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Korean FTC Fines Nexon US$8.8 Million for Allegedly Manipulating Draw Odds in MapleStory Game

posted on by Crystalyn Hodgkins
Korean FTC alleges Nexon lowered odds for 10 years for "Cube" items without telling gamers

The Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) on Wednesday imposed an 11.64 billion won (about US$8.83 million) fine on Nexon Korea for violating the country's Electronic Commerce Act in regards to in-game items sold in the company's MapleStory and Bubble Fighter games. The fine is the largest the KFTC has imposed for a violation of the Electronic Commerce Act.

According to Business Korea, Nexon Korea allegedly manipulated the draw odds for an in-based item called "Cube" in MapleStory to near zero percent without informing consumers. The "Cube" items introduced in May 2010 enhance equipment worn by characters in the game, with the exact item only determined once the Cube is used. Nexon allegedly initially set the chances of all options to be equal, but then altered the odds so that popular items were less likely or nearly impossible to appear from August 2011 to March 2021. The KFTC allege that Nexon did not disclose this change, and instead falsely stated in August 2011 that it had made no changes to the item odds.

The KFTC stated that across those 10 years, Nexon announced minor game changes 449 times but did not disclose changes in probability that put consumers more at a disadvantage.

Nexon apologized to gamers for "disappointing them," but added in a statement: "This issue pertains to the period before 2016 when there was no obligation to disclose information about probability-based items. The KFTC's retrospective sanctions will greatly shrink Korea's gaming industry." The company plans to file an objection.

The late Jungju Kim founded Nexon in 1994. Nexon specializes in free-to-play mobile and online games, such as MapleStory, SINoALICE, and the original Kemono Friends game. The company has also developed such games as The Kingdom of the Winds, KartRider, Dungeon&Fighter, and Mabinogi.

In 2021, Nexon invested 92.4 billion yen (about US$874 million at the time) into companies including Hasbro, Bandai Namco Holdings, Konami Holdings, and Sega Sammy Holdings.

Sources: Business Korea (Jasmine Choi), The Korea Times, IGN (Kat Bailey)

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