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Let me begin this piece with an admission that I knew little to nothing about South Korea-based sport developer and writer Wemade earlier than I used to be provided an interview with its CEO, Henry Chang, when he visited the UAE in August this 12 months. However my ignorance in regards to the firm says extra about me not being a lot of a gamer, than something else- in spite of everything, Wemade is a publicly listed billion-dollar-business whose choices have been (and proceed to be) made use of by lots of of hundreds of thousands of individuals all over the world. And when Chang tells me he was acknowledged by individuals on the streets of Dubai on account of the Wemade-branded jacket he was carrying on the time, it is greater than sufficient impetus for me to wish to study extra about him and his firm.
Wemade is maybe greatest recognized for being the makers of the extremely profitable massively multiplayer on-line role-playing sport (MMORPG) sequence, Legend of Mir, which has followers from all over the world numbered within the lots of of millions- actually, Chang proudly tells me that greater than twenty years after its launch, the title’s mental property continues to be as cherished by (and related to) avid gamers as we speak because it ever was. I discover this to be a sign of how Wemade has seemingly cracked the code of making one thing timeless, whereas additionally staying in tune with the times- and this may also be seen within the transformation it’s at present ongoing from being a standard online game firm to now changing into an open platform for blockchain video games.
For the uninitiated, blockchain video games are video video games that make use of blockchain-centered applied sciences like cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) of their gameplay. Presently a nascent trade, Wemade has got down to place itself as a frontrunner on this area with the launch of Wemix, its open blockchain gaming platform, and its eponymous token. Whereas there are solely 17 video games hosted on Wemix as of October this 12 months, it is already house to a smash hit: MIR4 World.
Launched by Wemade in August final 12 months, MIR4 World went on to safe 20 million cumulative customers inside only a 12 months. MIR4 World’s success bodes effectively for the blockchain gaming ecosystem, particularly contemplating that the sport reached 6.5 million month-to-month lively customers in just some months, regardless of having no formal advertising and marketing campaigns to assist its launch. “I feel it is secure to say that MIR4 World is probably the most profitable blockchain sport ever,” Chang says. “The sport proved that it’s potential to make an pleasurable, well-made blockchain sport for gamers, a sport that individuals would like to play not simply to earn cryptocurrencies, however for the sheer enjoyable of the gameplay.”
Observe right here Chang’s level about individuals desirous to play MIR4 World purely as a sport, and never only for the rewards it presents. It is a enormous win for Wemade within the area of blockchain video games, and with a purpose to perceive why, Chang suggests beginning by inspecting what differentiates them from their “conventional” counterparts. “Blockchain video games are characterised by in-game property that current each financial worth and real-world use circumstances,” he explains. “Initially, conventional in-game property have been contained and trapped inside the sport. When these property are owned by the gamers as an alternative of the gaming firm, it offers them a way of possession. Customers can now freely and in a seamless method purchase, commerce, and stake their in-game property. These parts set aside blockchain video games from conventional mainstream video games.”
Henry Chang, CEO, Wemade
Now, it is this chance to earn property in blockchain video games -usually cryptocurrency tokens of 1 form or the other- that has these days led to the eruption of the play-to-earn (P2E) mannequin on this panorama. “P2E was some of the well-liked key phrases within the gaming trade final 12 months,” Chang notes. “Within the crypto market, it is handled as the following massive factor. Though the inventory costs of the gaming industries in Korea are stagnant proper now because of microeconomic instabilities akin to inflation, final 12 months, the inventory costs of the sport firms skyrocketed after they talked about the phrase P2E, NFT, or blockchain. The P2E mannequin has been popularized within the press and by some crypto communities largely as a result of these tokenomics-focused video games are designed to offer financial gain- earlier than anything.”
And therein lies the issue that has materialized alongside the rise of the P2E mannequin within the gaming ecosystem. “Creating video games from the place of economic engineering, versus from a sport developer’s perspective, has led to larger barrier to entry. Gamers persistently cashing out and never contributing to the ecosystem, and video games that misplaced their major leisure worth and felt extra like handbook labor,” Chang explains. “P2E video games are additionally related to social points associated to gaming dependancy, and enjoying them as a full-time job deprives total societies of their human capital and negatively impacts their productiveness too.”
It’s to subvert such penalties that Chang is pushing for higher adoption of what Wemade is asking a play-and-earn-and-pay mannequin within the gaming sphere. “Due to the aforementioned points and extra, I don’t consider a purely tokenomics-dependent P2E ecosystem is sustainable and scalable,” Chang says. “It’s then vital to return to the essence of gaming, which was at all times about bringing leisure worth with well-made video games. The play-and-earn-and-pay mannequin places well-made video games on the heart of ecosystem, and it offers the premise of a sustainable ecosystem by incentivizing customers who benefit from the sport to not simply play and earn cryptocurrencies or NFTs, however to speculate their earned tokens again into the ecosystem by upgrading their characters, and so forth.”
This could clarify why Chang sees the success that MIR4 World has seen as such an ideal win for Wemade and the gaming panorama at large- the truth that it had greater than 1.4 million concurrent customers shortly after it launched is a testomony to the sheer prowess of the sport. “As many within the gaming trade know, that is an distinctive consequence for an MMORPG, which usually takes extra time to undergo and end the sport,” Chang provides. And Wemade is not sitting on its laurels- it is already pushed out its newest providing. “We not too long ago launched MIR M, the most recent spinoff of the Legend of Mir sequence regionally in June, with a worldwide launch anticipated later this 12 months,” Chang says. “There was some nice preliminary response to MIR M, which makes me assured the worldwide model will do even higher than MIR4.”
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Established in 2000, Wemade is a global sport developer writer that has grown from a handful of passionate sport pioneers to a bunch of over 1,300 sport fans. / Supply: Wemade
All of this are good tidings for the blockchain video games trade as effectively, Chang says. “Not solely does it show to the world that it’s potential to make well-made video games embedded with blockchain expertise, but it surely additionally exhibits that avid gamers who’ve been accustomed to conventional Internet 2.0 video games for many years have embraced this new expertise with open arms as effectively,” he says. This, in flip, is a shot within the arm for the guess Wemade has made on its Wemix platform. “As we additional broaden our Wemix platform ecosystem, we count on its a part of income will develop exponentially,” Chang says. “Though the platform’s income is weak now, I count on Wemix to be on the heart of our gross sales sooner or later. I firmly consider we’re heading in the right direction to succeed as an open blockchain sport platform, equally to what Apple’s App Retailer and Google’s Play Retailer have achieved.”
At this level, Chang acknowledges that there stays a specific amount of hesitancy towards blockchain video games from the standard gaming group at large- nevertheless, he additionally believes that it’ll subside as blockchain adoption turns into extra prevalent in our world. And that, he predicts, is when Wemade’s early funding on this area -i.e. Wemix- will permit it to develop into the dominant world platform by default. “Our final aim is to create a mega ecosystem, and develop into the Steam of blockchain video games,” Chang says- for the non-gamers studying this, Steam is the most important distributor of private pc video games on this planet as we speak.
“Yearly, there are round 50,000 information video games launched, and I consider that within the close to future all these video games can be blockchain video games,” Chang continues. “In-game gadgets have at all times existed even in Internet 2.0 video games; nevertheless, with blockchain expertise, customers are capable of take these in-game gadgets out into the true world enhancing the person gaming expertise. By placing all our efforts into blockchain expertise, we purpose at changing into the worldwide open blockchain sport platform by default, enabling lots of of latest video games to onboard our platform every year, and profit from blockchain expertise and our ecosystem even with out earlier information within the blockchain area.”
At this level, in case of any of you assume that it is a lofty ambition for Wemade to make in a fledgling trade that has additionally been rocked not too long ago by a crypto winter, Chang is right here to assist disprove you of that notion. “Primarily based on my 26 years of expertise within the gaming trade, I firmly consider that blockchain gaming is the longer term,” Chang declares. “As a publicly traded firm with over 20 years of company historical past, Wemade is effectively forward in comparison with its rivals, and we are going to put every little thing we now have into preserving it that manner regardless of the present market circumstances.”
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Supply: MIR4 World
Chang admits right here that as a comparatively new expertise, blockchain nonetheless has an extended strategy to go by way of laws, implications, and even applications- however from Wemade’s perspective, it represents a possibility, relatively than a problem. “When Bitcoin was first launched in 2009, like many individuals within the gaming trade, I did not consider it was particular again then, and handled it like some type of sport cash that gamers use in video games,” Chang recollects. “I, alongside a lot of my colleagues, thought we knew every little thing about sport cash, and that it was absurd to make use of it exterior video games and in actual life. However now, because of the few modern individuals who acknowledged early the potential of the expertise, after which utilized it to develop enterprise options and industrial development, we now have arrived to the place we’re as we speak.”
Chang at present professes a steadfast perception within the potential (and energy) of blockchain, and that’s what he has channeled to guide Wemade via the instability that has been seen within the crypto panorama via the course of 2022. “Our response to the turbulence within the present market has been to give attention to offering utility to the customers, and making extra investments and strategic partnerships to strengthen our place as a number one world open blockchain sport platform,” Chang says. “Even again in 2018, throughout the earlier crypto winter, we did not hand over, and we spent human assets into growing our blockchain expertise and companies; we proceed to do the identical even now.”
Chang speaks with the boldness attained by working for 26 years in gaming- actually, he began out within the trade when he was nonetheless a senior at school. His first job was at Nexon, which was then a Seoul-based small enterprise with fewer than 10 employees- as we speak, nevertheless, it is without doubt one of the largest sport firms in South Korea, in addition to one of many largest listed firms in Japan. Following an extended stint at Nexon, he joined one other sport writer, Neowiz, as its Chief Monetary Officer, after which grew to become Head of the Strategic Planning Division of Neowiz Video games, earlier than lastly occurring to guide Neowiz Cellular as its Chief Govt Officer. Chang then joined Wemade in 2013, and he was appointed its CEO a 12 months later.
Chang’s profession trajectory ought to make it clear that he’s somebody who’s extraordinarily well-versed with the trade he operates in, and that ought to function purpose sufficient for why his viewpoint on the potential blockchain presents on this panorama should not be taken evenly. “What’s fascinating is that as somebody who spent his total profession within the gaming trade, there isn’t a doubt that role-playing video games, just like the MMORPG Legend of Mir sequence, already present an analogous idea to a metaverse, and it’s fascinating to see how the remainder of the world is now embracing this new expertise and idea,” Chang says. “I consider on the coronary heart of the metaverse are video games, and that there are quite a lot of thrilling new developments to occur within the area throughout the close to future.”
Chang reveals right here that the MENA figures strongly in Wemade’s aspirations for the longer term, and he factors out that MIR4 World has been capable of create a powerful fanbase within the area. “MIR4 World ranked first throughout the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar amongst role-playing video games on the Google Play Retailer again in March 2022, and it has succeeded in sustaining its prime three rank in a number of MENA markets even now,” Chang says.
“As well as, the MENA is vital from a blockchain improvement perspective. The MENA presents licenses for crypto coin platforms, and we’re within the strategy of making use of for one. As soon as achieved, we are going to transfer a few of our improvement group to the area, and develop a state-ofthe- artwork blockchain platform and crypto hub.”
And it isn’t simply a rise within the Wemade person base that Chang hopes to see ensuing from the MENA- he is additionally hoping to see an increase within the variety of stakeholders from the area as effectively. “Wemade is a listed firm in South Korea, and I want to invite MENA institutional and retail buyers to purchase our shares and our WEMIX coin, which is listed in additional than 25 exchanges all over the world,” Chang says. “I consider each Wemade’s inventory and the WEMIX coin current very enticing funding alternatives, as they’re each liquid and under-valued contemplating their enormous development potential. I actually have been shopping for WEMIX coin with my wage and bonus revenue from the marketplace for the final seven consecutive months, and I don’t intend to cease till I retire; I additionally haven’t and won’t promote a single WEMIX coin.”
It is fascinating to notice right here that the conviction with which Chang speaks about Wemade’s endeavors within the blockchain gaming area today- it’s actually in stark distinction to the angle with which they had been seen when the corporate was simply beginning out on them. “For the primary three-and-a-half years, our blockchain gaming enterprise did not appear like a lot from the skin,” he says. “However when MIR4 grew to become the primary business hit globally in August 2021, I used to be very thrilled to comprehend that I have been proper all alongside. And throughout the previous 12 months, the thrill has been rising inside me day-after-day, at each second.”
Chang is thus watching with glee because the constructing blocks of a brand new digital blockchain-centric economic system involving NFTs, decentralized asset organizations (DAOs), decentralized finance (DeFi), and extra get put into place, and when all of it really comes collectively, he’s aiming for Wemade “to develop into the dominant open blockchain sport platform, because the primary world mainnet.” Chang not too long ago revealed particulars about WEMIX$, the stablecoin of its mainnet Wemix 3.0, throughout his keynote speech on the TOKEN2049 occasion held in Singapore in September. “Stablecoins have to be steady,” he mentioned. “That is the primary requirement. WEMIX$ meets that via 100% USDC [a digital stablecoin pegged to the United States dollar] reserve.”
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Wemade has continued to develop and repair dozens of PC and Cellular based mostly video games for fun-loving avid gamers since its inception.
Following that, Chang continued by itemizing “steady/native coin reflexivity” as a second requirement for a profitable stablecoin. “When a stablecoin is doing effectively, it ought to have an effect on the native coin,” he defined. “The native coin should be capable of seize the demand and commerce of stablecoin. Thus, the reflexive relationship between stablecoin and native coin have to be structured.” As a 3rd and closing requirement, Chang listed scalability, which WEMIX$ secures via Wemade’s DIOS protocol, which, in flip, will let it broaden in response to the ecosystem’s development.
The aspirations Chang has for Wemade, together with the outcomes it has already achieved with him at its helm, additionally function a testomony to his management of the corporate, which, by the best way, is a realization of a childhood dream he needed to run “a giant, nice firm.” “There’s an previous saying that ‘good issues take time,'” Chang says. “After I make plans for enterprise and new expertise that can decide the longer term, I attempt to assume for the long run, like, say, in ten-year durations. In 2018, all gaming firms had been concerned about blockchain video games, and a few entered the market. However all of them gave up throughout the crypto winter that occurred afterward. Wemade was virtually the one firm that saved up, as a result of we thought it would take ten years to succeed from the beginning. I consider that establishing your imaginative and prescient, crafting your methods, and taking steps to attain your aim in the long term is the important thing to the success and development of your organization.”
That is clearly the identical imaginative and prescient that’s governing Chang as he oversees Wemade’s ongoing investments within the crypto realm. “We’re making investments in blockchain firms and tasks with nice potentials all around the world, and we now have been fairly profitable in our endeavors, to place it mildly,” Chang explains. “We have now been making important investments in blockchain and sport firms to broaden our Wemix ecosystem from its present gamecentric strategy to later embody all different sorts of x-to-earn fashions, akin to move-to-earn, watch-to-earn and so forth. To take action, we make investments and are closely concerned within the improvement of our portfolio of startups, based mostly on our trade information and blockchain experience. The latest examples of such investments had been within the luxurious trend metaverse ALTAVA’s TAVA coin, and the watch-to-earn short-form platform CELEBe’s FANC coin, and SNKRZ, a subsequent era move-to-earn challenge.”
Wemade is thus all set to proceed its daring foray into the world of blockchain, however I can not assist however level out to Chang that questions and doubts proceed to rise in regards to the expertise’s purposes in the true world. Chang replies that he can establish with this sentiment- he too has wrestled with this question at one time limit, however he additionally believes he has discovered a response to it within the trade he operates in. “For me, personally, an important query that each cryptocurrency has to reply is: ‘The place is that this going for use?'” The query continues to be legitimate now, and there are a lot of cash on the market that also cannot reply this query. I discovered that the reply lies inside games- and that is once I grew to become sure that cryptocurrencies will flourish in video games… When skeptics ask, ‘The place can we use cryptocurrency?’, video games can present solutions,” Chang concludes.
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