Recently, famous games such as Maple Story, Mabinogi, Everybody's Marvel, and Lineage M have had issues with operational problems such as deceiving users by not properly disclosing the probability of 'random box'. Game users claim that this has occured because the game law created in 2006 didn't properly reflect the rapidly changing gaming environment. Therefore, they have requested a revision to the law. Some members of the National Assembly also proposed the 'GAME INDUSTRY PROMOTION ACT' law revision, in light of the fact that the current laws are effective (2020-12-15). Let's look at what incidents have happened in MapleStory, a Nexon game, so that even gamers who were usually quiet are making their voices and how the game industry, gamers, and government view this incident.
Controversial situation about random boxes in the game industry
To explain the MapleStory events regarding probability manipulation in one line, they are marked as 'random', but, in reality, they are not. Before this incident occurred, the Korean Fate/Grand Order, which was published by Netmarble, stopped New Year's Start Dash campaign in 2021, so users' distrust toward the game company has increased. Furthermore, Mabinogi which is distributed by Nexon, shows an idle response even though their game users urged them to disclose the 'tooling probability' in public and improve the service, leading game users' popular sentiment begin to burn more and more. As a result, Mabinogi users even submitted petitions to the National Assembly calling for the legal regulation of random box, and as a result it has spread to the news and politics widely.
Regarding this situation, on February 18, 2021, MapleStory revealed in an update patch note that the probability of an 'additional option' which is used to upgrade item's performance, was changed equally. In MapleStory, a random box consists of many things such as 'Cube', 'Wonderberry', 'Royal Style', 'Ability', and 'Rebirth Flame', and the expression 'random' was used a lot instead of indicating probability. MapleStory users thought that 'random' means the same probability while playing the game, but through the experience of using 'Rebirth Flame' to change the additional option and the patch note that says the probability will be applied the same from now on, they found out that the probability of each additional option was not the same. As a result, users lost their trust in the game and requested to disclose the probability of the Rebirth Flame and other probabilistic items.
As the media criticized these incidents, Nexon announced three improvement proposals that would be applied not only to MapleStory but also to other games that they updated on March 5. The contents of the improvement proposal were as follows.
1. Fully disclose the probability of capsule type(gacha) items, paid enhancement, and synthetic items.
2. The 'real-time probability monitoring system', which allows users to verify the probability, should be developed and introduced within the year.
3. Refrain from using terms that confuse users such as 'random'.
Nexon promised to transparently disclose to users the probabilities that have been hidden by the company through the improvement plans. After that, MapleStory also began to disclose the probability of each random box, and among them, users were astonished at the disclosure of the cube probability. In the case of MapleStory's cube system, it is used to reset the item's potential. Item's potential option is randomly changed when the cube is used, so it is a system in which the users rotate until they get the three potential options they want. This system was originally based on the principle that each option was regenerated as an independent trial, and three identical options could come out. However, it turned out that in the probability table released after ten years, there can be two specific options but not up to three. For example, suppose two options are open. In that case, the 'Item Drop Rate' increases the probability of monsters dropping items when hunting, and 'Damage to Boss Monsters' increases the damage when attacking a boss. The last option always comes with a different option. Since these two options are the top-class options in the game, some people say this means there is no "777" in the slot machine where 777 is the best possible outcome. Many people believe that the game industry deceived customers by making the probability zero in particular situations without any notification.
What is the game law?
Probability controversy erupted not only in Maple Story but also in the game industry, especially in 3N (Nexon, NCsoft, Netmarble), which represents the Korean game industry. As these incidents happened, several members of the National Assembly such as Ha Tae-gyeong and Lee Sang-heon proposed an amendment to the game law to protect game users in the 21st National Assembly.
The game law was titled the 'GAME INDUSTRY PROMOTION ACT' and was enacted on April 28, 2006. However, for the past 15 years, the game law did not act as its purpose while the game market developed very fast. Accordingly, in 2019, the MCST (Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism) released a draft including the concept of probability-type items. Based on this, on February 15, 2020, members of the National Assembly, including Lee Sang-heon proposed an amendment. However, it did not show much effect because of the backlash from the 'Korea Association of Game Industry'.
Position on the amendment of game laws
Then, what are the opinions on the amendment to the game laws, including probability disclosure? According to the game industry, "The laws include too many regulations rather than industry promotion, so we are concerned that there will be a negative impact on the development of the Korean game industry." In other words, it is an opinion that the Korean game industry would stagnate compared to the foreign game industry because the amendment of game laws only regulates the Korean game industry. In the case of the random box, the method of operating the random box for each game varies widely. It has a structure of "variable probability", so that the probability fluctuates from time to time according to the user's game progress. Moreover, the developers of the corresponding game don't know the exact rate of the probability either, and it is often impossible for the game business operator to calculate the accurate supply probability of a specific random box. Also, they claimed that random box is a business secret of the game company's BM.
On the other hand, gamers are voicing the opinion that the "secret of BM" is not rational because the random box has already been used in various games for a long time. There are opinions that if you use your own money and time to buy a random box, it fits the consumer's right to know. Furthermore, the random box controversy would have the risk of becoming the second 'Sea Story' incident (a situation related to the arcade game 'Sea Story', which the government sanctioned at the time due to severe addiction and gambling in 2004. This led to a downturn of the Korean game industry for a while), so the users express an opinion that strong regulation is needed.
Lim Jae-ju who is National Assembly MCST Chief Expert Committee, also said "The amendment of game laws is the contents of introduction to preventing gambling, the obligation to display random box to protect users, and domestic representative designation system for overseas game companies, so this is expected to contribute to strengthening the game industry and establishing a healthy game culture in the mid-to-long-term." This opinion shows the favor of the amendment of the game law.
The business model of games has changed with the development of games, so we think the 2006 game law should also be removed. Luckily, game users are not only just watching this situation, but also continued to show their interest, by publishing statements, raising funds to proceed truck demonstrations, and participating in petitions eagerly. Thanks to those users, some games, including Maple Story, had customer meetings and had time to listen to what users wanted. But, of course, having a meeting is not the end of these incidents. We should keep watching whether the game industry continues to make games for users without fooling them. The amendment of game laws hasn't been passed yet, so it remains to be seen how the law will change so that these incidents will never happen again.< Copyright © The Gachon Herald All rights reserved >