Korean companies fined $950K for deceptive loot box practices
The Korean Fair Trade Commission (FTC) has fined three video game companies, including heavy-hitters Nexon and Netmarble, for employing deceptive loot box practices.
As reported by The Korea Herald, Nexon Korea -- the publisher behind Lawbreakers, MapleStory, and the Korean version of Counter Strike -- was hit with a $882,700 penalty and a $5,200 fine, the biggest among the three.
Star Wars: Force Arena and Marvel: Future Fight publisher Netmarble was handed a $42,300 penalty and $14,100 fine, while Destiny Child creator NextFloor received a fine $4,700.
All three have been asked to review and reform their monetization practices, with the Korean FTC specifically taking issue with way randomized loot crates are being promoted.
Indeed, the commission believes the offending outfits have been employing ads that display incorrect or misleading odds for loot crate drops.
For instance, it claims Nexon's promotion campaign implied all loot crate drops had an even chance of dropping, when in reality the odds of receiving certain items were as low as 0.5 percent. Nexon has since spoken out against the decision, claiming the FTC misinterpreted the wording of its ad campaign.
"In our puzzle event, we used the phrase 'random provision' to suggest the items would be provided at random, and that the odds of obtaining each puzzle piece were different," said the company. "However, the FTC interpreted the phrase as suggesting equal odds. We plan to work on obtaining an additional review of this issue in the future."
The Korean FTC isn't the first organization to take issue with the use of loot boxes. Politicians and officials from around the world have been reviewing the "predatory" monetization method, with some calling for the controversial mechanic to be banned outright.