loot box controversy

South Korea Is the Latest Country to Launch an Investigation Into Loot Boxes and Microtransactions

South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission has joined a growing list of authorities in various countries that have launched investigations into loot boxes and microtransactions. Following the infamous Star Wars Battlefront II loot box controversy, multiple organizations have expressed concerns about “predatory” practices among developers. While some countries have concluded that loot boxes don’t constitute gambling, others have banned them altogether.

According to The Korea Herald, FTC has contacted ten companies to submit a response including Blizzard, Nexon, NCSoft, and Riot Games. The antitrust regulator is reviewing both mobile games and computer/console games.

The FTC is specifically concerned about how developers deal with underage users making in-game purchases.

“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,” a representative told The Korea Herald. “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.”

The FTC considers several other practices unfair. For example, some companies limit refunds for in-game purchases that are gifted to others even if the recipient has yet to claim the gift.

Following its investigation, the authority will allow developers to make appropriate changes voluntarily or they may be forced to make changes, if necessary.

The South Korean FTC’s announcement comes two weeks after the United States’ Federal Trade Commission announced that it was holding a public workshop to address complaints surrounding loot boxes. The organization acknowledged concerns about how loot boxes are marketed, their addictive nature, and their potential impact on minors.

The U.S. FTC’s workshop is scheduled for August 2019. The outcome will determine what change(s), if any, the authority will recommend.

[Source: The Korea Herald via Games Industry]