South Korea's Fair Trade Commission is conducting a review of consumer regulations governing videogames, including those relating to in-game purchases made by underage users. A report by the Korea Herald says the commission has involved ten game companies in the review, including Blizzard, Riot, and NCSoft.
An FTC representative said that some in-game purchase policies, including restrictions on refunds, failure to explicitly require parental permission to make purchases, and the use of "misappropriate conduct" clauses to shut down players who complain, are "unfair." The rep also stated (ominously, I would think, although it's impossible to pick up on tone from a printed report) that game companies could make changes to their policies voluntarily, or they could be forced to do so.
Interestingly, however, the rep also appeared to warn that any coming changes will not be a get-out-of-jail-free card for people who don't feel like paying their bills.
"Some news reports suggest that it may become easier for people to get refunds for in-game purchases if they can prove that their children used credit cards without permission," the rep said. "But if an underage user actively deceives parents, that’s on the kids. If a minor spends more than the legally allowed amount of 70,000 won ($62) a month, he or she will be held accountable."
The report says that South Korea's FTC "regularly reviews consumer clauses for various industries," but this review seems particularly timely in light of more widespread concerns about loot boxes in videogames. The US Federal Trade Commission announced details for an upcoming public workshop on loot boxes earlier this month, and more recently Psyonix disabled Rocket League crates in Belgium and the Netherlands to comply with the more restrictive regulations on loot boxes in those countries.
PC Gamer Newsletter
Sign up to get the best content of the week, and great gaming deals, as picked by the editors.
Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.