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This Week In Korean Online Gaming News: From Cancelled Games To The Shutdown Law

Gamasutra rounds up the week's biggest reports on South Korea's booming online games market from local news site This Is Game, including shutdown law reactions, Chinese operators canceling Korean games, and mor
[Gamasutra rounds up the week's biggest reports on South Korea's booming online games market from This Is Game, the leading English-language site about the country's game industry.] In our latest round-up of news from South Korea's online games space, we look at a reactions to the online gaming shutdown law a month after it went into effect, Chinese operators closing down their Korean games, and more. GameHi, Netmarble Terminate Sudden Attack 2 Publishing Agreement Developer GameHi has cancelled its Korean publishing deal with Netmarble for Sudden Attack 2, the upcoming sequel to its popular free-to-play first-person shooter -- and has reimbursed the company $3 million, including the $2.17 million penalty for breaching their contract. GameHi said the agreement was cancelled because it was unable to meet the scheduling terms originally agreed upon with Netmarble for Sudden Attack 2. Problems between the two also emerged earlier this year after rival publisher Nexon bought a controlling stake in GameHi. "Both of us tried to rearrange the development schedule, but we failed to come to an agreement," said a representative for GameHi. "So we decided to cancel the contract, as we believed we would not make it by the time [Netmarble] wants us to finish it." The representative added, "Despite the cancellation, we will continue developing the game and will [launch Sudden Attack 2] when it is ready." Cabal Online, Ragnarok Online, And Others Shutting Down In China As the year comes to a close, several Chinese operators are shutting down their Korean games for a variety of reasons. Moliyo, for instance, has been ordered by the court to take down Cabal Online by the end of January, and to pay developer ESTsoft $473,000. Moliyo's publishing deal actually ended two years ago, but the company continued to operate the MMORPG -- and was sued for breach of contract. Moliyo is currently developing a game titled Cabal 2, which it claims has no relation to ESTsoft's MMO or upcoming sequel. Shanda Games has decided to cancel Gravity's Ragnarok Online in China by the end of the month due to the surge of private servers for the game, which has reportedly caused a collapse in its concurrent user count (number of users online at the same time) and revenue. The9 is also closing down Electronic Arts and Neowiz Games's soccer title FIFA Online 2 due to its lack of success in China after three years on the market. Reactions To The Shutdown System A Month After Its Implementation In November, South Korea implemented a shutdown system for online games, forcing operators and platform holders to block children aged under 16 from playing online titles during a late-night six-hour block -- part of a law meant to combat online game addiction. A month later, though, some claim the shutdown law has had little effect. "I investigated what has changed after the policy. As a result, nothing much has changed in terms of the concurrent users for both [kids and adults]," says JongDeuk Kim, who works for an unnamed developer. A younger gamer nicknamed Maemi commented, "All of [my friends] said nothing would change because we all could still either play the online games with our parents's IDs or play other games not under the policy, such as console games or mobile games. This system is meaningless." Cultural Society Institute researcher KiMin Yang added, "The children would eventually play games no matter how hard we try to take them away from it, and the games themselves would not die out forever. Suppressing games, however, is the right thing to do for the potential future of our children." [This story was written with permission using material from ThisIsGame Global, the leading English-language site about the South Korean game industry.]

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