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Korean Gov't Seeking Guidelines For 'Jackpot Items' In Online Games

The South Korean government's Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism (MCST) has asked the local game industry to set probability guidelines for 'Jackpot items' in online games due to gambling concerns.
Jackpot items, or in-game purchases for random virtual goods, have been a controversial matter in recent months as government organizations have speculated that they could constitute a form of gambling, and thus would require regulation. The country's Game Rating Board recently asked ten of the largest MMO publishers, including firms like Nexon and NCsoft, to provide information from their databases about Jackpot items and how users are purchasing/receiving them. While the companies provided some of that data, they did not provide information like the Jackpot items' payout percentages, arguing that because the items are part of their business models, they don't need to be rated under the GRB. The MCST, though, now says that there should be guidelines for the probability that players will receive valuable in-game items from Jackpot item purchases, according to a report from Korean industry news site This Is Game. "Guidelines for the probability [are] needed," says MCST's Game Content Industry director KiJung Lee. "Jackpot items are becoming popular in the industry, and its range of probability is sometimes up to 100x, which encourages gambling." The government group has asked South Korea's online game industry to suggest possible probability guidelines this month -- and if it is unsatisfied with the proposal, the MCST could decide on a standard that it prefers. If guidelines are set for payout probabilities, the GRB could potentially require publishers to submit the data it needs for the Jackpot items, as it would compare how their games are randomly distributing valuable items against the agreed standard. Lee adds, "So far, we have let the industry manage the issue autonomously. While some have followed the self-imposed rules, some have not. Therefore, we need to define a certain official guideline based on feedback from the companies."

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