Nexon has been made to pay a fine of ₩11.6 billion (£7.1 million) by the Korea Fair Trade Commission, after allegedly misleading its customers on loot box probabilities in the online games MapleStory and Bubble Fighter.
Korea’s FTC said that Nexon had changed the drop rates of Cubes [paid items that improve in-game equipment] several times without giving notice to its players. According to the regulatory group, Nexon even set some of the most popular items’ drop rates to zero, making them impossible to obtain for periods of time, while also claiming in August 2011 that it had made no such changes. Each attempt at drawing Cubes costs around ₩2000, making the process of acquiring them not dissimilar to playing a slot machine game.
Nexon has been fined by the Korea Fair Trade Commission before, when it was made to pay ₩944.5 million (£568,344) for similar loot box practices in its game Sudden Attack back in 2018. Its latest financial penalty, however, is the largest ever for a company found violating South Korea’s Consumer Protection in Electronic Commerce Act.
“We imposed the largest fine because the Cube is a core product of the game [Maple Story], the period of the violation is long and this is the second violation [by Nexon] following Sudden Attack,” explained Kim Jung-ki, director of the market surveillance department of the Korea Fair Trade Commission.
In a statement released following the Korea FTC’s decision, Nexon said that it has ‘accepted the commission’s decision, and it ‘deeply apologises to the game users for disappointing them’, although the company has also stated that it might challenge the decision, perhaps even in court.