South Korea Asks App Stores to Abolish 'Play-To-Earn' Crypto Games

Despite being legally dubious in the region already, the games are more popular than ever. Now authorities are asking Apple and Google to step in.

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Play-to-earn (P2E) games where users trade their playtime for crypto earnings are the latest trend to take the crypto community by storm, and the latest subject of a crackdown over in South Korea. Regional newswire Naver was first to report that South Korean authorities have asked Apple and Google to block these games’ domestic distribution.

The request came from South Korea’s Game Management Committee (GMC)—an official branch of the country’s Culture, Sports and Tourism Ministry—as part of South Korea’s ongoing attempts to implement new laws for App Store operators throughout the region. Authorities last announced that as part of these rules, Apple and Google must allow third-party payment systems in their respective South Korean App Stores.

Local lawmakers allege the two companies haven’t been doing a great job of actually complying with that particular payment mandate since it passed in August, and it’s unclear whether this law will have the impact that South Korean authorities are picturing. Some of the country’s top game developers are going ham with P2E games right now, despite often being technically illegal to distribute on South Korean soil already.


As one GMC official explained to CoinTelegraph, this is because some cashouts offered by popular P2E titles exceed 10,000 South Korean won (about $8.40) per pop, which means they technically qualify as “prizes” under current South Korean law. Based on this, the official went on, it’s “reasonable” to keep P2E games from getting the age ratings necessary to be listed in the app store—presumably because doing so would give youngsters access to an irresponsible amount of volatile currency.

These preexisting local laws haven’t stopped P2E operators from distributing their games though, which leads us to the GMC’s latest plea to the App Store operators themselves.

Naver reports that the Committee sent letters this week asking Apple and Google to block app developers from registering on the stores without an existing age rating, either from the GMC or through an in-house grading operator. But if these games can’t get a grading in the first place because of the high earnings that they promise players, then, well.

South Korean authorities have essentially painted game developers into a corner where the only way to be listed is to offer users lower payouts, which seems like a move that would bite players in the butt more than anyone else. But considering how this country has some of the most stringent rules when it comes to how citizens are allowed to earn bitcoin, it’s not surprising to see games—and gamers—coming under fire, too.