Nexon Fined $8.8 Million by Korean FTC for Alleged MapleStory Game Draw Odds Manipulation
On Wednesday, the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) slapped a hefty fine amounting to 11.64 billion won (approximately US$8.83 million) on Nexon Korea. The fine, the largest ever imposed by KFTC, stems from Nexon’s violation of the Korean Electronic Commerce Act related to the sale of in-game items in its popular games – MapleStory and Bubble Fighter.
As reported by Business Korea, Nexon Korea has been accused of being deceptively manipulative with the odds of acquiring an in-game item, called “Cube”, in MapleStory thus flouting consumer rights. Introduced in May 2010, the “Cube” items are designed to upgrade a character’s equipment in the game, and what specific item will be achieved is only determined when the Cube is activated. As per allegations, Nexon had originally set equal chances for all possibilities but then they tinkered with the odds, resulting in lower probabilities or almost nil chance of obtaining popular items. This change occurred from August 2011 to March 2021 and Nexon has been faulted for not disclosing these changes. Rather they falsely announced in August 2011 that there had been no alternations.
As per the statement released by the KFTC, across these 10 years, Nexon made public minor changes in the game 449 times but conspicuously failed to disclose changes in probability that tilted odds against consumer’s favor.
In response to the charges, Nexon expressed their remorse to their gaming community for letting them down and issued a statement saying, “This issue pertains to the period prior to 2016 when it was not obligatory to share information about probability-based items. The retrospective sanctions imposed by the KFTC will severely cripple the gaming industry in Korea.” The company plans to file a formal objection against this directive.
The late founder of Nexon, Jungju Kim launched the company in 1994. Nexon specializes in free-to-play mobile and online games such as MapleStory, SINoALICE, and the original version of Kemono Friends. Besides these, Nexon has also developed games like The Kingdom of the Winds, KartRider, Dungeon&Fighter, and Mabinogi.
It’s worth mentioning that in 2021, Nexon made substantial investments of about 92.4 billion yen (US$874 million roughly at that time) in several companies including Hasbro, Bandai Namco Holdings, Konami Holdings, and Sega Sammy Holdings.