Sudden Attack Publisher and Two Others Fined Over Loot Boxes

There has been a lot of talk around the world focusing on whether loot boxes in games are gambling. The South Korean Fair Trade Commission has fined three game publishers in the country for deceptive in-game item sales for three games with the fines totaling around $1 million. The company hit with the brunt of the fines is Nexon, the company behind the free-to-play game Sudden Attack 2.

Nexon was fined $875,000 and the fine came after the company ran an in-game event called Celebrity Count. That event had loot boxes that were selling for 900 won each (about 85 cents) with items of varying value in each box. Each of the loot boxes players purchased came with two puzzle pieces.

When the players assembled all 16 puzzle pieces they received in-game benefits. The catch was that the puzzle pieces were randomized so you could get the same pieces over and over. Some of the pieces were so rare that the chance of them appearing was as scant as 0.5% and players weren’t told the odds.

One gamer allegedly spent 460,000 won or about $430 on the loot boxes trying to get all puzzle pieces. “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,” the statement from Nexon Korea read. “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.” PCGamer isn’t clear what other two developers were fined.