Are the Metaverses games?

South Korean lawmakers are wondering if the metaverses are games. An important question because it will determine the legal regime that will apply to it. For the industry, these are not games and should not be subject to protective legislation.

  • South Korean MPs question the definition of the metaverse and question whether they should be likened to online games;
  • The question is important because it will determine what legal regime will apply to the metaverses;
  • According to game makers interviewed by parliamentarians, metaverses are not games and should not be subject to (protective) video game legislation (in particular, allowing more freedom in choosing economic models);
  • Also, depending on the industry, specific legislation (based on self-regulation) should apply.

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“Metaverse” is undoubtedly one of the buzzwords in the new technology industry. To some, this should be seen as one of the possible futures of the Internet: “web3” immersing users in 3D virtual universes, able to explore through virtual or augmented reality, based at least in part on blockchain technologies, and which will make it possible to receive information, be entertained , consume or even work together. For others, the metaverse would be nothing more than a modern version of virtual universes that already existed many years ago (from World War II to Second Life) and which would ultimately be very close to MMORPGs – especially since the main designers of the metaverse today also are developers of online games.

In this still very evolving context, how about defining the metaverse and its connection to online gaming? In other words, are the metaverses a (new) subcategory of video games? This is the question currently being asked by South Korean parliamentarians, who intend to both define the concept of the metaverse and determine how these worlds should be governed.

And the question is important because the definition of the metaverse will determine the legal regime to which these virtual worlds will be subordinated. This morning, South Korean parliamentarians listened to several players in the South Korean video game and new technology industry to reflect on this issue (including, in particular, the boss Cocoa Games) and apparently they unanimously believed that the metaverses are not games and should not be considered games.

From an industry perspective, this point of view is easy to understand: if the metaverse were defined as video games, South Korea’s gaming laws would apply to them. However, this gaming legislation is very protective of young players and forbids, for example, the integration of financial or speculative mechanisms into the universe of games or even economic models that are too inspired by the game of money and chance.
The South Korean industry (and in particular Namgoong Hoon, boss of Kakao Games) is clearly hoping to get rid of this legislation in future metaverses and therefore explicitly prevents the metaverses from remaining “mature” universes. are not intended primarily for younger users and likely contain financial content (particularly through crypto assets) or even the equivalent of casino games.

We don’t yet know what regulation model South Korean parliamentarians will adopt, but they are already pointing out their commitment to self-regulation industry (very quickly self-regulate more or less effectively to avoid mandatory laws). However, we understand that the metaverse is already being considered by South Korean studios as a medium that can be monetized, and since they can also integrate game content and mechanics, we believe that the lines between real online games and monetized virtual spaces may even blur a bit. more.

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