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Studio Behind Smash Hit PUBG Series Will Make Solana NFT Games

The PUBG battle royale series has more than a billion downloads across platforms, and now its publisher is building on Solana.

3 min read
The publisher of PUBG will make games on Solana. Image: Krafton

In brief

  • PUBG game maker Krafton will develop games on the Solana blockchain.
  • Krafton and Solana Labs will collaborate to develop and market games, as well as make investments together.

Major traditional video game makers are beginning to explore the Web3 gaming space, experimenting with NFT assets and cryptocurrency-based economies in the process. Now, another notable game studio with a massively popular franchise is making plans to develop blockchain-based games—in this case, on Solana.

Today, South Korean game publisher Krafton, Inc. revealed a long-term agreement with Solana Labs, with plans to work together to develop and market blockchain and NFT-driven games that run on the Solana network. The firms also plan to explore co-investment opportunities.

Krafton is the company behind PUBG: Battlegrounds (originally PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds), a popular battle royale shooter franchise that spans multiple platforms. The series has logged more than one billion downloads for its mobile iOS and Android edition, along with more than 75 million combined downloads for its PC and console entries.

The PUBG games see up to 100 players drop into a single online map and battle it out to be the last player or team standing. The original PC game—which was initially a premium title—was launched in 2017 and predates Epic Games’ popular Fortnite battle royale game.

The free-to-play PUBG Mobile has reached an even wider global audience, and mobile analytics firm Sensor Tower reported in November 2021 that the game has generated more than $7 billion in revenue to date via in-game purchases. The studio also recently launched a separate, futuristic-themed PUBG mobile title called New State Mobile.

Krafton has yet to announce whether it will bring PUBG or another franchise into the Web3 space or create new IP for NFT-driven blockchain games on Solana. While PUBG is Krafton’s best-known IP, the publisher also owns franchises such as Subnautica and Tera, and publishes mobile games like Golf King and Bowling King.

“Krafton will continuously see ways to work closely with blockchain companies like Solana Labs as we work toward establishing our Web 3.0 ecosystem,” said Hyungchul Park, Krafton’s Lead of Web 3.0 Roundtable. “Through this cooperation, Krafton will acquire the insight needed to accelerate its investment in and output of blockchain-based experiences.”

In February, Krafton revealed other Web3 initiatives, including equity investments of $2.5 million in online auction platform Seoul Auction Blue and $4.1 million in its XBYBLUE subsidiary. Krafton will work with Seoul Auction Blue and XBYBLUE to develop NFT-related projects.

Separately, Krafton announced a deal with Naver Z to build an "NFT and metaverse platform." An NFT is a unique type of token that is used to demonstrate ownserhip over digital assets, such as video game items. The South Korean firm operates Zepeto, an online metaverse-like social and gaming experience that claims some 20 million monthly users, per a report from TechCrunch.

Krafton launched a $3.8 billion IPO in South Korea last August, which Bloomberg hailed as the country’s largest in more than a decade, however it was widely seen as falling short of expectations. As of this writing, Krafton has a market cap of 13.9 trillion South Korean won, or about $11.4 billion.

Other notable traditional game publishers that are playing in the NFT space include Ubisoft and Square Enix, while well-known game designers like Will Wright and Peter Molyneux are also working on NFT-powered games. The most successful crypto game to date, the Ethereum-based Axie Infinity, has generated more than $4 billion worth of NFT trading volume.

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