Three game companies – including online giants Nexon – have been fined ₩1 billion ($1.2 million) by Korea’s Fair Trade Commission over deceptive loot box practices.
NextFloor (₩5 million [$6067]) and Netmarble (₩60 million [$72,804]) were also ordered to pay small fines, but the bulk of that judgement (₩944.5 million [$1.1 million]) 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 ₩900 ($1) 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 per cent of loot boxes. They highlighted the case of one player who spent ₩460,000 ($558) trying to get the pieces as an example of the effect that advertising was having on players.
“The FTC’s actions have signalled alarm across the Korean game sector,” the Korea Herald piece adds, “as it could hurt the sales of in-game items – particularly randomised items, which users tend to continuously buy until they get a desired result – that contribute immensely to profits.”