Update: A Microsoft spokesperson has responded to PC Gamer's request for comment, saying “We are proceeding with the global migration of Mojang accounts to Microsoft accounts for Minecraft: Java Edition including for our players in South Korea. We’re working on a longer term solution for existing and new players under the age of 19 in South Korea and will have more to share on this later this year.”
Original story: Minecraft, the incredibly kid-friendly sandbox game, has essentially been slapped with an adults-only age rating in South Korea.
The bizarre restriction comes down to the country's "Cinderella law," which pulls the plug on any child or teen hoping to play games with their mates into the early hours of the morning. The law's been in place since 2011 and means anyone under the age of 16 is prohibited from playing online videogames between midnight and 6 AM (thanks, GamesIndustry.biz (opens in new tab)).
Instead of bothering to implement any form of after-hours screening to Xbox Live or separate servers, Microsoft instead changed their policy for South Korea in 2012, so anybody wanting to make an account has to be at least 19 years old. This hasn't impacted Minecraft so far, as the game's still been allowing players to sign in with their Mojang account which doesn't require age verification.
That's changed now, with the official Minecraft website warning players back in December 2020 that they'd need to start signing in with an Xbox Live account to access the game. The migration started off as a voluntary thing, but then in March, an additional warning popped up specifically for South Korea informing that anyone looking to buy the game would need to be at least 19 years old. So while Minecraft currently sits at a 12+ age rating through the country's Games Rating and Administration Committee, the mandatory Xbox Live sign-in bumps that straight up to an 18+ rating.(opens in new tab)
Understandably, many Korean players are pretty pissed-off about the whole thing. A petition on the government's official website (opens in new tab) has accrued over 88,000 signatures, asking for South Korea to get rid of the Cinderella law and its inadvertent restriction of Minecraft.
"The [law] finally stretched out to Minecraft, which is regarded as the epitome of educational and creative games," a machine translation of the petition reads. "Korea will become [the only game market] where even Minecraft is reduced to an adult game."
The petition goes on to claim that the curfew law is unnecessary and disregards the benefits games can have on youngsters. Also, y'know, how easy the law can apparently be to circumvent. Microsoft is yet to respond with a comment about the situation.
In more positive Minecraft news, a super-rare version of the game (opens in new tab) that was up for less than four hours was recently discovered on a Twitter user's dusty old hard drive.