What it means to run a game for 20 years

MapleStory Universe
4 min readMar 13


2023, MapleStory’s 20th Birthday

As we approach MapleStory’s 20th birthday in 2023, it’s worth reflecting on what it means for a game to last two decades in the constantly evolving landscape of the gaming industry. Here’s what it means for a game to be around for 20 years:

  • People who are born the year of the game’s launch(2003) are now approaching adulthood(19–20).
  • Currently, approximately 160,000 of those people are playing MapleStory (based on KMS data).
  • MapleStory was born in the era of the Nintendo Game Boy/GameCube. Since then, it has maintained a constant presence while witnessing the multiple iterations of the consoles, including the Nintendo DS, 3DS, Wii, and Switch as well as the progression of PlayStation models from PS2 to PS5.
  • Over the past 20 years, more than 180 million users around the world have created MapleStory IDs; and if you add up the cumulative EXP of all Korean users, you get a significant number of 804 quintillions.
  • So far, there are about 32,000 items (equipment, cosmetics, pets, and others) available in MapleStory. That’s about 825,857,128,072,778,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 available combinations.

A game that’s been around for 20 years means it has spent the same amount of time as a person from birth to adulthood. Over time, MapleStory hasn’t just lived on, but it has become a solid IP with a variety of spin-offs and derivative products. The original game itself has not given way to its spin-offs, either; it is constantly evolving and changing, still loved by millions of users.

In addition to MapleStory, Nexon has various other long-lived games, such as Dungeon & Fighter and Mabinogi, that were released in the early 2000s and are still in successful service in 2023. The Kingdom of the Winds, released in 1996, has been in operation for nearly 30 years, earning the Guinness World Record for the longest-running online game.

Over its extended history, Nexon has kept up with market needs and technological advancements, addressed various issues that have arisen, and advanced its live service capabilities. Regular content updates to keep up with the ever-growing user base are part of this. Furthermore, Nexon has made various efforts to expand its intellectual property on a variety of platforms. It has held showcase events and launched collaborative products and events to engage users both online and offline. The accumulation of these efforts has made Nexon and its games what they are today.

Nexon’s Answer to the Challenges of Long-Term Gaming

Long-term live services are inevitably challenged by various issues over accumulated years. Workshops and bots have emerged to abusively profit from in-game goods that can be traded between users. Although continuous updates provided users with various content to enjoy, the release of new in-game items has also caused inflation. To prevent users from suffering from excessive inflation of in-game goods, Nexon has made various efforts such as establishing a bot detection system and monitoring the flow of in-game goods in real-time through advanced data analysis.

At the same time, Nexon has felt the need to think more fundamentally about the direction of its main business model as the market evolves. While the current live service constantly seeks to address issues arising from the changing market through close communication with users and in-depth internal discussions, Nexon still wanted to find another way to engage with users in a healthier and longer-lasting manner.

MapleStory Universe — the NFT centered blockchaing gaming ecosystem

MapleStory Universe is the answer Nexon has come up with utilizing blockchain technology. This is not merely a sudden decision based on a trend, but rather a carefully considered endeavor and challenge by Nexon to overcome the limitations it has faced.

Nexon has been conducting research on the blockchain-based gaming ecosystem even before blockchain came to the forefront, exploring various options for blockchain game services and the use of NFTs in games. We have been steadily paying attention to the blockchain ecosystem by continuing to put energy into blockchain-related R&D through its specialized research organization, Intelligence Lab.

With MapleStory, Nexon’s blockchain technology will be applied to the game with a vast amount of content and live service know-how accumulated over 20 years, creating an NFT-centered ecosystem that will develop the IP together with participants. By combining the advantages of blockchain with Nexon’s long-term live service capabilities, the company aims to provide a service that allows users and game companies to continue to grow together in a healthy way by leveraging the irreplaceable IP of MapleStory.

In the end, all services within Nexon have the same goal: to be with our users for as long as possible without compromising their memories and efforts. Nexon recognizes the value of time, and we hope to share with readers how blockchain can be one of the answers to achieving this goal in future articles published on the MapleStory Universe Medium.



MapleStory Universe

The NFT-centered blockchain gaming ecosystem based on MapleStory IP. Developed by Nexon | Follow us on Twitter — https://twitter.com/MaplestoryU

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