal Chronicles.
Arthdal Chronicles is a fantasy television series that saw tremendous success in South Korea, with an impressive 8.3 on IMDB. This partnership with FNCY/Metaverse Worlds sees the creation of a game of the same name, utilizing the officially-licensed IP. We don’t have too much to go on yet, but it’s an open-world MMORPG using Unreal Engine 4, so it’s safe to say this is a project that required heavy investment and is one to watch closely.
Netmarble: The Quiet Web3 Giant
I work in blockchain gaming full time, 7 days per week most weeks — it is a passion, an obsession, and a career. If you asked me Netmarble’s interest in the metaverse, I would have cited Ni no Kuni and then some scraps of information, but I didn’t realize the extent of Netmarble F&C, Metaverse World, CUBE, and now FNCY. This may well be a failing of mine due to it not being as easy for me to keep up-to-date with Web3’s growth in Asia, which has been the continent most forward-thinking in the space.
Whatever the case, Netmarble is a quiet Web3 giant that is flying under the radar of many, particularly in the West. The primary product, FNCY, and the work Metaverse World is doing to populate and build the platform, is leading to an impressive ecosystem that has the potential to be an effective on-ramp into blockchain gaming. Netmarble is a titan in Asia and a highly-respected publisher in the games industry at large. The company’s comprehensive play for Web3 could see them well situated for the future of gaming.