MapleStory Universe was originally planned to launch on Ethereum scaling network Polygon, as announced this time last year—but on Monday, South Korean gaming giant Nexon revealed that it will use the Avalanche blockchain instead.

Spun off from the classic MapleStory massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), MapleStory Universe will embrace blockchain elements like unique in-game items tokenized as NFTs. And it will do so via a dedicated Avalanche subnet, which Nexon will use to launch the first game under the umbrella, MapleStory N.

Asked why Nexon opted to move away from Polygon, MapleStory Universe Partnerships Lead Angela Son highlighted what the team sees as the benefits of using Avalanche. She said that Ava Labs, the core team behind the chain, has been assisting with server and infrastructure needs as MapleStory Universe gets up and running.

“Avalanche is secure on the tech side and has proven to be capable of successfully onboarding [and] supporting various GameFi projects over the past two years,” Son told Decrypt’s GG.


A source familiar with the situation told Decrypt's GG that Nexon opted to look elsewhere after Polygon Labs discontinued support for Polygon Edge, which lets projects build custom Ethereum-compatible chains. The source added that Nexon and Polygon Labs mutually agreed to part ways ahead of the game publisher's decision to use Avalanche instead.

MapleStory N is expected to launch on PC by the end of 2024. Nexon will use an Avalanche subnet—a dedicated, customizable instance of the blockchain—to operate the game, the same as has already been done by the studios behind games like Shrapnel and Off the Grid.

“We plan to utilize Avalanche's subnet to maximize the unique characteristics of blockchain-based games, such as transparency and reliability,” said Son. “For example, [MapleStory N] is being designed so that when game items are modified through enhancement related data can be stored on the subnet.”


MapleStory Universe will focus on user-generated content, according to an announcement, and potentially benefit players who create for the game. “Not only can players in the Web3 version of MapleStory build worlds, they can be rewarded for doing so,” the release reads.

That’s sure to be a differentiator as MapleStory charts a new future in the crypto world, 21 years after the debut of the original free-to-play PC game. Son said that building around unique, tokenized in-game items can provide a broader array of experiences for players.

“Limited item quantity is key because it reinforces the user reward experience,” she told Decrypt’s GG. “In the Web2 MMORPG world, there are skill trees available online, which often leads to identical level-up paths for a lot of users. Per contra, since MapleStory N has a fixed item quantity, there will be competition among users to obtain items in various locations within the map.”

“Although this is expected to lead to more intense gameplay,” Son added, “we think it’ll serve to enhance the new fun factor of MapleStory N.”

Edited by Stacy Elliott.

Editor's note: This story was updated to include context about the split between Nexon and Polygon Labs, and to tweak the headline as a result.

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