It turns out Korean Fair Trade Commission is seriously intent on staying true to the "Fair" part of their name after fining three gaming companies over unethical loot box practices. As it stands, the fines amount to almost $1 million.
We're talking about three gaming companies here, one of which is Korean behemoth Nexon. Indeed, it seems Nexon bore the brunt of the fine, with the company having to pay $875 thousand of the total fine.
Remainder of the cash will come from NextFloor and Netmarble, who will have to shell out $4.6 and $55 thousand, respectively. All of this is a result of how all the aforementioned companies handled loot boxes inside their games.
The FTC says that consumers believe the odds of items dropping from loot boxes are the same across the board. In truth however, some had odds lower than 1 item every 2,000 loot boxes.
As a scientific experiment, a player had to spent $430 in Nexon's game Sudden Attack in order to earn two puzzle pieces, which are available in the in-game store through $0.85 packages. Indeed, this increasingly seems more like a carefully tailored heist than a game.
This has said to have sent alarming signals across Korean gaming industry, although the issue seems to be present across the globe at the moment. The fines are, however, setting a precedent, by which many future cases may be tried.
In fact, similar concerns have been quelled only recently, after ESRB decided that it won't be doing much more than labelling games with loot boxes. Even though unfair odds perhaps warrant a closer look, if nothing else, such intimate regulation is never a good idea for anything even remotely tied to art.
The Board has found no evidence of loot boxes promoting addictive behaviours in children but did acknowledge there's need to regulate this part of the market in some way. To be fair, those were indeed some big accusations that in turn required big backing up of those same claims. That part never came, of course.