Korean Companies Fined $950,000 Over Loot Boxes

Illustration for article titled 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.

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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.

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.

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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.”

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.

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DISCUSSION

Random thought, but I wonder what will be the “catch” some company is sure to eventually implement to avoid this anti-loot-box legislation. Hell it’s becoming the new dirty term in the industry/community which means someones going to be looking for the next ‘thing’ or a way to re-brand. I’m reminded of pinball machines and how they were more gambling machines first, with the flippers added later to claim they were games of skill (or at least some skill is involved). I could imagine a loot-box having a mini-game tied to it that maybe helped min-max your outcome odds.

Imagine a world where you have to play some sort of mario party like game or even something as simple as the car smashing game in street fighter with higher scores lowering the chance of low tier drops or increasing the odds of a “Legendary” or whatever. Easy enough to implement, gives players a sense that they can impact the results (when the “improved odds” could be a pretty minor bump), alienates the “Gambling” eleme-

you know what.... nevermind, ignore me, I’m just some dumb internet guy with a dumb idea... everyone carry on.

(EA if you’re listening, don’t be)