Korea to Crack Down on Loot Boxes as PUBG and Starseed Investigated

Published: May 29, 2024

South Korea is reportedly cracking down on loot boxes as the country’s Fair Trade Commision begins an on-site investigation into PUBG: Battlegrounds developer Krafton and Starseed: Asnia Trigger publisher Com2uS. News of the crackdown was first revealed as KFTC began on-site investigations on May 28.

The KFTC, South Korea’s regulatory authority for economic competition, was sent to the offices of two major game developers after “suspicions of manipulation and false description of probability-type items.”

The KFTC is allegedly attempting to secure data related to loot box drop rates for each of the games.

A report by Korean news site Hankyung stated that the KFTC was investigating whether the rates of ‘drops’ from loot boxes sold by both companies were misleading. Similar investigations have previously been carried out on MMO giant NCSoft and Ragnarok Online operator Gravity.

PUBG and Starseed’s Loot Boxes

PUBG Mobile has a history of loot boxes
Credit: Krafton

PUBG: Battlegrounds, a 100-person battle royale game has had a complicated history with loot boxes. The game has had multiple instances of loot boxes in-game, but in 2019 removed paid loot boxes. However, Krafton has continued to introduce crate and key-like systems.

What’s more, the crate and key system is alive and well in PUBG Mobile, and likely the reason behind the KFTC’s investigation. In PUBG Mobile, crates are purchased with G-Coins and contain cosmetics and rare items.

Starseed: Asnia Trigger was investigated by Korea's FTC.
Credit: Com2uS

Starseed: Asnia Trigger on the other hand operates under gacha game mechanics. The RPG requires you to build your party from characters you obtain from loot boxes with gacha roulette mechanics. This kind of mechanic is a staple of the genre, but the drop rates are often hidden or hard to find.

Loot boxes continue to cause controversy

The crackdown follows suit from many major nations who are increasingly concerned about the allegedly deceptive business practices behind loot boxes. In 2022, Spain announced plans to regulate video game loot boxes, while the UK was urged to adopt a similar policy. Earlier this month, EPIC Risk Management repeated the call for sales of “harmful” loot boxes to be banned for under 18s in the UK.

Across the industry, the consumer has increasingly wisened up to loot boxes, with some developers turning away from the practice. In 2022, Blizzard dropped the sale of its controversial loot boxes for the release of Overwatch 2. However, the industry remains incredibly reliant on loot boxes for revenue.

However, the Korean government’s approach to loot boxes, seems particularly aggressive, as shown with these investigations into PUBG, Krafton, and Com2uS.

Michael Hassall

Since: January 31, 2024

Michael has worked in the esports industry for five years after a brief career in marketing. A professional writer for almost a decade, and a lifelong gamer, writing about esports is his one true passion, when he’s not glued to a screen playing the games he writes about.

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