Why South Korean game dev Delabs is all-in on blockchain

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In the latest episode of his Blockchain Gaming World podcast, editor-in-chief Jon Jordan talks to Quinn Kwon, the head of web3 strategy for South Korean games developer Delabs Games, which is developing three titles: Rumble Racing Star, Space Frontier and Meta Bolts.

This transcription has been edited for length and clarity.

BlockchainGamer.biz: Can you give us some background to Delabs Games?

Quinn Kwon: Delabs Games is a South Korean gaming studio. We’re actually a branch from our current company, which is 4:33 Games, which might be more familiar to some listeners. 4:33 has been developing mobile games for more than 13 years and has had a lot of blockbuster games, both in Korea and worldwide. We developed a lot of games for Korea in the beginning, but then we moved on towards a more global audience. And our next step in gaming is blockchain. 

At Delabs, we’ve been developing three different blockchain games for the past two years, and we’re pretty close to launching our first game, which is Rumble Racing Star.

Why did 4:33 launch Delabs rather than doing blockchain itself, and why make blockchain games at all?

I think the second question is easier to answer so I’ll start with that. The separate entity is because of legal issues in Korea. I’m not an expert on this but as a South Korean company, there are some issues with 4:33 serving blockchain games, which is why we made a subsidiary that focuses on blockchain games. 

The second part I can explore in more detail. So our CEO, James Kwon, used to be CEO of Nexon, and then he created 4:33 but his background is that he used to be a psychology professor. So, two years ago when we started development for blockchain, what was really interesting – and what I’ve always talked with James about – is the psychology that blockchain can bring to games.

The first thing is being able to own your assets. I think that’s really powerful. Currently if you spend your time and energy and money playing a game, you never know what will happen to your assets, and there is no outside monetary value. But blockchain solves that problem by tying it into an actual economy and being able to own that asset, knowing that it’s verifiable on the blockchain. And we see that psychology as a really powerful thing. 

And the second thing, which is more important, is the alignment aspect that blockchain can bring. So both in terms of technology and ethos, we see that blockchain is a lot about community and community-driven initiatives. 

In the game industry, it’s been gamers who have been monetized and the game development company has been trying to monetize these gamers. But in the web3 space, there are a lot of mechanics in place to reverse this, either by playing, by creating content, by sharing content: community members can go out and expand a game’s ecosystem and its lifecycle so it lives for a longer time and creates more revenue.

Then we can create different ways to share this revenue and have the same interest alignment with the gamers, the creators, the content creators and the game development companies. So these are the two psychological aspects we see in blockchain that are really powerful when tied to gaming.

Can you talk about Rumble Racing Star?

Rumble Racing Star will be the first game launched by Delabs. It’s a lawnmower-themed kart racing game, a very casual party-type game. The main producer also was the producer on Crazy Racing Kart Rider, who James knew from Nexon, so we brought him in and a lot of his team members to build this game. 

And the game is really connected with the idea of community and participation. We’re creating this platform where communities can come in and play amongst each other and grow the ecosystem in that way. One way we’re doing this is partnering with lots of PFP NFT projects. We’re talking to those projects to bring in their communities. You can imagine a Bored Apes versus Goblintown tournament.

So we’ve spoken with a lot of projects. Some weren’t into gaming, but Goblintown – which is one of our closest partners – was actually thinking about a kart racing games so everything lined up really perfectly.  

How does interoperability work for these NFTs?

Because our game is 3D, built on Unity, it’s really difficult to bring in every single NFT in a collection into the game so our approach is to have a representative character from the collection in the game. But if holders connect their wallet to their game account, then you can use your NFT as your profile picture and the flag on the back of your kart, or use it as a decal. There are a lot of use cases we are thinking about.

So we have our launch partners and we’ll see how that goes. But the game isn’t just about PFP integration. We have our own characters and we’re are focused on building different game modes and racing modes and doing all the quality assurance before the game goes out and making sure that everything is set in place and really fun for everyone, even if you don’t own a PFP.

Our next step will be our closed beta Summer Camp event running from 1st to 7th August, which will have lots of themed activities, themed tournaments, themed races and then, after the closed beta is done, we’re looking towards open beta, which we hope to do around October. 

What can you tell us about your second game Space Frontier?

I’m really excited for Space Frontier. It’s really different from Rumble Racing Star. It’s a space-themed survival and crafting MMORPG. You have to survive on the planet, building and crafting different items and materials. There’s also a personal planet which you get to build on. You go to the public planet to raid monsters and get materials. You can also build temporary structures there. 

It’s more of an open world where a number of participants will be able to come in and play together. So that game is currently in development. We have a really skilled producer working on the game. He used to work on RF Mobile [a well-known Korean RPG IP].

Timing-wise, we’re looking to do an internal alpha in August with a beta build in December. Launch-wise, I think we’re going to see how Rumble Racing Star goes. If we want to focus more energy on it, we may delay the launch for Space Frontier

And what about Meta Bolts?

Meta Bolts is a Japanese anime-style character collection action RPG. So this is in this character collection genre, but we’re trying to solve a lot of problems this genre had in the past. 

We know it’s a popular genre and the art style is amazing, but in previous character collection games there have been a lot of issues with centralization, where you have a character you get attached to but the developer releases a new character and changes the meta, which overpowers all the previous characters you’ve spent time and energy growing. 

So with Meta Bolts, we want the players to build a connection with the characters they’re growing so we’ve separated the characters and their skills and abilities. We have a diverse skill library so you don’t have to replace the character, you just have to integrate the new skill. That’s what’s really unique about Meta Bolts

And again the producer, at Delabs we want to create games based around what the producer is best at so we brought in the best producers James had worked with in the past. For Meta Bolts, the producer used to work on character collection game King’s Raid so he knows all the ins-and-outs of character collection games. 

Can you also talk about your Adventure Pass NFT?

We created the Delabs Adventure Pass as an entry point or a VIP pass into the web3 space for the holders. It will definitely enhance the experience of playing these three games as holders will get more benefits in terms of the web3 aspect of our games, as well as some web2 in-app purchases. 

We also wanted to do community building before our games came out and a lot of members have been really active in terms of Rumble Racing Star’s private party. More generally, I think everyone who’s played Rumble Racing Star has given us really great feedback. Everyone’s enjoying the game a lot, so I think we’ve a pretty good reception and I’m pretty excited to see what kind of reception we’ll get when we get the game out to a bigger audience.

Keep up-to-date with Delabs via its website and Twitter.

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