South Korea continues to hand out fines for deceptive lootbox practices

    
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Kick it down the road.

Nexon isn’t the only Korean studio that has been targeted by the government and fined for dishonest practices with its online games and lockboxes. The South Korean Fair Trade Commission has handed out $950,000 in fines to the country’s studios for deceiving players and failing to provide accurate odds for winning any particular prize.

The three studios punished for their transgressions are Nexon ($875,000), Netmarble ($55,000), and NextFloor ($4,600). The Korea Herald notes, “The [South Korean] FTC’s actions have signaled alarm across the Korean game sector, as it could hurt the sales of in-game items — particularly randomized items, which users tend to continuously buy until they get a desired result — that contribute immensely to profits.”

Is this enough of a penalty to make the eastern market be more responsible with its lockbox policies, or are these fines merely a slap on the wrist? We will see.

Source: Korea Herald via Kotaku
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Anstalt

Well, the fines aren’t all that big, but it’s still a step in the right direction.

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FG3000

These systems already print money I have no idea why compaines have to add another shady layer on top of it.

A game I quit last year had a ultra rare character up for grabs and NOBODY could get it after what I assume was tens of thousands of dollars across the player base. Someone finally hacked the files to find out the rate was set at 0.00% drop rate !!!

These companies need to be fined out of business

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rafael12104

As I mention below, IMO, the real impact here is that SK government is meddling in the video game business. Other countries seeing this might decide to take a look themselves. Or better yet, might decide that it is ok to get a better look at the broader issues that lootboxes may pose.

And other bonus here is that it is happening in South Korea who is known for their gaming culture and huge video game corps and dev houses. This could have an impact on other regions as the business is global. Such that perhaps in the future loot box odds will be published in all regions as part of a development standard.

camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

Maybe they could send out sealed LOOT affidavits to the companies in question with a note on the outside

“Inside might be a coupon for a smoothie or maybe it’s a fine for 1 million dollars!”

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Zora

Is this enough of a penalty to make the eastern market be more responsible with its lockbox policies, or are these fines merely a slap on the wrist? We will see.

The earlier, really.

Companies can simply offload the economic penalty onto employees/customers without any real loss, because they aren’t exactly selling a real good competing with others on it. They sell a digital nothingness and each company has a monopoly on its own ecosystem.

As long as there’s a market for it, fines are simply a “let me share in the profits” from the state…with the state partaking in it without losing the moral high ground of actually legalizing it.

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kgptzac

Fine them, fine them all I say!

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Simon

Seems more like a slap on the wrist to me. The problem with RNG is that… it’s random. Assume the drop rate for one specific item is 1/100. You get 100 kills. Should you have one of said item? Statistically yes, but realistically, not really.
I played RuneScape, tried getting a drop with 1/512 drop rate. I ended up killing over 3000 before getting the drop. Does that mean the drop rate is manipulated? No. Does it suck? Yes.
In other words, it’s extremely difficult to prove that drop rate manipulation is actually happening.

I would instead propose that there’s a minimum chance of getting the item you want in a lootbox or similar system. It’ll still rake in loads of money.

camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

Nobody likes REAL RNG cause for every person who got the McGuffin on the first try there’s some other poor slob who took ten thousand tries to get it.

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Schmidt.Capela

Which is why, when money isn’t involved, games often tamper with the odds to make bad streaks far more rare or even flat out impossible. For example, some time ago I was looking at the Subnautica code for modding purposes, and the game uses code to prevent bad streaks for every single resource that is randomly obtained.

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David Goodman

Slap on the wrist. It’s like OSHA regulations at some of the places I’ve worked at — the cost of complying with them is more than the cost of the penalties. It’s more telling of the lack of power these agencies have. Those companies make shockingly several times more than that with lootboxes.

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rafael12104

True. But, I have to say, using your OSHA example which is a good one, many companies spend heavily to comply not because of the “drop in the bucket” fines but to keep regulators out of their business period.

If government begins to view this as a source of revenue or use the opportunity in flagging those violations to broaden investigation into other abuses, then companies will comply.

The veiled threat approach does work. Lol

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David Goodman

Could be an alternative to taxing video games – “It’s not a tax, it’s US trying to keep the customer safe from predatory practices!”