Korea Bans Commercial Game Item Trades

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Korea Bans Commercial Game Item Trades

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South Korean authorities are looking to stamp out the burgeoning game items-for-cash market.

According to The Korea Times, the Ministry of Culture Sports and Tourism is planning to introduce legislation which will render all commercial virtual item trades illegal. Under the new law, which will be announced next month, gamers caught trading items for cash (or vice versa) could face a maximum 50 million won fine (approximately US$42,848) and a not-unreasonable-at-all five year jail term.

"The main purpose of the games is for entertainment and should be used for academic and other good purposes," said Kim Kap-soo, head of the ministry's content policy division.

The law also prohibits MMO players from using programs that play games and collect items automatically. According to the ministry, items acquired by bots make up over 60 percent of all items traded in the country, and the monetization of item trades is partially responsible for the nation's rising crime rate amongst teenagers. If the finalized law doesn't feature any exemptions, it will likely cripple the country's MMO industry. An overwhelming majority of Korean MMOs are free-to-play titles which depend on virtual item sales to turn a profit.

Korean arcades will also be affected by the new law, as it closes the legal loopholes they've been using to bypass anti-gambling legislation. Currently, games like Sea Story don't technically count as gambling, as the machines don't pay out in cash. They do however, pay out virtual tokens which can then be redeemed for cash. The number of Arcades offering games like Sea Story has risen to 1,500 as of April this year compared to a mere 50 in 2009.

Source: The Korea Times

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Well this explains the hostility to D3s real money auction house. Previously I had thought that the anti auction house moves was protectionism for Korea own online games but its obviously become an issue in Korea.

will they stamp out DLC next?

I've personally never been very fond of the idea of buying digital items for actual currency. I welcome this change.

South Korea have recently removed evolution from their text books
Which endangers their position as the worlds so called leader of education.

Now they want to cripple their own MMO market... has there been an election that I missed where a bunch of retards got elected?

Hey David... David... Cameron you prick. At that got your attention.
Fancey capitalizing on this move by South Korea and try to steal away some of their MMO market and turn the UK into a market leader for games... oh no you fucking moron what are you doing...

Evil Smurf:
will they stamp out DLC next?

DLC should be fine. It looks like the law is only going after microtransactions for items already in the game.

I actually think this is a good idea. If the U.S. had laws like this, my mother wouldn't be spending God knows how many hours each night playing YoVille and Farmville. There are more important things she could be doing at 2:40 in the morning. Like posting on message boards.

Joking aside, this is going to suck for free-to-play developers. But hopefully this will encourage them to make games that are actually worth buying at retail. I never cared for Zynga anyway.

Comando96:
South Korea have recently removed evolution from their text books
Which endangers their position as the worlds so called leader of education.

Now they want to cripple their own MMO market... has there been an election that I missed where a bunch of retards got elected?

I can't argue with that. Idiots will be idiots.

hmm...

5 year jail time? 42k$ fine? For buying/selling a virtual item?
Sounds legit.

This could mean trouble for the F2P titles where buying items & advantages with real money is the very cornerstone of their existance.

RaNDM G:
But hopefully this will encourage them to make games that are actually worth buying at retail. I never cared for Zynga anyway.

http://store.steampowered.com/genre/Free%20to%20Play/

Just have a quick look at the free to play games that steam has within it's system.

They have some good games there... Zynga is probably a legitimate target as it relies on the Skinner Box but a lot of these other free to play games are of a good quality.

To take down Zynga your doing a lot more and a lot wider damage... effectively you would be nuking Zynga and all these other games get caught in the blast and in the radiation...

RaNDM G:

Comando96:
South Korea have recently removed evolution from their text books
Which endangers their position as the worlds so called leader of education.

Now they want to cripple their own MMO market... has there been an election that I missed where a bunch of retards got elected?

I can't argue with that. Idiots will be idiots.

Yeah but you could argue that idiots shouldn't be allowed to vote or run for the position of RUNNING A COUNTRY xD

Comando96:
To take down Zynga your doing a lot more and a lot wider damage... effectively you would be nuking Zynga and all these other games get caught in the blast and in the radiation...

War...

War never changes...

RaNDM G:

Comando96:
To take down Zynga your doing a lot more and a lot wider damage... effectively you would be nuking Zynga and all these other games get caught in the blast and in the radiation...

War...

War never changes...

http://store.steampowered.com/app/113420/

War, war never changes... but this time war is free to play :P

When I first read:

Grey Carter:
Under the new law, which will be announced next month, gamers caught trading items for cash (or vice versa)

I didn't notice the "versa" on the trailing line, and assumed this was about "I'll pay you with sex if you like" kinda problem.

Well, I guess this is understandable in a country where video game addiction causes as much harm as it does. When there's actually people dying when in internet cafés and children starving while their parents are playing online games there needs to be some changes. While I don't know if this is quite what I would have in mind it's a logic step since I can imagine some might have problems getting food because they spent it all on a new helmet for their character. They still got a long way to go though. As long as there is prestige to be gained by playing StarCraft their country will suffer from too much video games.

Should have waited till the RMAH was released by blizz before pushing this law out. Why? for the lulz of being able to raid the blizz offices twice in the same year!

Plus a hefty bag of cash from Blizzard and getting to lock up a bunch of those dicks!

So... no more super Korean players in many F2P mmos?

Heh asked my Korean roomie about this one. She just shrugged and said the politician were making a much bigger deal out of it to score cheap points with the older demographics. I can see that.

South Korea has been on a hateon for games lately honestly. The government seems to feel that people are spendin an unhealthy amount of time playin video games and are tryin to cut it off with stuff like this. I'm not sure what they exactly hope to accomplish with everythin other than alienatin anyone who actually enjoys the hobby, but meh.

Wouldn't this also kill the real money AH in Diablo III? The timing seems oddly convergent, especially after those raids on their offices. The Korean government seems to have a very big problem with Blizzard...

I can't laughing at this xD
The Korean government is single handedly killing the gold farming market AND half of the auction house of D3.
It will be interesting how this law applies and if some game companies will fight back.

For example:
Hats in TF2
Skins in LoL
RMAH in D3
DLC bought over xblive
Everything in every Zynga game ever

Why? All it will do is create a black market for virtual items.

What's next? A black market for porcelain vases?

Part of me is gleeful that at least some countries have a problem with the item-money trading, and I agree completely with the quote in the article, but at the same time, if the people earlier in the thread are correct in that the law does indeed affect the F2P games among other things, ultimately, I couldn't support such a law.

I'm torn over this. On one hand I despise F2P games as they are typically anything but free to play. I also think this race to monetize every single part of gaming is pretty horrible as well. Sadly though, even as much as I really hate the direction gaming is going I don't think government intervention is the answer. I agree with Reagan when he said "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are I'm from the government and I'm here to help".

Grey Carter:
If the finalized law doesn't feature any exemptions, it will likely cripple the country's MMO industry. An overwhelming majority of Korean MMOs are free-to-play titles which depend on virtual item sales to turn a profit.

Not to insinuate you aren't grasping apparent point of the article your reporting on, but it sounds like they want to prevent players from buying/selling to other players for cash, not totally outlaw the ability for the game itself to sell products or for players to exchange in-game products for other in-game products.

Though, this will totally snuff out the Diablo 3 real cash auction house in one of the countries who'd likely exploit the most profit from it.. and anything that hurts Activision's bottom line brings me joy.

Ashannon Blackthorn:
Heh asked my Korean roomie about this one. She just shrugged and said the politician were making a much bigger deal out of it to score cheap points with the older demographics. I can see that.

This is a country where NCSoft had to spend a *substantial* extra amount of cash to build an actual fortress, because their programmers are constantly under threat of death from players.

So...what does this mean for Korean-based MMO's that have been outsourced here to the States? I play one in particular and would like to know if this affects players across the country at all.

Am I going to be in trouble for buying virtual items with actual money because of this new law over there?

It'll be interesting to see how a company like NCSoft does if this goes live. Their mainly Korean with a North American counterpart. Aion just went F2P with items shop, so that'll quickly get effected.

And then there's Guild Wars 2, a HUGE deal for them, that is buy-box and then cash shop for secondary use. The cash shop would have to strip out all "items" to adhere to the law, but it doesn't remove everything from that cash shop. There are things that are account upgrades like character slots, bank slots, XP boosts, and so on that could still be sold under that new law based on them being just upgrades and not item that can be purchased and either traded or resold.

Z of the Na'vi:
So...what does this mean for Korean-based MMO's that have been outsourced here to the States? I play one in particular and would like to know if this affects players across the country at all.

Am I going to be in trouble for buying virtual items with actual money because of this new law over there?

Do you live in Korea? If not, then no. This is a law against Koreans from buying/selling virtual items; the law doesn't effect Americans or any other country (China duly noted).

That's not to say that some game's won't change their item shops around to selling only account boosts and upgrades, rather than intangible items. And, it might actually kill a few games to where they shutdown because of this.

I thought gold farmer was their national industry? But if it takes down Diablo 3 stupid Auction House.

BTW Grey

Grey Carter:
Korean arcades will also be affected by the new law, as it closes the legal loopholes they've been using to bypass anti-gambling legislation. Currently, games like Sea Story don't technically count as gambling, as the machines don't pay out in cash. They do however, pay out virtual tokens which can then be redeemed for cash. The number of Arcades offering games like Sea World has risen to 1,500 as of April this year compared to a mere 50 in 2009.

Wouldn't this also make Steam and iTunes and every download service illegal? You are paying real money for digial items, just bits on a disk, and sometimes only for access to bits on someone else's disk.

I don't see how this could possibly work.

I'm OK with this. Free-to-play was, is, and always will be a TERRIBLE business model unless it's a sample for a full paid version. I have absolutely no objection to a law that makes it harder to prey on children, financially or otherwise.

Pay your programmers, pay your developers, pay your distributors, and charge your customers a realistic price. That's how the world works, and any other way is a scam.

This makes complete sense. Widespread RMAH use across server regions will inevitably lead to undeclared income and circumvent tax laws. This is absolutely the right call.

While part of me is happy to see the MMORPG genre take what will almost certainly be a huge and vicious hit (still some lingering spite towards it, long story)... I have to say this is actually a bit worrying. Not so much for what would happen to the MMORPG genre (somewhat want to see it crash & burn, though I didn't expect to see something which could legitimately cause that), but because it seems to be the government is overstepping its bounds a bit; the results could easily be overkill and have a lot unintended consequences.

Be careful what you wish for?

It might be due to the lack of information right now, but this could be (entirely?) a good thing if the details were laid out in a way to keep the effects of the proposed law in check. It'd involve quite a bit of careful work with the fine print, but it can be done. Nevertheless, it's still touchy territory for a government to be taking such a direct role in the matter; at least they're going after a genuine issue with games rather than a frivolous one (censorship and the what-not).

---

As for it not directly affecting nations other than South Korea?
Think about the long-term effects of this type of bill passing for a minute.

While other nations might not have that type of proposal on the table right now, how long will it be before those proposals are actually on the table? This is part of the reason I said it was worrying, other nations could easily start doing the same if it passes. It might not be a problem now, but it may be a problem later. This could be after the seeing what the effects of the law (if it passes) in South Korea, and that may be what determines whether or not others will consider doing the same.

Again, it could be a good thing... but with the already less-than-favourable reputation gaming has right now, there's no guarantee that the politicians are going to handle it properly. The South Korean government seems to know where some of the actual problems are, but it's not quite the case on this side of the Pacific; it's here where you're more likely to see the bill proposal which will cause more collateral damage due to a less carefully laid out proposal. Yes, there will no doubt be gaming lobbyists which would try to go against it; but there still will other lobbyists which will push for it to pass as well.

Just don't think it won't affect you because it's in another country; and that's simply because awareness of this can give another politician, one closer to home, ideas.

I would have thought the main purpose of games is whatever you make it.

I never liked micro transactions personally, but if other people do then why not let them but useless crap.

well, looks like korea is about to become empty within the next couple years besides old farts XD

YES, PLEASE LISTEN TO SOUTH KOREA AND IMPLEMENT PROGRESSIVE LAWS LIKE THIS EVERYONE ELSE!

Sorry for caps, but this is fucking awesome.

What right does the government have to say what you can/cannot sell (as long as it doesn't harm/infringe another persons rights)? Maybe they should ban DLC too because of some BS reason and then why not ban any selling of video games while your at it.

redmarine:
I've personally never been very fond of the idea of buying digital items for actual currency. I welcome this change.

So...you're not very fond of buying video games?

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