South Korea’s antitrust regulator has slapped a hefty fine of 11.6 billion won ($8.85 million) on Nexon Korea, a leading gaming company. The penalty follows accusations of deceptive business practices related to in-game items that targeted unsuspecting players.
According to reports by The Korea Times, Nexon Korea, the publisher behind popular titles like MapleStory and Bubble Fighter, faced allegations of tampering with the odds of randomised in-game items. These alterations, implemented without user awareness, allegedly favored the company and spanned an extensive period from 2010 to 2021, potentially violating consumer protection regulations.
The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) revealed that in August 2011, Nexon went as far as issuing a false statement, denying any modifications to the games’ program despite substantial evidence suggesting otherwise.
“Nexon made announcements about changes to the games hundreds of times from 2010-21, but it omitted the information about the probability adjustment,” stated the regulator. “Our judgment is that the company had aimed to lure customers by giving them a false sense of fairness.”
The accusations revolve around the manipulation of in-game item probabilities, a practice that impacts players who spend real money on virtual items. Such alterations, when undisclosed, raise ethical concerns and potentially violate consumer rights.
The gaming industry has faced increased scrutiny in recent years, with regulators globally taking steps to ensure fair practices and protect consumers. South Korea, being a hub for the gaming industry, has been proactive in addressing issues of deceptive practices and ensuring a level playing field for gamers.
Nexon Korea’s substantial fine serves as a deterrent and a clear message from the South Korean authorities that deceptive practices within the gaming industry will not be tolerated. The company has not yet issued a public response to the fine.
This incident highlights the importance of transparency in the gaming industry and the need for companies to be accountable for their practices, especially when real money is involved. The impact of this decision on Nexon Korea and its reputation in the gaming community remains to be seen as players and industry stakeholders await further developments.
Soucre: Pocket Gamer