The South Korean government is clamping down on gaming companies as three big names are issued major fines over suspicious loot box practices.
Love them or loathe them, loot boxes are still a major part of a lot of games and can be a helpful tool as a leg up for those willing to part with their real cash. However, while some have been against the idea of microtransactions and loot boxes since their big boom, at least some countries in the world are finally listening to video game fans.
According to The Korea Herald, Nexon, Netmarble, and NextFloor are among those facing fines from the Korean Fair Trade Commission (FTC). Nexon is known for the likes of Counter Strike Online 2 and is the biggest developer feeling the wrath with a $882,700 penalty and $5,200 fine. Netmarble landed a $42,300 penalty and $14,100 fine thanks to Star Wars: Force Arena and Marvel: Future Fight, while NextFloor received a $4,700 fine thanks to Destiny Child.
Nexon was particularly scolded for misleading players in Sudden Attack and Counter Strike Online 2, finding that odds were stacked against those who use loot boxes. Sudden Attack was found guilty due to a recent event where buying loot boxes for around $0.85 could lead to in-game benefits. However, the odds of gathering all 16 of the required pieces were as low as 0.5%. One customer reportedly spent up to $430 without Nexon revealing the real odds of success. In a statement, Nexon said it would readdress its use of loot boxes but implied that it will carry on using them in their games:
"In our puzzle event, we used the phrase ‘random provision’ to suggest the items would be provided at random, and that the odds of obtaining each puzzle piece were different. However, the FTC interpreted the phrase as suggesting equal odds. We plan to work on obtaining an additional review of this issue in the future."
Star Wars: Battlefront II has arguably had the biggest problems with loot boxes since Electronic Arts removed them just moments before the game launched in November. Battlefront II was accused of giving loot box users an unfair advantage in the game and the argument has been raging since. Battlefront II grabbed headlines for all the wrong reasons and actually earned EA the most downvoted comment in the entire history of Reddit thanks to its loot box response.
Described as a "predatory" way to lure players into spending money through the use of misleading advertising, there is no denying that loot boxes are making gaming companies a small fortune. However, while the cases in South Korea show that the tide is turning against loot boxes, recent trends suggest that their unscrupulous use will still be hanging around in games for the foreseeable future.
Source: The Korea Herald