The South Korean Game Rating Board (GRB) has accused several MMO publishers of obstructing an investigation related to in-game "jackpot items," according to a report in This Is Game. The GRB wants to know from game makers if the in-game purchase of jackpot items should be considered gambling. The Jackpot item system lets players pay a set amount of in-game currency in return for a random item of potentially greater value. The GRB has asked 10 MMO publishers to provide details on in-game systems that offer such features. They include Neowiz, Smile Gate, CJ, WeMade, NCsoft, Actoz Soft, Mgame, NHN, Nexon, and HanbitSoft.
Publishers have cooperated in part to the GRB's requests, giving up the item names, costs and virtual currencies involved in the transactions, but they are refusing to provide information on payout percentages.
The publishers say that the information is of a confidential nature because it relates to their business models, and does not fall under the jurisdiction of the ratings board.
The Korean industry self-regulates on gambling by following a set of rules established in 2008, but the GRB openly questions if MMO publishers are still following those rules.
"Game companies ask us why GRB tries to touch their business model and refuse to our request. But the jackpot item is a content of the game," said GRB chairman Soo Keun Lee.
"We don't care whatever they do outside of the game but what is matter to us is that it is a part of the game. There should have been no problem if they have followed the criteria they have made by themselves. But we doubt if they are abiding by it now. To us, it is nothing more than a dead recommendation."
We'll continue to follow this story as it develops.