NCSoft has been hinting about its interest in Web3 for some time. Now, a recent move sees the company invest $15 million in a seed round for Mysten Labs, suggesting the announcement of Web3 games from the publisher may be nearing.
NCSoft is a games developer publisher that has a special place in this gamer’s heart. The South Korean company is one of the most important in the MMORPG world, creating the likes of Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2, Lineage, Aion, Blade & Soul, and WildStar, among others. So, naturally, I have been watching with interest to see if they would make moves toward blockchain gaming.
In late 2021, NCSoft made some statements about the value of blockchain, NFTs, and cryptocurrencies to gaming, and that they are looking into the technology. This, however, was made during an earnings call and at the height of the bull market, so it made sense to raise. However, since then, I had seen little in the way of movement from NCSoft toward blockchain.
This isn’t to say no moves were made by any means. As we have established recently and I have discussed on the podcast, in the last 6 months, every major gaming company I have spoken to has been privately working on Web3 matters, and some have since made them public. Well, NCSoft may well have been doing this too, but the first piece of tangible, public information comes in the form of a collaboration and investment.
NCSoft x Mysten Labs
Mysten Labs is an organization building foundational Web3 tools, created by an all-star team with experience at true blue-chip companies. One of the tools Mysten is building is the Sui blockchain — a layer 1 PoS (Proof-of-Stake) chain aimed at dapps and games that is impossible to say without taking the form of meme-CR9.
Last month, Sui raised $300 million in a highly successful Series B funding round led by FTX Ventures (a parting gift.) This saw cash from familiar names in the space, the likes of a16z, Binance Labs, and Coinbase Ventures. However, it also saw $15 million contributed from NCSoft as part of a longer-term vision and partnership.
Blockchain technology has the potential to create novel and innovative player experiences. We are excited to partner with Mysten, who shares our vision for the technology as a platform for truly distributed player centric economy, passion for community building, and trustworthy technology which is crucial for those who desire to build a platform of desired scale and reach.
Although details on how this partnership might unfold are scarce, it is expected to involve a collaboration on Web3 games, and perhaps, retrofitting of Web3 elements into past titles. One of the proposed Web3 moves in the 2021 Q4 earnings call was exactly that: integration of blockchain into the existing NCSoft ecosystem. It was, unfortunately, as part of the notion to enable play-to-earn in all games, which I would suggest would be a mistake.
This is another important entrant into Web3 gaming by a legacy and legendary publisher and developer. If my desire to see more Web3 MMORPGs is fulfilled by NCSoft, it would warm me through even the bitterest crypto winters.