KRAFTON, the South Korean games publisher most famous for the hit battle royale, PUBG, has officially announced its metaverse project in partnership with NAVER Z.
KRAFTON is one of the most significant gaming entities inside and outside of Asia, and the company has been flirting with Web3, the metaverse, and blockchain technology for several years. In late 2021, we started to hear rumors that KRAFTON was working in some capacity within Web3, but it wasn’t until early 2022 that we saw an official move.
In February 2022, KRAFTON partnered with NAVER Z in an effort to work on an “NFT metaverse platform” and the pieces started moving toward something that resembled a final picture. Not only were they at work on this metaverse project, but the equity arm of the business was fleshing out the approach as I noted 15 months ago: “The $2.5m and $4.1m USD investments in Seoul Auction Blue and XBYBLUE respectively come with an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) to “develop non-fungible token (NFT) oriented projects.”
By combining KRAFTON’s existing technologies and research on how to build scalable Web 3.0 creator-driven ecosystems with NAVER Z and ZEPETO’s experience and capabilities, we’re confident we can build a high-quality UGC-driven open metaverse that stands apart from other services and vitalizes the global creator economy through NFT technologies.
— HyungChul Park, Lead of Web3 Team, KRAFTON, February 2022
What’s interesting is that although some of the details have changed, the underlining intention behind KRAFTON’s moves into Web3 remains the same and with the same people: creator-centric metaverses and NAVER Z. As you can see in the above quote back in February 2022, creators are front and center of this project and that remains the case with the latest announcement.
Project Migaloo, a Creator-Focused Metaverse by KRAFTON and NAVER Z
In a recent press release, KRAFTON announced Project Migaloo, a joint venture between the company and NAVER Z. NAVER Z, a subsidiary of NAVER, runs ZEPETO (why is everyone shouting?), Asia’s largest metaverse platform with over 300 million users and 15-20 million monthly active users (MUA).
The two companies have invested around $36.8 million USD and I surmise that this is aimed to be similar to ZEPETO, but with a focus on markets outside of Asia as the venture is based in North America. The model the metaverse will be using is “Create-to-Earn (C2E)” which is exactly as it sounds and “allows content creators to build works in the metaverse that users can purchase and own using NFTs and blockchain technology.”
There are a few takeaways here. Firstly, although KRAFTON has invested in various Web3 projects, joined Mythical Games’ Mythos Foundation DAO, and even partnered with Solana (I’m unsure if this is still active), there hasn’t felt like much meat on the bones of KRAFTON’s Web3 existence. This project is something of substance with their name attached and that’s a strong message. Although KRAFTON is famous for Blue Hole’s PUBG, the publisher has other brilliant titles under its control, such as TERA, an excellent MMORPG that could house blockchain seamlessly.
The second major takeaway is that this is yet another string to Asia’s Web3 bow. I recently discussed DappRadar and Pacific Meta’s report on Asia being in a strong position for Web3 gaming dominance, and this is another sizable piece of evidence for that thesis.
Finally, I want to highlight the Create-to-Earn (C2E) model. That, it seems to me, is one of the most effective and promising applications of blockchain in games, building on the rise of games such as Roblox and Minecraft. The creator economy ought to be the backbone of Web3 and it seems KRAFTON has identified that.