Korean Companies Fined $950,000 Over Loot Boxes

Three game companies—including online giants Nexon—have been fined almost one million dollars by Korea’s Fair Trade Commission over deceptive loot box practices.

NextFloor ($4,600) and Netmarble ($55,000) were also ordered to pay small fines, but the bulk of that judgement ($875,000) was reserved for Nexon, particularly for its handling of the game Sudden Attack.

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The Korea Herald reports (via DOT esports) that Nexon’s fine comes as a result of its advertising of loot boxes for a Sudden Attack event, in which two of 16 puzzle pieces (which when completed could grant an in-game bonus) were offered in $0.85 purchases.

The Korean FTC argued that consumers believed the odds of obtaining each piece were the same, when in fact some of the pieces would only be present in 0.5% of loot boxes. They highlighted the case of one player who spent $430 trying to get the pieces as an example of the effect that advertising was having on players.

“The FTC’s actions have signaled alarm across the Korean game sector,”, the Korea Herald piece adds, “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.”

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Luke Plunkett

Luke Plunkett is a Senior Editor based in Canberra, Australia. He has written a book on cosplay, designed a game about airplanes, and also runs cosplay.kotaku.com.