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South Korean gaming giant, Krafton founded by billionaire Chang Byung-gyu, is growing it’s crypto empire by partnering with blockchain startup Solana Labs to develop play-to-earn crypto games.

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The company behind the popular PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) video game announced on Wednesday that it had signed a business agreement with Solana Labs to make blockchain games that allow players to earn NFTs (non-fungible tokens). NFTs are unique digital assets stored on a blockchain that certifies ownership of a particular item such as in-game assets, photos or artworks

Solana Labs is the company that developed the Solana blockchain, which has recently risen to challenge the dominance of Ethereum as more and more developers are adopting it for decentralized finance projects. Its prominent backers include Sam Bankman-Fried, the billionaire founder of crypto exchange FTX.

Blockchain games, which reward players with cryptocurrencies and NFTs for winning battles or completing in-game tasks, have become one of the hottest trends in the industry over the past year. They accounted for nearly 50% of all usage in the blockchain industry last year, and attracted $4 billion in investments during the same period, according to analytics platform DappRadar.

Krafton, which raised $3.8 billion in Korea’s second-largest initial public offering in August, has been increasing its bets on crypto and blockchain technologies. Last month, the firm said it would team up with Naver Z, the subsidiary of billionaire Lee Hae-jin’s tech behemoth Naver, to develop a metaverse platform that allows users to interact virtually via avatars.

Krafton’s latest collaboration with Solana Labs comes as many of its competitors jostle for a slice of the lucrative blockchain gaming market. Netmarble, the online gaming company founded by billionaire Bang Jun-hyuk, in January revealed plans to roll out about a dozen of play-to-earn blockchain games. Meanwhile, Wemade also developed a blockchain battle game called MIR4, which has become a hit and catapulted its founder Park Kwan-ho to become a billionaire.

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