It’s a big day for Korea, it seems, because on top of their biggest publisher possibly selling out to Nintendo, there’s more news to offer, as they're now joining Europe and North America in investigating the disgusting (and possibly harmful) monetization practices of many modern games.
Ten game companies are specifically in the Fair Trade Commission’s sights (and yes, they call it the same thing Americans do) -- which includes Blizzard, Riot Games, NCSoft, and Nexon -- for engaging in what the see as unlawful practices. This includes not ensuring that minors have parental consent before they make their purchases, are ‘unfair’, or shutting down any criticism of their games from their players. In any case, the officials have urged all ten of the investigated companies to make changes to their practices voluntarily, before the law gets involved.
That said, the Korean FTC didn’t mince words with consumers, either, as they make it perfectly clear that just because they’re investigating these companies, players won’t be getting free refunds willy-nilly.
"Some news reports suggest that it may become easier for people to get refunds for in-game purchases if they can prove that their children used credit cards without permission… but if an underage user actively deceives parents, that’s on the kids. If a minor spends more than the legally allowed amount of 70,000 won ($62) a month, he or she will be held accountable."
So there’s still some customer accountability, specifically for parents of brats who never learned the value of a well-earned won.
Regardless, the real news is that this surge of investigations in the merits of loot boxes and other monetization schemes doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. Time will tell where South Korea falls on the issue, but even if they decide it’s okay, I doubt it will stop the next country from doing some digging.
We’ll have to see.